The draw to something like a speakeasy is the air of mystery that surrounds the term. Back in the Prohibition days, a speakeasy was a hidden bar that enabled night hitters to enjoy a drink or two without the worry of being arrested. Nowadays, however, a speakeasy can be found in just about any city. Well—if you know where to find them.
While some bars who give themselves the label are just dim open-door establishments, there are actually some tucked away bars that you can only get into by knowing its secret entrance or by being privy to a code word. These obscure techniques are a sure-fire way to get travelers to take a peek into their establishment-- with the promise of discretion. Haven’t found any of these hot spots on your own? Check out the 10 super-secret American speakeasies, ranked.
10 Floppy Disk Repair Co.
Location: Austin, Texas
Staying true to the theme, this bar acts under the guise of a floppy disk repair shop. If you want to know more about their “services” you can find them on their website. The one-page brochure says they do repairs by telephone appointment only. Followed by a cheeky, “Sorry, we do not have a telephone number.”
Instead, wanderers can try out their brick-and-mortar; an industrial warehouse in Downtown Austin, Texas. You’ll see their sign right out front, but you can only get in if you know the password. Next to the door is a key code which changes on a weekly basis. Social media detective work is usually the only solution to this problem. Once you enter the code, you’ll find yourself in the Red Headed Stepchild; a glamorous 90s-themed bar laden with unique themed cocktails.
9 Employees Only
Location: New York City
Opening in 2004 at the heart of West Village, Employees Only serves as an upper-class style bar and restaurant. Its golden hues shine down upon a glossy bar top, with unique decor like overhead luggage giving it that enigmatic vibe.
It’s not the best-kept secret, but still, it can be difficult to find if you don’t look carefully around the fortune teller’s lair. Employees Only is an exclusive bar that is ranked off the charts by numerous publications for its cocktails and American fare.
8 La Descarga
Location: Los Angeles
A Cuban-style bar in Los Angeles can only be made formidable by calling it a speakeasy. This is yet another hidden-door establishment that can only be found by making a reservation on their nondescript website.
Then you’ll want to take a stroll down Western Ave in Koreatown until you get to an office door. There, the host will redirect you to a closet. And voila— you’ve stepped foot into a 1950’s Havana bar.
7 The Office
The Office is located within The Aviary, a posh restaurant in the West Loop of Chicago. The Office is a strict invite-only speakeasy that serves classic drinks and an intimate atmosphere.
The den is backed by the world-famous chef, Grant Achatz, so the drinks must live up to their potential. Keep in mind, there are only 14 seats within the entire speakeasy, so try to make reservations ahead of time if you can.
6 Melinda’s Alley
Malinda Curtis lived in the red light district of downtown Phoenix in the 1880s. She was a beautiful lady of the night whose choice of drink was gin. She stayed at the Adam’s Hotel, which was later renamed to the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel after it lit up in flames in 1910.
This history is what you’ll come to find if you happen upon Melinda’s Alley in Phoenix, Arizona. The bar, named after Malinda Curtis, is nestled in the basement of the former Adam’s Hotel. The basement’s concrete walls were largely unaffected by the 1910 fire so that 1800s appeal is still soaked into its foundation. It now acts as a glorious speakeasy, which can be found behind the 70-foot mural of Malinda Curtis in an alley behind the downtown hotel. You’ll know if the speakeasy is open if the red light above her painting is glowing bright.
5 The Mata Hari
Not just anyone can enter this speakeasy. The only way to get into The Mata Hari in Savannah, Georgia is with a key. If you meet a local who has one-- great! If not, the only way to get in is by asking around for the secret password. Then you will have to find an unmarked, dimly lit night club. Knock on the door and someone will slide open the window. They’ll ask for a key or the password. Then you’re in.
Once across the threshold, you will find yourself in an eloquent men's club-themed bar. There are burlesque singers some nights and plenty of absinthe for the boozehounds.
Location: Albuquerque, NM
If you want to experience the finer things, like rare whiskeys and clandestine libations, Braise in Albuquerque New Mexico is the place to be. This speakeasy is another members-only that is strict on its no social media rules.
It relies heavily on its cloak and dagger persona and is so guarded,that the entrance involves a thumbprint reader. The door is disguised and always locked from the outside. Employees get to decide who goes in, so be sure to be on your best behavior.
3 3.The Patterson House
The Patterson House’s website won’t give you much in the way of clues on how to enter the 1920s themed bar. With the help of locals, you’ll be able to find its coveted entrance, but be aware of the rules. Social media antics are not welcomed, and if you’re a gentleman who wants to introduce yourself to a lovely lady bar patron, stop right there. Men can only approach women here on an invite-only basis.
The Patterson House is named after the Tennessee governor Malcolm Patterson. Patterson fought against Prohibition, and so, the house serves as praise for his actions.
Location: Murray, UT
The antique store, Prohibition, in Murray, Utah has more to it than meets the eye. The store has a pharmacy, where you can ask for a prescription for your ailments.
Once you receive one, you will be directed towards the back where you can find all the vodka, gin, or whiskey to help aid your comfort. This speakeasy plays the game, and they play it well.
1 The Pharmacy
You wouldn’t think that a heavy tourist spot like Orlando, Florida would have any secrets in its crowded streets. Fortunately for those looking to get away from the bustling crowd, this speakeasy offers a close solace.
At the heart of the theme park capital is The Pharmacy. While you don’t need a prescription to get in, there is a trick to finding the right door. The entrance is located inside a shopping plaza. Beneath an archway, there is an elevator to the right and to the left. You’ll want to pick the one with an old-time gauge above the doors. Push the green button, and you will be elevated to the secret speakeasy location.