1426 Bagley St., Detroit; 313-962-2121; saintceces.com
So, what happens when you mix the cozy, neighborhood ambience of a proper Irish pub with a welcoming staff and a cast of regulars who remind you that not all Detroit bars obey the rules of either hipster-baiting or divey obscurity? St. Cece's is what happens. (See, St. Cece is the patron saint of whiskey.) The former Baile Corcaigh at the corner of Bagley and Trumbull (just up the street from Hello Records) is a stained-glass and wood-paneled port in the nightlife storm. A joint where you can have a conversation, swap a few jokes and feel left-in even when no one actually knows your name. There's a crackling fireplace to warm by when the weather is beating you down and the smell of the fireplace remains and adds an olfactory comfort even when the temps are balmy. Co-owners Colleen and Celeste Belanger (along with brother Jerry) know what the hell they're doing when it comes to running a bar (see also: Cliff Bell's, Park Bar). And any joint that can A) be the place where Van Dyke Parks ends up holding court at closing time and B) keeps the lights on long enough to let him play an impromptu concert for an audience of 15 has a lot to recommend it out of the gate.