5 Speakeasy and Hidden Bars To Check Out in Singapore
Singapore’s cocktail scene has developed quite a bit since the Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel. You just have to know where to look.
28 Hong Kong Street
28 Hong Kong Street has helped shape the cocktail scene in Singapore as they were one of the first speakeasy bars in the city. They have a very sexy and incredibly innovative cocktail menu that you should delve deep into. Their boutique spirits are worth trying too – be sure to ask for recommendations.
What to order: An Old Fashioned – they can make it from anything you like.
28 Hong Kong Street, Singapore, 059667 | Phone: +65 6533 2001
For a bar that’s hidden behind a secret door and requires a password to get in, The Library is possibly Singapore’s worst kept secret. You can find the password, which changes often, on their Facebook Page, or you can pop next door to their sister restaurant, The Study, and ask the staff for it.
Modeled to look like the speakeasy establishments in the Prohibition era, the bar is dark, with wall-to-wall bottles of alcohol behind the bar, and the vibe is almost too-cool-to-care. But oh, they do care, especially about their cocktails. The cocktails are creative, and often playful, served in copper mugs. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want in a drink, and have them recommend a mug of magic.
What to order: Bloody Mary with lamb fat-washed vodka
47 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089153 | Tel: +65 6221 8338
Located in the equivalent of Williamsburg of Singapore, Bincho at Hua Bee is a tiny bar/ restaurant occupying the back of a half-a-century-old traditional Chinese mee pok eatery that is still in operation. The mee pok spot continues to run in the day while Bincho operates during lunch and dinner hours. Be sure to get a reservation because this space is tiny; even if you find you’re practically sitting on someone else’s lap, this place is absolutely worth it. They have a solid selection of sake, whisky, and beers from craft brewer Hitachino, as well as cocktails. Be sure to try their rooster comb as a bar snack.
What to order: Banks of Bincho, a concoction that includes Taketsuru Whisky, Angostura bitters and Mikan juice.
78 Moh Guan Terrace, Unit 01-19, Singapore 162078 | Phone: +65 6438 4567
If you think the rest of the ones of this list is not exactly hidden, Operation Dagger will send you on a treasure hunt. The only sign to the bar is a vampire-like scrawl at the entrance before you find yourself in a dark corridor and stairwell that leads you into a unique bar experience in Singapore. Much of the spirits have been distilled locally, so instead of familiar brands lining the bar, you’ll see apothecary-like bottles, with labels scrawled by hand.
What to order: Gomashio, black sesame distilled cocktail with citrus notes. Or you can also ask for the Omakase experience.
7 Ann Siang Hill, Singapore, 069791
Ah Sam Cold Drinks Stall
There is a “love-you-long-time” massage parlor on the third floor of the shophouse that Ah Sam Cold Drinks Stall calls home; where you want to go is on the second (at least we hope). Located in the tourist trap and seedy bars central that is Boat Quay, Ah Sam Cold Drinks Stall is not like the others around the area. The bar is small, and they don’t try too hard, but what they do, they do it well.
What to order: Any of their localized cocktails. Think drinks inspired by Milo, Gula Melaka and Potong ice cream.
60 Boat Quay, Singapore 049848
The best secret bars in London
There are still some secrets left in this city, like these brilliant hidden bars. Shh. don’t tell anyone!
So you&rsquove been with your mates to the best bars in the city. You&rsquove already taken your significant other to the most impressive date night spots in town. Now how to show off? What about a night out on the inside track? London is swimming in secretive bars shrouded in darkness, beind hidden entrances and with plenty of surprises in store. Don&rsquot worry though we&rsquoll let you in on our favourite little secret bars for a big night out under the radar.
Room 901 Is The Not-So-Secret Speakeasy Taking Fort Lauderdale By Storm
Escape to Fort Lauderdale’s Hyatt Centric Las Olas for an unexpected speakeasy experience featuring an evolving bartender-in-residence program that invites bars from around the country (many of which are closed as a result of the pandemic) to host pop-up activations that keep their bars top of mind and offer them all the perks of a South Florida vacation and time back behind the stick.
