5 Secret Speakeasies That Serve up Some Seriously Good Cocktails
Even though Prohibition is no longer in effect, people’s enthusiasm for vintage-themed taverns is at an all-time high. Speakeasies are no longer a thing of the past; they’re now a popular place to spend a night out in numerous cities around the United States, if not the entire world.
Speakeasies weren’t always a novelty for bartenders and mixologists. These clandestine establishments, also known as “gin joints” and “blind pigs,” arose in response to the restricted alcohol ban during Prohibition, according to The Mob Museum in Las Vegas. Even though Prohibition was designed to sober up the country, it had the opposite effect, resulting in a huge profit for many illegal alcohol distributors (known as bootleggers), including Al Capone.
Back rooms of other companies, cellars, and even people’s houses were common locations for these bars. The phrase “speakeasy” may have originated from patrons speaking passwords through small gaps in the door to gain entry, according to History.com. They were not simply a location to have a hard drink, but they also entertained the crowd with live jazz music.
Speakeasies don’t have to contend with bootleggers like Al Capone any longer, nor do they have to hide from the law. The contemporary speakeasy trend is somewhat more above ground, but still retains some of the fun characteristics of the original, such as passwords, vintage decor, finger snacks, and popular cocktails.
1. PDT, New York City, New York
We couldn’t provide all of NYC’s fantastic hidden bars on this list because there are several, but this is one of the city’s most well-known speakeasies. PDT, which stands for “Please Don’t Tell,” is an unexpectedly posh bar hidden behind a phone booth in an East Village hot dog business. It’s best to make a reservation ahead of time, and then enter the phone booth and dial 1 to unlock the secret entrance. Then, if you’re hungry, order some selected cocktails (or hot dogs).
2. Apotheke, New York City, New York
Apotheke is influenced by old-fashioned pharmacies, as the name suggests (also known as apothecaries). Drinks are served in vintage medicine bottles at this speakeasy, which fits the concept perfectly. For those who want to feel genuinely Bohemian, they also provide a large selection of absinthe. To reach there, walk down a side street in Chinatown and look for a sign that reads “Chemist” in front of the bar’s address number.
3. Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Because it’s themed after one of the major illegal alcohol rings during Prohibition, this speakeasy has considerable historical significance. Because there is no password, it is a little easier to get in but make a reservation ahead of time. With drink categories like Rebellious Spirits, the bar’s menu refers to its nickname. Plus, if you’re in the mood for something tropical, there’s a tiki bar upstairs.
4. The Violet Hour, Chicago, Illinois
This pub typifies the term “don’t judge a book by its cover,” because from the exterior, you’d never believe there was a lavish, ritzy bar inside. The entrance is in a back alley behind a row of stores, with a lovely facade painted with a constantly changing mural. This graffiti isn’t your ordinary street art; it’s the entrance of a posh lounge with inventive cocktails, velvet drapes, and luxurious furnishings.
5. Midnight Cowboy, Austin, Texas
On 6th Street in Austin, there are many fantastic bars, but this one is identified by a suspicious sign. You’ll discover Midnight Cowboy Modeling Oriental Massage inside a former brothel if you seek at a sign that says “Midnight Cowboy Modeling Oriental Massage.” You’re in for some fantastic cocktails with intriguing Texas vibes if you press the “Harry Craddock” doorbell. Reservations are normally necessary, and only two-hour time windows are offered. The bar, which has a back terrace, may also welcome walk-ins, but only when the vacancy sign is on.
6. The Patterson House, Nashville, Tennessee
The history of the speakeasy is taken seriously at this Tennessee tavern. With its dark wood paneling and silver wallpaper, it takes you to the Roaring Twenties. There are also no phones, standing, or spontaneous hookups. Decorum is paramount here, but in exchange for abiding by the rules, you’ll be rewarded with delicious cocktails, pleasant conversation, and a respite from the city’s other crowded, loud bars. This bar appears to be an excellent choice for a nightcap (as long as you also follow the dress code).
7. The Gibson, Washington, D.C.
This opulent speakeasy is home to some of the most inventive and well-curated cocktails ever concocted. Many of the bar’s best drinks combine a few well-known spirits with some unfamiliar components, such as Don Ciccio Rabarbaro (a rhubarb liqueur), Genepey (an herbal liqueur), and Nardini Aqua di Cedro (a citrus liqueur). There are also some non-alcoholic and bespoke cocktails available. Find a door between two other D.C. restaurants – Marvin’s and Busboys & Poets – and wait to be seated to get inside (and get your specialty drink).