roundup

The Secret Scoop On 25 Hidden Speakeasies. Happy Repeal Day!

photo Ilena Gecan
Happy Repeal Day!! On December 5, 1933, the United States decided it was time to invite the tastiest and most necessary of party ingredients—yes, I'm talking about alcohol, the beloved nectar of wildcards everywhere—back into the life of the average law-abiding citizen. Started in 1920, Prohibition rolled right into the Great Depression, but, alas (or thankfully is more like it), Prohibition had kicked up a score of unforeseen side effects and a substantial economic boost was needed. So the 21st Amendment was passed.

To celebrate booze's existence while paying tribute to the establishments that gave it a home when the government didn't want it around, here are 25 of the coolest speakeasies in America.

Written By Jake Kilroy
1 / 25
0
1
photo Blind Barber

Blind Barber

Culver City, California
With two more equally dapper parlors in New York and Brooklyn, this west coast outing seems simple enough as a classic barber shop (to the naked eye at least). The pad practically transforms boys into men and men into gentlemen, with its legit class-act barbershop front and hidden-away cocktail bar in the back room. The Los Angeles menu strikes the balance of manly and delicate taste, with ingredients such as cayenne pepper, grapefruit, and honey making their way into the whiskey, rum, and vodka. How To Find It: Enter the barber shop from the front. Say hello to the barbers. Then kindly walk to the back, open the closet door with the coats hanging on it and proceed in the bar.
 
2 / 25
0
2

Three Dots and a Dash

Chicago, Illinois
Named for the letter V in morse code, this “tiki easy” kicks back with a top-notch Hawaiian vibe and devious lighting. Live divine by diving into the cocktail menu, from classic mai tais to a rummy series of “Painkillers,” plus a wildcard drink called Bikinis After Dark, all served up in old-school novelty glasses. How to Find It: Found bouncing to life off a Hubbard alleyway with a lone sign above the door, this hot spot’s descending stair entrance feels like you’re stepping into the deep blue underworld. Inside Scoop: Ask for a dolphin banana & a mermaid stirrer in your drink. You won't be disappointed!
 
3 / 25
0
3

E. Smith Mercantile (Back Bar)

Seattle, Washington
A dynamic extension of an actual sidewalk shop, the owners celebrate the good life in their back room bar of vaulted ceilings and old brick. Tucked away but open enough, like a good secret nobody can keep, this charming bar’s menu changes with the seasons. Inside Scoop: Be sure to get the respectable boatsman drink that is the Tradewinds, complete with Jamaican rum, their drink menu satisfies any grand soul.
4 / 25
0
4

P X

Alexandria, Virginia
Once an actual speakeasy, this social lounge revives the golden age’s dedication to handcrafted cocktails and a civilized atmosphere. How To Find It: Nestled beneath a James Beard Award-winning Irish fish and chips shop, the DC favorite is marked by its blue light and pirate flag. Ring the doorbell, wait for the peephole to open, and follow your hostess in to settle in for colorful drinks featuring names like I'm Not Gonna Worry About It and Not Really a Pina Colada But Close.
5 / 25
0
5

PDT (Please Don't Tell)

New York, New York
This blessed drinkery lives up to its name with moody lighting and stylish yet lively stay-awhile vibe. Find out what everyone’s talking about by stepping into PDT, which serves up fried dishes in its beloved back room. Devour the joint’s celebrated cocktail menu of bouncy gin and rum cocktails, all with flavorful and fragrant ingredients and descriptions that’ll make you spin like you’re in an art gallery. How to Find It: Make a reservation! Find the old-fashioned phone booth inside Crif Dogs at St. Marks Place. Step inside, pick up the phone, then press the buzzer. A voice will answer to verify your identity, then the inside of the phone booth opens to let you into the sacred back room.
 
6 / 25
0
6
photo Kim + Phil

Trick Dog

San Francisco, California
Once a warehouse, now a popular neighborhood cocktail bar that digs on killer tunes, this joint is a big space with a grand selection of booze that doesn't let anybody down. Their delectable food menu can be riled up by way of epic drinks if you’re in the good mood to live. Original cocktails are handmade, depending on the month for the wild, radical drink special.
7 / 25
0
7
photo do512blog

Midnight Cowboy

Austin, Texas
A rail-thin bar of black leather booths, this sneak-attack barroom is where you bail on 6th Street's madness for an actual conversation. Lose wit upon scoping the house cocktails, from the blissful sugary Total Eclipse of the Lemonhart to the Baker Street Swizzle, their absinthe ode to Sherlock Holmes. How To Find It: Disguised as a massage parlor, the hideaway tavern has you ringing the buzzer marked "Harry Craddock" for entry.
8 / 25
0
8

Noble Experiment

San Diego, California
With a look that's half high-class social club and half hipster paradise, this spirited calling for San Diego’s most fun will become an instant go-to for you. Their cocktail menu, elegantly done in cursive, has a drink called the Gypsy Gentleman, so you know what you're stepping into with this crowd. How To Find It: Sneakily hidden in a popular craft-beer-and-artisan-burger joint called "The Neighborhood", you just gotta find the secret door (hint: it absolutely doesn’t look like a door).
9 / 25
0
9