An idea born during the pandemic when hotels were facing abnormally low occupancy rates, Room 901 is a guest room turned secret speakeasy where talented bartenders are given the chance to be in the limelight again — while being provided airfare, room and board, and the chance to make hourly wages and tips from patrons visiting the bar.
In early March, famed Washington D.C. speakeasy, The Gibson, brought a few of its signature cocktails as well as some South Florida themed libations for a two week pop up that sold out almost instantly.
Up next behind the bar is Miami’s Giovanny Gutierrez, aka Chat Chow, who will be taking residence from March 30th to April 1st and converting 901 in a bespoke Rum Room. Sugarcane lovers will have the opportunity to imbibe on elevated classic rum cocktails, with a twist. Menu highlights to include the Pepe Colada a clarified, stirred piña colada served neat with Havana Club rum Not A Rum & Coke with house-made cola syrup, bubbles, and Santa Teresa Rum and Gutierrez’s favorite, the classic Cuban El Presidente — except this one is barrel-aged in new American oak.
The cocktails at Room 901 will rotate with each activation
Hyatt Centric Las Olas Fort Lauderdale
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Those who crave old school elegant cocktails (hello, martinis) and dive bar vibes will be delighted to discover Unfiltered Hospitality, a consulting company by Miami bar veterans Ben Potts (Beaker & Gray and The Sylvester) and Gui Jaroschy (formerly of Broken Shaker), will be donning vintage peach-colored tuxedos and taking over for a short stint on April 2nd and 3rd aptly named “Semi-Formal.” The menu will feature the skilled bartenders making perfect classic cocktails served in a distinctly outdated style (think bright red cherries or one olive on a skinny pick, etc) pairing each with a bar snack. Cocktails include the OG Turf Cocktail with dry gin, French vermouth, kushy orange bitters, and absinthe Caramelized Onion Boulevardier with bourbon, Campari, sweet vermouth, and a caramelized onion and the Champagne Cocktail made with pear cognac, herby bitters, champagne, and cocktail cologne.
In mid-April Midnight Cowboy from Austin will be calling 901 home, followed by Red Booth out of Atlanta in May, and plans of Los Angeles’ Adult’s Only soon to come. Check the calendar often as you never know who might be making an appearance at the exclusive speakeasy.
While each bar popping up brings its own cocktail menu and theme, the room’s decor throws it back to the roaring 1920’s with bookshelves lined with vintage titles, a record player, plush velvet furniture, inspired playlists, antique artifacts and artwork. Of course there’s a food menu to help soak up the boozy beverages. The hotel’s executive chef, Greg McGowan, has created a few dishes that add an extra touch of indulgence to the experience. These items include mini Connecticut-style lobster rolls roasted bone marrow with spicy pickled vegetables, peach, and mango and house fried potato chips tossed in duck fat and served with truffle crème fraiche.
5 New Unique Themed Bars To Check Out
When it comes to bars, it’s the drinks that matter for some. But for others, it’s the whole experience that takes a night out from okay to fantabulous. If you belong to the latter camp, check out these cool new themed bars — from retro-style spaces to ones with a steampunk twist.
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Rails, a steampunk-inspired bar and lounge by lifestyle brand A Phat Cat Collective has just opened its doors.
The thematic getaway draws on Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and Jinrikisha Station, and is envisioned as a train platform with a steampunk twist.
The decor includes a LED-lit installation of a steampunk clock tower, studded with gears and cogwheels that trail up to the ceiling that form the DJ console, a glass-paneled bar counter with exposed brass pipelines, and an entrance fashioned like a vintage elevator shuttered with steel scissor gates.
Sip on inventive cocktails – choose from fizzy refreshers, milk-based tipples, or bold, stiffer options. There’s even a Murder On The Orient Express cocktail ($25), inspired by the famous novel of the same name, which is a dark concoction of an acquired, licorice lace of absinthe, coffee liqueur, pear, pineapple, and orange juice shaken with activated charcoal.
