Everybody likes a little bit of exclusiveness. Something somewhere in the cut and away from the crowds. Something not everyone knows about—like a speakeasy.
Although modern speakeasies today are different from the bars years ago, one thing that remains the same is their uniqueness.
Speakeasies popped up during the prohibition. On Jan. 17th, 1920, alcohol became illegal and remained that way for 13 years, causing bars to close and the loss of income for many. But where there was a will, there was a way, and along came speakeasies. These illegal-secret bars were only heard about through word of mouth and disguised as other forms of business.
To get inside, you had to know the code—a specific knock, password, or greeting. A custom that some speakeasies still use to keep the uniqueness going. And although alcohol is now legal, the culture and standout aesthetic of speakeasies have also remained.
From New York to Milan, here is a list of some cool, somewhat “hidden gems” that have appealing retro vibes and signature prohibition-era cocktail drinks.
New York— Please Don’t Tell
If you want to enjoy a savory bite with a craft cocktail in New York City, “Please Don’t Tell,” aka PDT is a good place. The secret bar sits behind a phone booth in the East Village. Visitors can enter the bar through the hot dog shop, Crif Dogs, on St. Marks Street. Just use the phone that’ll buzz to get you inside.
It’s both stylish and low-key.
Atlanta— The Love Below
If you like poetry, live music, art, and a sensual vibe, Atlanta’s “The Love Below” may suit you. Proclaimed as Atlanta’s most unique speakeasy, guests can visit The Love Below to watch unique shows that range from comedy to burlesque, poetry, open mics, and special couple events. The bar has a great selection of drinks and has some of the best food trucks parked outside. But this one is a little more exclusive because guests have to be invited to attend.
Milan, Italy— BackDoor 43
Backdoor 43 claims to be the smallest bar in the world. That claim is highly likely, considering it’s a mere 13 square feet bar that can hold only four patrons at a time.
Don’t let the size fool you. The place has a distinct personality. Guests have to know the secret password to make a reservation. But it’s worth it because booked guests can fill out a form of preferred alcohol, flavors, and styles of drinks before arriving and can choose their glassware and music. And if the place is too “packed,” sometimes there’s a bartender in a mask that serves to-go drinks through a small opening on the door.
Miami — Club NDA at the Mad Butcher
If you’re in Miami, there’s a hidden treasure tucked inside Wynwood’s sandwich shop, Mad Butcher. Said to be behind a meat locker is Club NDA, a dimly-lit upscale lounge that offers secret drinks inspired by the same ones made during the prohibition era. The low-key bar is stylish with its velvet walls and plush seating. You can eat good and dance the night away.
Los Angeles — No Vacancy
The name of this speakeasy in LA is very fitting. It’s a hidden bar tucked away. Guest should check in to the old Hollywood hotel (Old Jupiter) and ask for room 1902. A door opens to a secret entrance to the underground bar. Once inside, you’ll be greeted by tightrope walkers, fire-breathing dancers, live music, and cigars. Earlier arrival is suggested if you’re not on the least. I mean, this is Hollywood, what do you expect?
Singapore — 28 Hong Kong Street
A winner among speakeasies, 28 Hong Kong Street has won many awards for its mix of ambiance, creative drinks, and good food, and it probably lost a bit of its mystery after it made the 50 Best Bars in the World list. The outside of the bar looks like a rundown shop from the 60s, and because it has no signage, many wouldn’t believe there’s a bar inside. But once guests enter through the curtains, it’s a whole different world inside. Patrons can enjoy interesting drinks, like “Whore’s Bath.”