A Local Speakeasy
By Alexis Bohlinger
Harrison’s Speakeasy is Harrison Township’s newest spot for a colorful revolving menu, fancy cocktails, a lively atmosphere and an all-around good time. Harrison’s Speakeasy, on Jefferson north of Metropolitan Parkway, first opened its doors this past winter after extensive renovations. Owner Josephine Mistretta wanted to open something that was new and unique to the area.
“The influence for the restaurant came to me after I had already purchased the building,” said Mistretta. “Once I got in there, I started to envision jazz and blues with a sexy vibe. I wanted to create more of an industrial setting, rather than the typical Royal Oak or Ferndale feel.” Since opening, Mistretta has received excellent feedback from the community for creating something new and fresh in Harrison Township.
The servers are dressed in late 1920’s- early 1930’s-inspired speakeasy clothing, playing the part 100 percent. You really do feel like you’ve taken a step back in time. Speakeasies became widespread in the United States during the Prohibition Era, a time when the manufacturing, buying and selling of alcoholic beverages was illegal throughout the country. This era took place from 1920 until Prohibition ended on December 5, 1933. You don’t have to do a secret knock to get in the front door; however, there are a few tricks up the restaurant’s sleeve. We won’t divulge any secrets!
Some fan favorites from the menu include the Jambalaya and French-style-cut lamb chops, beautifully presented with a seasonal vegetable and mashed potato. They also serve handhelds, steak, seafood and more. The menu has a modern creole vibe. “We are going to a more feature-based menu and will release new specials every Thursday,” said Mistretta. “We also pride ourselves on sourcing locally and being a farm-to-table restaurant. Everything we serve is prepared fresh.”
Harrison’s Speakeasy definitely lives up to its name, carrying locally distilled spirits and craft beer. “We don’t carry the name brands like Tito’s or Grey Goose. Instead, we favor more local spirits like Two James, Valentine’s and Detroit City Distillery. As many spirits as I can give back to the city of Detroit as well as craft beer, I try to stick with those.”
One patron commented, “I ordered the gin cocktail and it actually came in a little ceramic bathtub glass. In my opinion the creativity that goes into the cocktail menu as well as knowing we are drinking Michigan distilled gin makes it taste even better!”
Although she has been in the hospitality business her whole life, this is Mistretta’s first venture into opening a restaurant on her own. “I purchased the building one month before Covid and I had no idea how difficult it would be to renovate this space,” Mistretta explained. Without contractors being readily available, she did most of the construction work herself. “As a single mother, there were a lot of tears involved in this project and against everyone’s warning, we opened our doors in January 2022. I worked so hard to make this place what it is and I was determined in my heart to see my vision through.”
It appears Mistretta’s hard work has paid off. The restaurant is experiencing large dinner crowds each night, standing room only at the bar and excellent reviews from patrons.
For more information, harrisonsspeakeasy.com