If you’re feeling peckish, the bar serves up bites from Chix Hot Chicken, known for its Nashville fried chicken. Tame your bellies with fried chicken sandwiches, sliders, or a hearty breakfast wrap.
Rails is at 21 Tanjong Pagar Road, #01-02, Singapore 088444.
Right next to Rails is Nineteen80, which is quite literally a blast to the past. It’s not new but has been recently expanded with new spaces and decor. This arcade-meets-bar at Tanjong Pagar is decked in neon lights, a kaleidoscope of colours, a backdrop of cassette tapes, old school arcade games and video characters – think Pac-Man, Streetfighters and even a pixellated Bruce Lee wall.
Bop to groovy retro beats as you sip on equally fun cocktails like Banana Julius Flip with vodka and Crème de Banana Liqueur, and Purple Rain (named after Prince’s iconic movie), with vodka, Blue Curacao, grenadine, fruit juices, Yakult Ace Light. Hungry? Grab a hot chicken sandwich or Dirty Taters from Chix Hot Chicken.
Nineteen80 is at #01-05 21 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088444. Visit its website for more.
Go back further in time to the sixties over at Yum Sing!
This experiential dining and entertainment concept which opened just earlier this year celebrates the vibrant 1960s with both its food and decor. From its rattan chairs and timber panels to bright neon lights, a pair of lion dance costumes, and advertisement boards, the furnishings harken back to a bygone era.
Dig into local favourites like Hokkien mee, prawn paste chicken wings, Hainanese chicken rice, bak kut teh and chilli crab. Drinks-wise, give its Singapore-inspired signatures a whirl there are the Kopi-O Gao, Yum Sling and Kaya Toast Set cocktails.
Yum Sing is at 3B River Valley Road, #01-06/07, Clarke Quay, Singapore 179021.
Marianne’s, lounge inside of The Cavalier at Hotel Zetta in SOMA
Dimly lit, romantic and resembling the speakeasies of yesteryear, Marianne’s is a club and private bar set behind Hotel Zetta’s The Cavalier, the three-star hotspot from the team behind Marlowe and Park Tavern.
Marianne’s is open to the public and offers private booths for parties of up to eight, or shared spaces with a time limit of an hour and a half. Bites like fried squash blossoms, fingerling potatoes with aioli and Dungeness crab are offered only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays during limited hours (so don’t expect to eat on Thursday), and craft cocktails feature unusual names like Sticky Fingers, Honey Bang Me Sloe and Indian Summer.
360 Jessie Street, San Francisco
Shhh! Secret passcodes, speakeasies and menu items make hospitality a game of hide-and-seek
Perhaps I was supposed to feel special and in-the-know, but mainly I felt like a dork. It was 11 p.m. on a Thursday in Fort Lauderdale, and I couldn’t figure out how to open a secret door. I had gotten my passcode online earlier in the day, punched the magic numbers 2584 into the keypad and attempted to pry open what looked like a sliding wall that would lead from the Brass Tap brewpub on North Federal Highway to a hidden lair known as Unit B.
It was my second clandestine adventure of the night after an earlier one at the new Sidecar Speakeasy in Hollywood. That went smoothly because the lock-and-passcode system still hadn’t been installed. I simply waltzed in from the adjoining restaurant.
But at the Brass Tap I felt like I had hit a dead end. I shook, shimmied and jimmied two handles protruding from the wall. Nothing. I shook my head.
“Push – push the door,” a brewpub busser who looked no older than 20 said with the world-weariness of someone who’d uttered the words a thousand times before.
I pushed the door. I saw a staircase. I climbed to the second floor, where a hidden world awaited, one with well-dressed patrons, dim lighting, brown liquors and dark furnishings.
All I could think was, “Isn’t Prohibition over?"
Apparently not. Speakeasies are a thing in South Florida. And secrets at local restaurants have become as fashionable as redactions in D.C. There are hidden bars with secret entrances and passcodes. There are hidden specials with “secret menus” and promotions that aren’t readily known or shared.
