A Girl Walks Into: Bar on Braun Court
Like any good story, my column starts when a girl walks into a bar. However, this one happens to be my bar, a hallowed hall and point of pride. It’s personal, confessing to which drinking establishment to which you tether time and esteem. It reveals something about who you are, or rather, how you want to see yourself.
Stories need settings. We can all agree that a lot less would have happened on “Friends” if it weren’t for Central Perk. Some of the most important scenes of “How I Met Your Mother” happened in MacLaren's Pub. The universe of “Cheers” exists almost entirely inside of the titular bar. Of all the gin joints in the world, I walked into this one. If my senior year of college were shot as a sitcom, you’d find me at the Bar on Braun Court.
My first sojourn to Bar was a little more than a year ago. An older friend brought me, as my drinking Obi-Wan Kenobi, and ordered on my behalf my first mixed drink. Before then, whiskey sours were like life rafts in a sea of confusing cocktails and crafty beers. In a post-Solo cup world, this bar changed my perspective. This bar brought me the White Russian, a drink to which even today this dude abides.
As Carrie Bradshaw is to the Cosmopolitan, I am to the White Russian. The drink, a blend of cream and coffee liqueur, arrives in a rounded martini glass as a nectar-thick concoction of a deep mahogany brown. It’s topped with a foam so delicious that after I’ve finished, I scoop it out of the glass with my finger. As the menu boldly describes, it is the best you’ll ever have.
Needless to say, this isn’t where you’d go to catch the end of a Wings game. Bar is situated on the second floor of 327 Braun Court, and unlike the cavernous expanse of The Last Word, Bar is a much smaller and cozier space in a way that is familiar, rather than formal. It consists of two rooms — one a row of booths and the other a series of wooden tables — separated by the bar itself, where craft beverages are mixed and shaken like volatile chemistry experiments. When you’re breezing through the old college town, and the kids in the Rick’s line make you feel carbon-dated, come drink here.
Rather than having a specific theme, Bar seems to have accumulated decorations over time, like a dorm room expanding beyond the Pulp Fiction poster or a single tapestry. They include, but are not limited to, a framed image of John F. Kennedy, a portrait of The Last Supper and a yawning kitten. Deer heads are mounted in the same room whose own accessories fluctuate with the seasons. Tonight, the doe is wrapped with plenty of scarves, while the buck is rocking beads, a beanie and a forgotten umbrella.
My companion is a music buff, and I can’t help but appreciate what’s playing more with her commentary. A tinkling song comes on that sounds like a jazzier version of the “Twin Peaks” intro, and I’m told it's a new song by Chicago-based soul singer Jamila Woods. I’m also not trendy enough to recognize the latest head-bobbing album from A Tribe Called Quest, which she points out is an interesting record to spin in what looks like Ted Nugent’s yard sale.
There is nothing tying the room together but the faint glow of tabletop candles delivered with the drink menus and the string lights from the patio downstairs. In fact, most of the ambiance in the second room is provided by the wide window on the right-hand side of the bar overlooking the courtyard, where the view of Aut Bar’s neon-lit alley transports you straight to 1980s New York.
The Bar on Braun Court is my favorite place in Ann Arbor. The service is attentive, the mood is chill and the drinks are delicious. It’s close to my apartment and my heart. It’s where, though not everyone knows my name, or is always glad I came, they’ve never forgotten my drink order. Over a flickering candle and a White Russian, I’ve discussed work anxiety, boy troubles and personal relationships. It’s where more than a dozen great nights have either begun or ended.
Yeah, it’s just a bar. It’s a room where people get drunk. It’s dark, it’s expensive and I’ve never regretted one second within its walls.
It’s my bar. But it can be yours, too.