New witchcraft bar the Black Salt to open next month in Hamtramck
A new bar debuting in Hamtramck next month in a historic space is aiming to offer alcoholic and nonalcoholic libations that focus on metaphysical and homeopathic properties of their ingredients.
The Black Salt, which opens March 3 on Florian near Jos. Campau, will serve classic cocktails, mocktails, pour-over coffee, loose leaf tea and "spell cocktails."
What does that mean? Owner Zoey Ashwood says part of it is of understanding the medicinal or homeopathic purposes of the drink's ingredients or the metaphysical or spiritual symbolism of the drink's various elements.
"Then the bartender will have a small part of the process, whether it's stirring the drink clockwise for a certain reason or doing a visualization, just kind of setting an intention within the cocktail" said Ashwood, adding that the customers then complete the spell. "Whether they stir the cocktail a direction as well, or they visualize or set their intention in the cocktail and then drink it for that specific purpose."
The vibe here is more "good witch" than anything evil or negative. In fact, that's the whole point, to offer a safe space where all are welcome. Yes, the bartender will put a spell on your drink, but only with your permission. (The position of your bar coaster will let the staff know which you prefer.)
"We also have our house classic cocktails on the menu that will rotate seasonally as well," said Ashwood, adding that as the year goes on, they'll build a collection of drinks associated with the current astrology sign. "We'll have a great wine, list, beer, list, kombucha, mead ... we'll also have proper tea sets and we're also getting N/A spirits ... we'll have nonalcoholic spirits to make any of the cocktails nonalcoholic as well."
"It's about intentional and conscious drinking," said Ashwood, adding that the practice of herbalism goes back thousands of years.
The name the Black Salt refers to safety and protection. In Wiccan circles, spreading black salt around is said to keep evil forces at bay.
"It is a wonderful tool to use for protection ... it's almost like holy water for witches," she said. "We're a protective space, a space space whether they're into the occult or different forms of paganism or they're just looking for a safe space to come in and feel comfortable being themselves."
"Also, Detroit's on top of a huge salt mine, so that came to mind, too," she said.
Ashwood did a lot of renovation on the building, which dates back more than 100 years, to just before Hamtramck was incorporated as a city. The location was most recently home to Goth bar Mephisto's, which closed in the late 2000s, and before that Doc Z's Tavern and Club Florian.
Originally from the west side of the state, Ashwood has studied fine arts, worked in the art and entertainment industry and was a life coach. She wanted to set down some roots in Michigan after living in Boston and New York, and felt called home to Detroit. She obtained this building in April 2022 and has been renovating it since then.
"I've only ever owned buildings that are very old, so it's something I care about and have experience with as well," she said.
Ashwood has documented the renovation process on social media. The original tin ceiling was too water damaged to keep, and the spiral staircase had to go, but she did unearth some hardwood floors from the the first half of the 20th century, which were protected from the stomp-y platform boots and black lights of the early 2000s Goth scene.
"They haven't been exposed in a very long time and they were in great condition," she said of the floors.
The Black Salt seats 45 at the bar, in couches, armchairs and in a built-in booth area that Ashwood built herself from scraps from the bars that were on the second floor of the building.
"There's a lot of little nooks and seating, and that was just naturally the layout of the bar on the first floor kind of has that old '60s, '70s format," she said. "It's really got a fun, cozy feel to it, too."
Guests are welcome to bring their own tarot cards and crystals or rent some from the bar. The Black Salt may offer some bar snacks like nuts or chips, but no food will be served.
The grand opening party, 4 p.m.-2 a.m. March 3, will offer a limited cocktail menu. Guests arriving between 4-6 p.m. can be entered into a raffle for a "prosperity and protection" mystery bag from the Detroit Tarot Company.
Find the Black Salt at 2764 Florian in Hamtramck. Once open on March 3, hours will be 5 p.m.-midnight Mon.-Thurs., 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Fri., 3 p.m.-2 a.m. Sat. and 3-10 p.m. Sun. Visit theblacksaltbar.com for more details.
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