La Descarga

Los Angeles, California
A lively Cuban joint in Koreatown, this celebration of 1950s Havana will have you wilin' out on the dance floor with moves like a hurricane as the fevered band plays on. Dress like a lady or gentleman, and show up to an unsuspecting spot. Expand your crooked grin by way of a cocktail menu that digs on the likes of rum and mezcal with drink names like Bermuda Swizzle and Blood And Samba. How to Find It: Make a reservation. Then speak to the doorman where you will be led inside through a closet. Inside Scoop: Dress up nice! This place is upscale attire only.
10 / 25
0
10
photo Tanja Stojic

Angel’s Share

New York, New York
Popular among locals and dedicated to the speakeasy truth, this tiny secret Japanese barroom explodes with life, notable for the vibrant wall painting above the bar. How To Find It: In the equally trendy, twice-as-loud, yakitori joint known as Village Yokocho, enter through an unmarked door—which you would very likely assume leads to storage, if you didn’t know better.
Inside Scoop: Once inside, order the award-winning Speak Low that features two kinds of rum, matcha powder, sherry, and yuzu zest.
11 / 25
0
11

Marvel Bar

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Old-school, stylish, and lively, this parlor offers a restless cool, so it shouldn’t kick up any eyebrows to discover its standby is a drink called the Gatsby. You'd only know this unmarked joint even exists if somebody told you about it. But if you find it, try any of the original cocktails, from the gin-based Ladykiller to the absinthe-driven Ebenezer, and realize you have a new favorite in the City of Lakes. How To Find It: From outside The Bachelor Farmer, walk down 2nd Avenue North toward the rear of the building. Look for a set of stairs leading down to a patio covered in Christmas lights. Open the brown(ish) door, make your way down the hallway and enter through the purple door. Then Enjoy!
12 / 25
0
12
photo StarChefs

The Franklin Bar

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This grand long, narrow room is your new class-act dive, given a vibe other bars would kill for. With signature drinks currently having names like Your Crooked Neighbor and There Is No Dana, Only Zuul, you know you’re in the right sort of place that’s elegant without ego. If you're stunning the night with a group, be sure to scope out the list of punches, which you can get by the bowl. Only tell your closest, as you don’t want the locals taking over your spot. Insider Scoop: Order the drink "I Asked Her For Water, She Brought Me Gasoline"
13 / 25
0
13

The Oakland Art Novelty Company

Ferndale, Michigan
With inspiration pouring in from the spread of the 20th Century, from speakeasy elegance and early 1900s blues on the radio to contemporary design and Americana tunes bouncing in, this bar’s environment jives timeless. Just on the outskirts of Detroit, the barroom’s vibe is total sophistication and they expect nothing less from their patrons. Inside Scoop: Explore the past with their collection of “dusties”—also known as very old bottles of good booze—such as a 1935 whiskey or a 1940 Chartreuse.
14 / 25
0
14
photo Guide Pal

Death + Company

New York, New York
A long bar of dark wood and rich, soft light, this drinker's haven looks like the Golden Age of Hollywood in the Prohibition love affair of old New York City. This moody East Village tavern features doormen and bartenders dressed to the nines, making it impossible to shake the creeping feeling you’ve accidentally time traveled to 1920s. With a bottle stash that looks like the promised land, it shouldn't surprise anyone that this lounge has a cocktail menu that reads like holy text for gin, rum, whiskey, tequila, and brandy lovers. How To Find It: Look for the wood slates in the windows on East Sixth Street. The name Death & Co. is printed on the sidewalk by the entrance. Find the bouncer, give him you number and he’ll call you when you can come in.
15 / 25
0
15
photo Andi Fisher

Bourbon and Branch

San Francisco, California
A classy, immaculate revival of a Prohibition experience, this classy joint celebrates the very nature of speaking easy, in the vibe of its room and patrons. Mellow out your soul while stirring up trouble with your liver by pouring over their drink menu, which features only the very finest rums, tequilas, and whiskeys, plus a hand-numbered bourbon selection. Ideally, though, you get to the bottom of a drink—or a case!—in the old-timey detective-themed cocktail bar in the back called Wilson & Wilson. How to Find It: Make a reservation if you're looking for an unforgettable night or randomly wind up in their library by ringing the buzzer and dropping the password "books." Where an actual book case will slide open to enter.
 
