The concept behind speakeasy-style bars is nothing new, but some bars strive further to deliver an elaborate experience where guests can enjoy high quality cocktails in a cozy space reminiscent of the Prohibition era. Whether the elusive entrance requires a password or pushing aside a bookshelf, you have to appreciate those mysterious hidden bars showcasing some of the finest craft cocktails out there. Here’s some of the best secret bars in America:
Employees Only – New York City
There’s an endless array of bars when it comes to New York City, but there are only a select few that truly stand out. Welcome to Employees Only. This Prohibition-style bar serves up some innovative cocktails. Look for the fluorescent “psychic” sign in the window out front and walk past an actual psychic through the covered entrance. You’ll emerge in an intimate space where passionate bartenders don white chef jackets and go the extra mile to ensure you have the best drinking experience possible. You can’t go wrong with any of the EO classics, or try one of the fancy cocktails. In addition to the fabulous spirits, the kitchen dishes out tasty plates like bone marrow poppers and Reuben croquettes. Guests can even opt for a tarot card reading after enjoying a few drinks. Cheers!
510 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
The Office – Chicago
Chicago is home to one of the most unique bars in the world, The Aviary. Tucked away in the basement behind a locked door, you’ll find a quaint little bar called The Office. These cocktails are different from the super showy creations being presented upstairs. The skillful bartenders can create excellent hand crafted cocktails based on your preferences. They also possess a very impressive selection of whiskey. With limited seating, entry is by invitation only or knowing somebody nice enough to snag you a reservation. The top shelf spirits, high quality ingredients, and careful craftsmanship of each cocktail are well worth the price tag.
955 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607
Hop Sing Laundromat – Philadelphia
Who knew Philadelphia’s Chinatown would be the site of one of the nicest hidden bars around? Marked by an unassuming iron door, Hop Sing Laundromat is a large swanky speakeasy that boasts an extensive menu of delectable cocktails. The entry process is pretty intimidating. Be prepared to wait most nights, and be sure to abide by all the house rules that are presented once you’re granted access – no phone calls, no pictures, no jeans, no sneakers. They have the right to turn you away for any given reason. Seriously, they don’t mess around. Follow the rules and you’ll be rewarded with one of the finest drinking experiences well worth the second thoughts. It’s cash only, so be sure to bring more than enough.
1029 Race Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
The Varnish – Los Angeles
The team behind The Varnish are well versed in the craft cocktail scene. The downtown speakeasy sits inside the back of Cole’s French Dip restaurant past a discreet door marked only by a picture of a glass. The small space is dark and elegant. Order a classic cocktail or try the Bartender’s Choice – describe the drink of your dreams and they’ll make it a reality. Sit back, relax, and savor every sip. Guests can enjoy live jazz music or piano playing certain nights. Seating is first come, first served, so come early.
118 E 6th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90014
Death & Co. – New York City
Death & Co
It’s no surprise that Death & Company has become a cocktail institution with its incredible staff, amazing bartenders, and original creations. Walking past a set of dark wooden doors, you wouldn’t realize that some of the top rated cocktails in the world are being made by highly skilled bartenders in bowties and suspenders. The dimly lit intimate interior includes granite tables, crystal chandeliers, and a very cool vibe. Put your name on the waiting list and wait for a text, it’s well worth it. The drink menu provides many options to choose from – pick your poison. Oh, and don’t overlook the yummy bites either. Pork belly skewers, anyone?
433 E 6th Street, New York, NY 10009
Noble Experiment – San Diego
Downtown San Diego’s claim to speakeasy fame is Noble Experiment. Once inside the Neighborhood Bar & Grill, make your way towards the back where you’ll spot a wall of stacked kegs. Push the wall open to reveal the hostess stand. The narrow space boasts small tables, leather seats, loud music, and an entire wall covered with gold coated skulls. Creepy. The menu features cocktails that can be enjoyed in their classic form or with a modern twist, or perhaps you want to leave it up to the bartenders by selecting the Dealers Choice. Reservations are highly recommended and made via text only.
777 G Street, San Diego, CA 92101
Williams & Graham – Denver
Adam Larkey Photography
Located in Denver’s trendy LoHi neighborhood, Williams & Graham is a Prohibition-era speakeasy that transforms you back to the roaring twenties. You’ll find a solid cocktail menu that features spirits from all over the world. Try the refreshing Brighton Beach, or have a taste of Jared Leto’s Pretty Face. Savory small plates include deviled eggs and incredible roasted bone marrow. You might even want to save room for the homemade desserts.
3160 Tejon Street, Denver, CO 80211
Firehouse Lounge – Austin
This lively Firehouse Lounge can be found inside Austin’s oldest standing fire station built in 1885. Find the bookcase and make your way inside. The knowledgeable and friendly bartenders take pride in creating some of the best classic cocktails, along with seasonal originals. Sip on a fantastic Old Fashioned or equally amazing Negroni. There also happens to be a hostel upstairs for those who want to stay in the heart of downtown’s entertainment district. How convenient!
605 Brazos Street, Austin, TX 78701
Wilson & Wilson – San Francisco
Yellow Owl Workshop
A speakeasy within a speakeasy? Yep. Located within Bourbon & Branch is the dark and cozy Wilson & Wilson. Guests are escorted to a door and buzzed in after saying the password that is provided with the required reservation. There are a few house rules to abide by, but you’ll be more than happy to because the cocktails and spirits lists are well worth it. Can’t decide what to drink? Go for the 3-course spirit tasting. Walk carefully, this bar has a few surprises as well.
505 Jones Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
PDT – New York City
Ah, back to New York City one last time! It’s extremely difficult to talk about the top speakeasies without mentioning PDT, standing for Please Don’t Tell. This classic hidden bar is hardly a secret, thanks to word of mouth and the fabulous drinks. Hidden within a phone booth located inside Crif Dogs, this place may have one of the coolest entrances ever. Pick up the old fashioned pay phone and dial “1”, and wait for somebody to open the door. Patrons lucky enough to get a seat or manage a reservation can sip on innovative cocktails while munching on deliciously creative hot dogs.
113 St Marks Place, New York, NY 10009
What’s Your Favorite Secret Bar? Reply below!