Sometimes I wonder if restaurateurs are running exclusive clubs that would rather not have me as a member. Sometimes I fume that more information and benefits are given to those who “like” or “follow” an establishment through social media than those who show up in the flesh. Mostly I’m baffled why the hospitality business – which by nature should be warm and welcoming – has turned into a giant game of hide-and-seek.
“It seems everyone wants this sense of discovery and exclusiveness, but then they get ticked off if they get left out,” restaurateur Tim Petrillo says. For that reason Petrillo’s company The Restaurant People, which runs nine restaurants and bars in Fort Lauderdale and Tallahassee, has not opened any speakeasies and does not offer secret menu items.
But Marc Falsetto, founder of Fort Lauderdale-based JEY Hospitality (Rok:Brgr, Tacocraft, Henry’s Sandwich Station), is a proponent of both. He says a younger clientele enjoys ordering off-menu specials they learn about through social media or word-of-mouth, including “animal style” chicken sandwiches at Henry’s (dunked in special sauce with bacon, a nod to West Coast burger chain In-n-Out’s signature secret menu style) and “Big 3” burgers (with three 10-ounce patties) at Rok:Brgr.
Secret menu items and other gimmicks have been irksome in the course of my restaurant travels. When I first dined at upscale JWB Prime Steak and Seafood in the Margaritaville Resort in Hollywood, sushi wasn’t on the menu and I had no idea it was offered until I saw some pretty platters waltz past. Major chains such as Wawa and Starbucks routinely offer secret menu items, although I don’t know how one is supposed to learn of them. When I dined at Loch Bar in Boca Raton earlier this year, I forgot to ask about “the legend of the hoof,” which supposedly would have brought a surprise. I still don’t know what I missed out on. Call me old-fashioned, or just old and grumpy, but I really like when an establishment informs me of all its offerings with a menu, blackboard or human being who recites specials.
My frustration also applies to secret hideouts and insider dens. Monkitail restaurant at the Diplomat Resort in Hollywood has a somewhat hidden karaoke lounge that unsuspecting diners might miss. Chef Brad Kilgore recently opened Kaido restaurant in Miami with a separate-menu, reservations-only dining room dubbed Ama. (A restaurant within a restaurant -- this is where my head starts to explode).
In November 2015 Falsetto opened the Apothecary, a speakeasy behind a hidden wall, in a back room of his Pizzacraft restaurant in Himmarshee Village. At first, entry was restricted to 1,500 VIPs and JEY Hospitality customers who had been mailed special coins. Later, sensing that “the Fort Lauderdale vibe” wasn’t conducive to speakeasy culture, he opened the Apothecary to all who learned about it and wanted to enter.
Cool Bars in Chinatown
Searching for this basement bar, which is hidden in a rather nondescript building, requires a sharp eye. A glass door marked by an enigmatic symbol is your only clue to its location. Descend the dark staircase, and you’ll find a bitty, minimal space illuminated by thousands of clustered lightbulbs, and a spry trio whipping up intriguing cocktails and Asian-inspired bar bites. (Note: Operation Dagger will be shifting to a new location soon.)
7 Ann Siang Hill | 6438 4057
On weekends, the fuss-free bar has tables spilling out onto the roadside, crammed with folks nursing beers, wines and strong cocktails. To pad stomachs, the bar also has a decent list of bar grub and heartier plates like the wagyu shabu burger and creamy avocado pasta.
10 Ann Siang Hill | 6423 9562
Nutmeg & Clove
Housed on the ground floor of a Cantonese clan association, this bespoke bar pays tribute to its surroundings with décor reminiscent of an olden Chinese medicine hall and cocktails inspired by Singapore’s colonial era. Traditional herbs and ingredients like Chinese hawthorne and red dates are commonplace here, and bring an unexpected depth to each drink. To complement the cocktails, order locally inspired nibbles like prawn paste buffalo wings and nutmeg and clove-flavoured pancakes with bak kwa, maple syrup and spiced cream cheese.
