Drink and Link: Where to Wi-Fi and Drink Up in Detroit

There's that scene in "Sweet Home Alabama" where Reese Witherspoon's character says to an old friend with disgust thinly veiled as wonderment, "You have a baby ... in a bar."

I used to see people with laptops at bars and feel the same way. You have a MacBook Pro ... in a bar.

I was wrong to judge. There are times that call for something more akin to a “Mad Men” style, three-martini midday meeting. There are times when a coffee shop and caffeine won't cut it.

Of course, we at Model D would never endorse irresponsible drinking and would never, ever suggest operating any type of vehicle or heavy machinery under the influence. Open up a laptop and a cold one now and then, well, we can get behind that.

As it turns out, Detroit is well plugged in when it comes to finding places to use the Internet and enjoy a tall, frosty one. Lots of places you might not expect, like "it" restaurant Roast, for example, offer wireless Internet -- a must if we are to use the location as our virtual offices.

So we sent out a call to our dear readers on Facebook to ask where they like to plug in, log on and enjoy adult beverages. And then we turned to our panel of … ahem … experts: Joe Posch, owner of Mezzanine and who uses his pink laptop to blog about modern design; Diane Geiger, a freelance project manager who with her pink laptop is a connoisseur of fine Wi-Fi; Ryan Hertz, a nonprofit director who doesn't have a pink laptop, sigh, but sometimes catches up on e-mail and other light tasks with Diane at a watering hole turned "office." They are also behind this new site, which promises to be a hub for people interested in this type of activity: detroitdrinktank.com

Note: If you plan to open the laptop at the bar, you might want to follow some drink-and-link etiquette. Order something, please. Tip your server. Don't overindulge or you could find yourself married to a Saudi prince or video blogging like her.

Here are some of the places we found to be best in the city for having a drink and going online.

Honest? John's
First off, the food is good pub grub, which makes Honest? John's a good place for a breakfast, late lunch or after dinner work session with reliable Wi-Fi. Off-peak hours are suggested because it's such a busy lunch spot. "These big booths lend themselves to some privacy," says Hertz of the spacious tables with high-backed benches. "It's like a little cubicle," adds Geiger. "These are good for meetings. These are like conference room tables," she says. "Minus the glamour," adds Posch. Honest? John's is not fancy by any means, so no fussy, fancy, frilly drinks. (488 Selden. Lots of street parking.)

Atlas Global Bistro
You might not expect Wi-Fi at a higher end restaurant, but the bar at Atlas in Midtown is Posch's wireless hot spot of choice. He likes the classy atmosphere, the big windows, the ambiance and the fact that it's not an overly smoky establishment. "That's my favorite drinking and working place of all," he says, adding, "you don't feel like you are at a 'bar.'" "I used to go there in the morning back when they were the only place that had Wi-Fi around here," adds Geiger. Posch adds that if the Wi-Fi goes down, for whatever reason, "don't be embarrassed, just ask them to reset the router." It's good advice at any of our locations. The Wi-Fi is a service for customers and the servers want you to stay, and drink, and work. So ask nicely. (3111 Woodward Ave. Lots of street parking or valet.)
Angelina Italian Bistro
Angelina, a newer restaurant, has a really wide, really spacious bar, which is great for having your own personal space to open a laptop and a bottle of wine. Ask your server for the password to access the Wi-Fi. If at a table, try to find one with a plug (there's one near the table smack at the corner of Broadway and Madison). They have a nice wine list that's surprisingly affordable. The small plates and pizzas also make for good gnoshing, and if you want something less potent, they make a beautiful cappuccino. "If I am in the mood to drink wine I might choose that place," says Geiger. And it gets high marks for being nonsmoking, adds Posch. (1565 Broadway. Some nearby street parking or valet.)

Park Bar
The Park Bar is a great place to spend the evening or well into the night. Posch says power is not a problem. "They have outlets around the bar -- at the bar – built into the bar." Nice. Beer would be the order at the Park Bar because of the extensive and impressive offering, our experts agree. It's smoky, but unless it's a Tigers game day it's not going to be overly crowded. The big circular bar offers enough space to hold a laptop and a killer chicken schwarma from the Bucharest Grill menu offered at the bar. (Park on the street nearby.)

Cliff Bell's
"During the right time of day, it's an awesome spot," says Geiger of Cliff Bell's downtown near the Fox. The right time would be happy hour. They've got a happy hour special on now that offers half-price wine and food. They've just recently added a menu and it's good stuff. Even the brussels sprouts are to die for, and the housemade garlic noodles are sensational. Plus it's got a great location. Geiger adds, "If it gets too busy you can go to Park Bar next door." (2030 Park Ave. Park on the street nearby.)

Other Wi-Fi-friendly bars:

Woodbridge Pub
: Many, many readers declared this their favorite place to drink and go online. Reader Jessi says they have great food and drink specials, like half-off wine on Fridays and Saturdays. Nice. (5169 Trumbull)

The Bronx Bar: Ok, if you have your laptop at The Bronx let's just call it drinking, not working. It's drinking near a laptop. (4476 2nd Ave.)

Majestic Cafe:
Reader Melanie says the cafe saved her when she was in the area one day and needed a place to work. She was thrilled to find they had Wi-Fi "and it worked perfectly (alongside two Blue Moons)." (4120 Woodward Ave.)

Slow's Bar BQ
: It's too busy to linger during lunch there, but on a nice afternoon in off-peak hours, try the patio; power's an issue but some spots are shady enough to see your screen. Great beer and food. (2138 Michigan Ave.)

Traffic Jam and Snug:
It's not super hip, but there are tons of tables, lots of space, and good food and drinks. (511 W. Canfield)

Foran's Irish Pub:
New façade, breakfast menu four days a week plus Sunday brunch, and it is right Downtown on Woodward. Bloody Mary and French toast? Yes, please. (612 Woodward)

Motor City Brewing Works
: Obviously the beer is excellent, but not enough people know you can get wireless Internet and really fabulous pizza and salads. (470 W. Canfield)

Roast and 24Grille: New Westin Book Cadillac restaurants make for  super classy lunch meetings where you need a laptop. Or try the bars, especially during peak hours when tables are slammed. "At Roast, it is super expensive, but if you want that one perfect martini, this is the place," says Geiger. (1128 Washington Blvd.)

Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey is editor of Model D and has brought babies to the bar, but she doesn't make a habit of it. Did we neglect your favorite place? Send feedback here.


Detroit singer - songwriter Audra Kubat at The Bronx Bar

Joe Posch with his pink laptop at Atlas Bistro

Diane Geiger with her pink laptop at the Woodbridge pub

"Shakin', not stirred" at 24 Grille in the Book Cadillac

Artist and Metal fabricator Billy West at the Motor City Brewing Works

All photographs by Detroit Photographer Marvin Shaouni Marvin Shaouni is the Managing Photographer for Metromode & Model D.

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