The Location: 213 S. Ashley St. (a block west of Main St., just south of Grizzly Peak)
Babs' opened in 1997. It's located, as the name would suggest, underground. Slightly hard to find, you must first enter a foyer to the building, then go down a series of stairs. It features two levels. The upper level has large leather chairs, a handful of tables, and two pool tables, the lower level features more tables, and the bar. There is also a photobooth on the lower level. Free WiFi. Open Tuesday through Saturday.
Babs' is a fairly expensive lounge. Bottles are generally around $4, Drafts are around $5. Martini's, the bar's specialty, are generally around $7.
Tuesday: Movie night, $4 40oz bottles of PBR, Olde English, and Miller High Life, Free Pool
Wednesday: Pitchers (4 drinks) of various mixed drinks for $12. Live DJ.
Thursday: $2 PBR and High Life bottles. $3 Vodka Red Bulls.
I first must admit I've only been to Babs' twice. Once on a Thursday, once on a Saturday, so I don't know the place that well. However, in those two times I've been, I've loved it. So relaxed. While some might call it a 'college' bar, it certainly isn't a bar populated by the average college student. While it's not 'quiet' you can certainly hear the people near you without yelling. You also avoid a lot of the patrons showing up to 'get drunk'. It's a very relaxed social bar.
It also is billed as a cigar bar. While there aren't a large amount of cigar smoker, there certainly are a lot of cigarette smokers. As someone who loves the former and, at best, puts up with the latter, this isn't ideal (for me) and a non-smoking section would be nice, but the amount of smoke is going to depend on who you're sitting near.
As I said, I haven't been to very many nights at Babs' and I haven't been able to develop a baseline for its average 'fullness', however, I have been there when it was 'at capacity' and was let in after a few minute wait. Coming down, I saw that it was far from crowded (though certainly not empty). I'm pretty sure the owner elected to have the 'capacity' much smaller than the fire marshal would have allowed to facilitate the atmosphere. This is an indication that the owner would rather cater to people looking for a certain atmosphere than make as much money as possible. A plus in my book.
As a side effect to this, I've noticed that you rarely have to wait to get a drink up at the bar. At that night of full capacity, I was asked what I wanted by the bartending staff almost immediately after laying a hand on the bar. Also, even on a busy night, the waitstaff is making rounds asking for drink orders.
On non-free days, pool is quite expensive. $15 an hour. However, the tables are immaculate. No where in Ann Arbor, other than perhaps Monkey Bar have I seen as nice of tables.
I really like Babs'. I think I'm getting older and that might be a sign, but I'm becoming more intune with the quiet(er) place with nice atmosphere than the place with cheap beer with loud underage drunks. I really think Babs will become one of my main haunts now. I really like it, dispite it's expense. I give it four stars.