10a Ann Siang Road | 9389 9301
Jigger & Pony
Drawing both well-dressed corporates and creative sorts, Jigger & Pony’s all about classic cocktails shaken up with the meticulous Japanese method of bartending. The menu is divided into Old Fashioned, Forgotten Classics and Modern twists, urging guests to try familiar tipples in lesser-seen forms. The nosh here is simple yet elegant, with rice boxes inspired by local flavours such as beef rendang and the vegetarian and keto-friendly biryani with cauliflower rice and kachumber raita.
165 Tanjong Pagar Road | 9621 1074
Go back to the origins of speakeasy culture at these bars in Chicago
It seems almost laughable to call a bar a “speakeasy” in these days — it’s neither elusive nor prohibited. But like any other culture gone popular, it all began somewhere. For the speakeasy bar culture, it all harks back to the Prohibition Era in Chicago. When you visit these bars in Chicago, you’ll know why.
The real speakeasy bars originated during a time of need and became rampant in Chicago and New York long before it became a glamorous design gimmick. In the 1920s, these two cities were the breeding grounds for speakeasies when alcohol was outlawed. These places catered to sly patrons with a penchant for finding the right doors. The heart of speakeasy culture was born of community — a physical extension of a coterie of boozy chums, if you will.
Needless to say, the idea of a speakeasy in today’s culture has been appropriated to death, feeding on the desire for novelty while disregarding history. If you ask us, it’s high time we pay homage to the cities home to these storied past.
Here is our list of the best speakeasy-style bars in Chicago to visit.
This may not be the oldest, most authentic speakeasy, but it is certainly the classiest. The Violet Hour opened its doors in 2007 with Great Gatsby-esque interior. Together with innovative cocktails like Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta and Penguin’s Suit, this is one secret hideout you do not want to miss. Fancy a visit? Feel your way along the steam-punk clockwork mural on Damen Avenue to find the handle to this mysterious location.
Sketchy entrance? Check. Password-protected? Check. Exclusive to members? Check. Membership to this bar can be applied at the Old Chicago Inn, which houses this speakeasy. Guests who book a room at the hotel are also entitled to entry. Soaked in old-world neon lighting and the buzzing sounds of jazz bands, sip classic, s-era cocktails like Manhattan, Old Fashioned, and French 75s.
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After closing its Fort Canning venue due to Covid-19, The Fabulous Baker Boy has reopened its doors with a new 70-seater space at Aliwal Arts Centre.
And along with that, it’s also announced that it is in the midst of applying to be Halal-certified as it takes awhile to be approved, and uses only 100 per cent halal ingredients, including its cakes, which contain no form of alcohol.
It’s best known for its repertoire of artisanal cakes, including the signature Blueberry Lemon Yoghurt, and also does a mean rendition of waffles and chicken. But there are new additions to the menu, too, like sourdough bread, Hasselback potatoes, and ravioli.
The Fabulous Baker Boy is at 28 Aliwal St, #01-01, Singapore 199918.
With its first cafe located in Tampines, Three’s A Crowd has opened a new outlet in the Little India area. All raw concrete walls and industrial-minimalist vibes, the ice cream cafe is a cool dessert spot for freshly churned handcrafted ice cream, homemade waffles (like its ondeh waffles with coconut ice-cream), and acai and coffee.
For the ice cream flavours, tantalise your tastebuds with scrumptious treats like Dark Gianduja, Speculoos, Espresso, Oreo Mint, Mango Passion and Coconut.
Three’s A Crowd is at 50 Race Course Road, Singapore 218562.
This Western fusion cafe certainly dishes up, as its name and neon sign proclaims, good bites and good vibes. Just check out its pretty gram-worthy decor, which sees neon-lit green wall, strings of lights that illuminate its outdoor space, a retro electric toy car, and retro lounge chairs and booth seats.
Sink your teeth into the likes of the popular Egg-ploding Burger, with crispy chicken thigh and egg nacho mayo, Laksa Pasta, and Baked Salmon, all at affordable prices. If you’re after a sweet treat, order the molten chocolate lava cake,and waffles with ice cream.