16 / 25
0
16
photo The Campbell Apartment

The Campbell Apartment

New York, NY
The Campbell Apartment was once the luxurious office and salon of ‘20’s mogul and tycoon John W. Campbell. Head here with your crew and lounge on plush couches surrounded by dark wood paneling and a massive stone fireplace. Nosh on popcorn from the vintage popcorn machine and share a big bowl of prohibition punch. You can also rent this privately for the ultimate secret speakeasy party. How To Find It: Walk up the stairs on Vanderbilt Avenue or head through Grand Central Station and take a secret elevator up.
17 / 25
0
17

Experimental Cocktail Club

New York, New York
This swanky Parisian lounge somehow wound up in New York City, and it’s easily passible for a favorite watering hole from decades before Prohibition. Lose your sense of time and gain a sense of wonder on the Lower East Side in what feels like an old-timey European social gathering. Expect artists, dancers, and musicians to show up at any moment, given its buoyant yet distinguished vibe, where a dozen-plus experimental cocktails await you, if you’re down for cognac, gin, or tequila at their finest.
18 / 25
0
18

The Raines Law Room

New York, New York
Exposed brick walls surrounded a chatty room of plush sofas and low lighting, this room transports you to Prohibition Era drinking tactics. Inside, this new favorite tavern that has the vibe of an upscale steamship from back in the day. Its extensive cocktail menu has something for everyone, whether they’re dashing rogue, rebel loon, or group peacekeeper. How To Find It: A secretive, unmarked entrance that doesn't exclude—just gotta ring the bell—leads you and your group in.
19 / 25
0
19

The Varnish

Los Angeles, California
A chic downtown pairing of what made the City of Angels wild in the first place and the hipster scene that tamed it, this cool watering hole is all class and no fuss. How To Find It: Enter through a top-secret door in Cole’s French Dip to escape your normal routine into a dimly lit world of calm chatter and antique furnishings. Inside Scoop: The mixologists here can make you the best version of any classic cocktails, where its taste has you realizing you’ve been drinking the wrong version for years.
20 / 25
0
20
photo Greg Powers

Jack Rose Dining Saloon

Washington, DC
Spread out your wings at this charming DC place-to-be, where a good time is welcome and inevitable, where the cocktail recipes read like poetry. Don’t just stick to the main room if you’re looking for something more tailored to your mood, as there’s a balcony room, an open-air terrace, and a wildly inventive tiki bar the joint tucks in the back. Sporting one of the greatest whiskey collections in the country—right in its own beating heart, no less—the pub palace offers killer tastings and rare bottles. How To Find It: Walk to the back of the Jack Rose Dining Saloon, then open the door labeled "Secret Door". 
21 / 25
0
21
photo Prohibition

Prohibition Lounge

San Diego, California
In the name itself, this craftsmanship bar room invites, delights, and excites the drinkers of San Diego’s Gaslamp District. A bit removed, this old-school stretch of room ensures its patrons have a ball with live music and a vibe that feels like you’re in a wild, grandiose club. Dedicated to booze as an art and not just a high, experienced bartenders do up handcrafted artisanal cocktails until you forget about going home altogether. How To Find It: Walking down Fifth Avenue you will find the "Law Offices of Eddie O'Hare, ESQ." Simply ring the door bell and wait... After being deemed worthy of an entrance, the door will open.
22 / 25
0
22
photo Apotheke

Apotheke

New York, New York
A stunning masterpiece, really, this boozy space impresses its guests with a hand-carved bar, imported marble, and hundreds of antique medicine bottles from around world. Drinks at this off-the-beaten-path tavern are served up by bartenders who look like pharmacists. With a mixology team firm in their farm-to-bar approach, their tasty cocktails come from local and organic produce either from local markets or their own rooftop garden. Inside Scoop: No unmarked doors at first glance, though if you befriend the owner, he hand you an actual key, so you can access the bar via an unmarked door in the adjacent apartment building. It's here, you can avoid the crowds when it's hoppin' and enterthrough an underground passageway. (How cool is that!?!) 
23 / 25
0
23

Green Mill Chicago

Chicago, Illinois
A glowing jazz spot that Al Capone frequented during his reign of the Windy City, this joint bopped as the mecca for the old cats and young lions, keeping a sophisticated yet informal art deco air about it. How to Find It: Forever snapping its fingers in uptown, find it by sneaking off the El's Red Line at Lawrence and head one block west for glory. Inside Scoop: Take up a seat at the Capone booth, where the kingpin himself could see every door in case of a raid, and enjoy an unbelievable cocktail and unstoppable band.
24 / 25
0
24

The Green Light

Raleigh, North Carolina
A grand night awaits you behind a hidden door off a bustling downtown street. Once an architect’s office, this bar within a bar offers friendly vibes and welcomes intimate conversation, and whether a cocktail newbie or connoisseur, there’s something for you here. How To Find It: You actually enter the cozy tavern through a bookcase in The Architect, another killer drinking spot.
25 / 25
0
25
photo Bathtub Gin

Bathtub Gin

Manhattan, New York
Bathtub Gin is a dimly lit beautifully decorated room with a large copper bathtub in the middle of it as a nod to the process of making spirits from scratch in the Prohibition era. You must try some of the carefully crafted cocktails like  the Negroni Bianco and the namesake Bathtub Gin Martini. How To Find It: Head to 132 9th avenue and enter through a hidden door in the wall of a Stone Street Coffee Company
show comments