It is impossible to access any of these hidden bars without knowing the password. Although Prohibition is long gone, the popularity of vintage-themed bars is at an all-time high. In many U.S. cities, as well as around the world, speakeasies are no longer just a thing of the past – they’re an exciting way to go out on a night out.
Speakeasies were once more than just a gimmick for bartenders and mixologists. In Las Vegas, The Mob Museum states that these hidden establishments came into existence as a result of Prohibition’s strict alcohol regulations. Despite Prohibition’s goals of sobering up the country, it had the opposite effect, causing many illegal alcohol sellers (known as bootleggers), including Al Capone, to thrive.
In most major cities today, savvy bar-goers know of at least one speakeasy. Here are some intriguing options you may want to consider and see if there’s one near you.
The 12 Most Glamorous Speakeasies In The U.S.
PDT – New York City, New York
First up, we have New York City’s PDT. This is probably one of the more well-known speakeasies in NYC, but we couldn’t include all of those incredible hidden spots in our list due to their number. PDT, which stands for “Please Don’t Tell,” is located behind a phone booth in a hot dog joint in East Village.
You will need a reservation early, and to access the secret door, you will need to enter the booth and dial 1. After that, you can enjoy curated cocktails (and even grab hot dogs, if you get hungry).
Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Speakeasy courtesy of the largest illegal alcohol ring of the Prohibition era has some historic ties. While you don’t need a password to get in, make a reservation before you go. On the menu, cocktails such as Rebellious Spirits pay homage to the bar’s name. You can also visit the tiki bar upstairs if that’s more your style.
The Violet Hour – Chicago, Illinois
Third on the list is Chicago’s The Violet Hour. If you only saw the outside of this bar, you would never guess it contained a luxurious, ritzy bar. A beautiful facade painted with an ever-changing mural greets you in the alley behind a row of businesses. You can enter a swanky lounge through this graffiti art – velvet curtains, creative cocktails, and plush décor make this not your typical street art.
Midnight Cowboy – Austin, Texas
The 6th Street area around Austin is filled with great bars, and this one has an unattractive sign. Located in a former brothel, Midnight Cowboy is called Midnight Cowboy Modelling Oriental Massage. Look for a sign with that name and you’ll find the right place.
Pressing the “Harry Craddock” buzzer will lead you to some incredible cocktail combinations. Reservations are usually required and are only available in two-hour time slots. There is some room for walk-ins in the bar, which has a back patio, but only when the vacancy sign is illuminated.
The Patterson House – Nashville, Tennessee
The history of the speakeasy is taken seriously at this Tennessee bar. Silver wallpaper and dark wood paneling give the room a 1920s feel. The room is free of phones, standing, and random hookups. Here, decorum is important, but you’ll receive excellent cocktails, decent conversation, and a chance to escape the other noisy, crowded bars. As long as you are also dressed appropriately, this bar would be a great place to have a nightcap.
El Carajo International Tapas & Wines – Miami, Florida
The focus of all speakeasies need not be on signature cocktails. There are over 600 wines and sakes offered at this hidden bar inside a former Mobil convenience store. Tapas are, of course, the perfect accompaniment to wine.
There might not be a secret behind El Carajo, but its modest look certainly fools anyone who isn’t looking for it.
The Gibson – Washington, D.C.
There might be no better place to find curated cocktails than this luxe speakeasy. Most of the bar’s best drinks combine familiar spirits with exotic ingredients like Nardini Aqua di Cedro (a citrus liqueur), Genepey (an herbal liqueur), and Don Ciccio Rabarbaro (a rhubarb liqueur).
Besides alcoholic cocktails, they offer some non-alcoholic ones as well. Find the door between two other D.C. buildings (and get a specialty drink) to enter. You can book a table at Marvin’s and Busboys & Poets’ restaurants.
My Bar 635 – New Orleans, Louisiana
You can find this bar on Bourbon Street easily since there is a street-level bar and a second-floor speakeasy. Observe the party below from the upstairs balcony while escaping hectic Bourbon Street.
There is nothing like authentic 1920’s vibes and live jazz music in New Orleans, so if you’re a fan of both, this could be the perfect watering hole for you.
Melinda’s Alley – Phoenix, Arizona
Next, we have Melida’s Alley in Arizona. Hidden between Monroe and Adams streets in downtown Phoenix, this speakeasy bar is only marked by a red light. You can go to this bar every week, and even if you did, you’d have a different experience every time because the menu of five signature cocktails changes each week. Sit on vintage furniture and enjoy a creative cocktail while immersed in the speakeasy atmosphere drenched in moody red lighting.
Williams and Graham – Denver, Colorado
Despite this unique late-night speakeasy’s facade, don’t be fooled. It looks like a book store from the front, as the bar is hidden behind it. Choosing a book to wear is the first step and voila! There’s an incredible food menu, including mac and cheese with bacon jam and lobster BLTs, as well as over 60 carefully crafted cocktails.
Circa 33, Portland, Oregon
Circa 33 pays homage to the repeal of Prohibition, which took place in 1933. Over 100 varieties of whiskey and bourbon are available at this speakeasy, making it a whiskey and bourbon lover’s dream.
The thing that makes this speakeasy stand out from all the rest is that it’s not just about food and drinks – there are some entertaining recreational activities you don’t find in most speakeasies anymore.
Wilson & Wilson Private Detective Agency, San Francisco, California
The final speakeasy we will explore is California’s Wilson & Wilson Private Detective Agency. There may be only one speakeasy in the entire world that is located within another speakeasy. You must first enter Bourbon & Branch (via a password) to get access to this detective bar.
There is also another password you need to memorize to get into Wilson & Wilson, but it is worth it all. The attention to detail in this bar will appeal to film noir fans, as the drinks are named after famous detectives.
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