Good Bites is at 5 Bishan Street 14, Bishan Sports Hall, #03-01, Singapore 579783.
While not new, The Bravery Cafe has relocated from its original Lavender Street home to Amoy Street. Its new premise boasts a chic contemporary aesthetic of brass, rattan, and wood to offer a respite from the busy CBD area.
Tuck into the hearty Big Brekkie or Steak N Eggs, or the tempting Pancake Stack or caramelised brioche toast if you’re craving something sweet. There’s also a Keto Bowl, pasta, and other mains.
Feeling peckish in the afternoon? Treat yourself to its burnt cheesecake or brownies and order a cup of its signature Lavender Latte or Matcha Latte to go along.
The Bravery Cafe is at 50 Amoy St, Singapore 069876.
For tacos, burritos, ceviche other Mexican favourites, head to Afterwit to get your fix.
After a revamp last year, the halal Muslim-owned Mexican taqueria reopened to unveil vibrant exteriors and equally snazzy interiors. You’ll find neon-lit signs, a wall plastered with Mexican posters and a raw, urban aesthetic.
Apart from classics like pulled meat, interesting options for its tacos include fried octopus and coffee braised beef cheeks with truffle mayo. Or get sipping on beverages such as the alcohol-free Berry Mojito, Pina Cilantro, and Margarita Zero.
Afterwit is at 778 North Bridge Road, Singapore 198786.
If you’re hankering for French cuisine, make a beeline for The White Label, a new halal French restaurant located at Beach Road. Here, you’ll find French-Malayan fusion cuisine, with halal dishes infused with a local flavour.
Expect to dine on French classics like Short Ribs Bourguignon and Herb Crusted Lamb Rack, as well as fusion fare like Squid Ink Spaghetti (made with ‘sotong masak hitam’ sauce), and Ondeh-Ondeh gateau.
Its interiors are gorgeous, too, with elegant light fixtures, green velvet seats and gold-toned accents.
The White Label is at 734 North Bridge Rd, #01-01, Singapore 198702.
Easties, there’s yet another cafe to hit up in the neighbourhood.
Bayshore Park Condominium at Siglap is now also home to Alto Cafe, a chic . And you don’t have to live there to visit the cafe all you have to do is inform the security guard, and bring along your personal identification documents for registration.
It’s opened by two friends, Ross and Rash, with an aim to offer good, fresh food at pocket-friendly prices. There are the usual brunch suspects of avo smash and eggs benny, but also items like croissantwiches, pesto sourdough sandwiches, and savoury waffles, which you can enjoy amidst a chill, airy environment with lots of plants and calming wood elements.
13 Swank Speakeasies Hiding in Plain Sight
Every wondered why so many speakeasies were located below a hotel? The Raines law, passed by the New York State Legislature on March 23, 1896, was meant to curb the consumption of alcohol by imposing regulations. Among them was that alcohol could only be served at hotels on Sundays and only to guests if it was served with a meal or in their rooms. Suddenly, saloons began outfitting their buildings with bedrooms and applying for a hotel license.
By definition, a speakeasy is an establishment that illegally sells alcoholic drinks. They became notable in the United States during Prohibition, which was from 1920 to about 1933 and even longer in some states. If you know where to look, there are still a handful of speakeasies from a bygone era where you can still snag a seat on a gorgeously aged leather Chesterfield sofa. If not, there are plenty of speakeasy-inspired bars that can craft a killer cocktail.
Here are 13 speakeasies on our radar right now.
New York City
One of only two speakeasies from the Prohibition era still in operation in New York City today, The Back Room Bar offers guests who manage to find it (note – it’s through an underground alley entrance) cocktails in a teacup and smooth jazz.
Finger Lakes Region, New York
Unlike the law in 1896, Bar Argos is open to both guests of the Argos Inn and the general public. The bar showcases the craftsmanship of a custom zinc-top bar, 200-year-old handmade bricks and a beeswax finish on the pigmented plaster walls. Masterful bartenders guide patrons through the unique menu featuring both “historic preservation” and “local talent” selections.
