Hotel ZoeBlind pig, blind tiger, speakeasy – there are many names for the highly secretive underground drinking establishments that cropped up during prohibition. Like the modern day “be cool,” the term “speakeasy” comes from the need to remain inauspicious when speaking about the pursuit of illicit pastimes so as not to raise suspicion; hence, the directive to “speak easy.”
Thanks to the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1933, modern-day speakeasies don’t have to evade arrest and prosecution. Still, the allure of private drinking lounges, often hidden in back alleys or behind fake doors in nondescript storefronts or restaurants, remain strong even now. For many patrons, it’s the thrill of the hunt – finding out about a speakeasy by word of mouth, tracking down the location, and gaining entry by way of maybe a password or token – that makes enjoying a drink within all the more fulfilling. We’ve rounded up seven of the best modern day speakeasies rooted to Noble House destinations to pique your curiosity on your next trip.
Noble Experiment [San Diego, CA]
Neighborhood is a gastropub with a focus on craft beers that isn’t hard to find. But Noble Experiment, the cocktails-only speakeasy within the same establishment is a different story. If you can get a reservation (and that’s a big if), head down to the ’Hood, make your way to the back of the pub by the bathrooms, and give the wall of kegs a push – seriously. The hidden door will reveal a swanky modern day speakeasy decked out in rich wood paneled walls, glass chandeliers, luxe tufted banquette seating, and, naturally, a wall of gleaming golden skulls. If the drink menu is overwhelming, ask for the dealer’s choice and let the talented bartenders craft a custom cocktail to your liking.
Bourbon & Branch is like the Russian nesting doll of hidden bars. Once the worthy obtains the password to gain entry to the main bar, four other secret standalone bars await through a series of bookcases and walls that give way to hidden doors, including the 28-seat Wilson & Wilson Detective Agency. Gone is the noise and hubris of the larger speakeasy; inside, you’ll find refined decor, efficient and talented bartenders, and a no-nonsense approach. After you make your way through the three drink courses, you’ll be thanked…and promptly kicked out. Enjoy it while it lasts, but consider yourself warned: The drinks pack the same punch of a Prohibition sip of moonshine.
Apothecary 330 [Fort Lauderdale, FL]
A side door within a pizzeria isn’t the usual entrance to a high-end bar serving more than 300 types of whiskey, but there’s very little that’s typical about Apothecary 330. The upscale bar features crystal chandeliers, tufted red leather booths, a menu of craft cocktails whipped up by the resident “bar chefs,” and a scant online footprint. And that’s just how Jey Hospitality, owners of the secretive lounge, like it.
Lock & Key [Los Angeles, CA]
Even with the address queued up in your GPS, it may take a few passes by this Koreatown establishment to spot its obtuse signage of a solo neon key. Your second challenge awaits you upon entry – you’ll stand facing a wall of doorknobs. Figure out which one opens the hidden door, and you’ll finally be on your way into this 1920s-themed bar full of brass, dark wooden walls, emerald green booths, and craft cocktails with names like Secret Coalition, Shady Schemes, and the Grape Gatsby.
Bathtub Gin & Co. [Seattle, WA]
Hanging out in the basement boiler room of an old apartment building may not be your normal objective for a big night out, but if you’re headed to Bathtub Gin & Co., it’s a perfectly reasonable end goal. Find your way to the Humphrey Apartments in Belltown, and head down the dark alley between 1st and 2nd Avenues and toward the nondescript door that will grant you entry. (You may see a few patrons waiting outside before you see the actual door, to be fair.) Once inside, the warm modern-day speakeasy – with its Prohibition-style menu of literary-inspired craft cocktails – will shake any lingering Seattle rain quickly.
Gentlemen, after buying a new Pendleton jacket, have you ever felt the need for a whiskey on the rocks? If you’ve purchased said jacket from Wool & Whiskey, a men’s mercantile in Teton Village, you are in luck. The mercantile boasts a small wooden four-seat bar hidden behind its racks of rugged outerwear and clothing. But don’t bother to request anything other than whiskey: neat or on the rocks from some 20 different types are your only choices. Although, considering that you could be walking out with just a jacket or a pair of jeans and no drink, we think you’ll be fine with the selection.