Unlike the law in 1896, Bar Argos is open to both guests of the Argos Inn and the general public. . [+] (Photo courtesy of Bar Argos.)
Another speakeasy located in the Finger Lakes Region and overlooking Seneca Lake, the Belhurst Castle (built in the 1800’s) was turned into a speakeasy and gambling casino in 1932, featuring liquor run from Canada through the Finger Lakes canal system. Since we don’t have to worry about Prohibition these days, guests can freely indulge at Belhurst Winery before opting to stay in any of the 14 architecturally unique guest rooms or detached cottages that make up the Chambers in the Castle.
Found within the historic Hotel Belvedere, The Owl Bar's vibe harkens back to a different era which is fitting considering its early days began more than 100 years ago.
This place doesn't open until midnight and live jazz and blues until the wee hours of the morning.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
The Raines Law also doesn’t apply at the Lumber Baron Bar, the hidden speakeasy tucked inside of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in downtown Grand Rapids. Locals and guests are invited to sip on a scotch by the fireplace and celebrate each day.
The Raines Law also doesn’t apply at the Lumber Baron Bar, the hidden speakeasy tucked inside of the . [+] Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in downtown Grand Rapids. (Photo courtesy of Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.)
In addition to a legit speakeasy in the basement, Old Chicago Inn is a 1920’s Prohibition-style bed and breakfast. Important to note - the rooms are on the tiny side if you expect spacious rooms but most people who come to Chicago aren't hanging out in their rooms. The cozy B& B also has a small on-site library featuring books on Chicago's culture and history and staying there grants you access to Room 13, the Inn's speakeasy located below where resident mixologist Ted Carlson serves up classic American cocktails using recipes that date back to the age of jazz and earlier. Not staying overnight? You can apply for membership for a yearly fee to get the password.
Located in Dupont Circle, look for 2009 (its address) and that's all you'll find in terms of signage. Reservations highly recommended.
You'll need a password to get into Bourbon & Branch (spoiler alert: the password is "books"). But the true treat is Wilson Detective Agency, the secret speakeasy located within Bourbon & Branch. Best to make reservations to secure a spot. The place also home to Beverage Academy, hands-on cocktail classes offered throughout the year.
Cocktail attire is encouraged at this Cuban-themed Los Angeles haunt known for its rum.
Vestry (no website as of this writing)
Speaking of members-only, about-to-open either later this month or early September, Vestry in Los Angeles will offer whiskey enthusiasts access to 198 rare and high-end North American whiskeys, representing 22 states and Canada, with bottles dating back to 1906 and over 40 that no longer exist. Specialty labels include the full, original Black Maple Hill program with small batch 11-, 14-, 16-, 18-, and 23-year Bonded Beam 1943 and Old Taylor 1968. Whiskey aficionados can purchase a $1,000 annual membership to gain access to the 40-person lounge, where Owner Derek Schreck and Managing Partner Jordan Delp will personally walk them through the history and tastings notes behind each and every spirit in their vast collection. Vestry is located inside Tom Bergin’s Public House and members can enter through a nondescript door with a speakeasy peephole.
Speakeasy-inspired bar serves Prohibition-era cocktails and houses an international selection of gin in the basement boiler room of a former hotel.
Needle and Thread (no website)
Write down the phone number of this speakeasy as it's the only way to gain entry. Unlike most speakeasies located in the basement, this one is above Tavern Law.
Whether the bars are speakeasy-inspired or date back to Prohibition days, the appeal of enjoying a cocktail or glass of whiskey at the end of a long day with friends in a cozy and relatively hidden locale is undeniable. And while it’s hotter than hell right now in most parts of the country, the temperature will dip soon enough and we’re going to want to hole up with a nice Hot Toddy.
Do you have a favorite speakeasy in your city or one you visit while traveling? Share yours so we can make sure to check it out.