In 1933, the prohibition on serving and selling alcohol was lifted in the US, making the underground bars, the speakeasies obsolete. In recent years, speakeasies have seen a resurgence of interest. The top ten speakeasies in the US feature some amazing themed décor, killer drinks, and of course, require a bit of work to get into. Most of these bars have a password of the night—some will give it over the phone, some will not.
1. PDT, New York City
PDT (please don’t tell) is a low-ceilinged bar, tucked away in the East Village. To get in, step into the phone booth out front and dial one. Wait for your call to be answered and step inside to a brick and wood bar, with illuminated countertops, and taxidermied animals. You’ll need to call ahead to make sure they have space for you—PDT is in high demand and does not open until 3 AM. Their cocktail list is curated perfectly and features unexpected flavors like an Old Fashioned made with bacon-infused bourbon.
2. Williams & Graham, Denver
Williams & Graham is set behind a bookshop—you’ll have to lift the book “Savoy” to enter. The actual bar looks more like a gentleman’s study with books and sturdy liquors. The staff offers a personalized touch, making sure to get your drinks just right.
3. Angel’s Share, New York City
Angel’s Share is just behind an unmarked door of a yakitori restaurant in Yokocho Village and is one of the most exclusive bars in the city. Only groups of four or fewer are permitted inside, with a strict no-standing guests policy. The strong Japanese cocktails pair beautifully with simple snacks of fried oysters and sashimi. For whiskey lovers, Stormy Weather is the drink to try with cinnamon infused whiskey, fresh lime and ginger, ginger wine, and ginger ale.
4. Midnight Cowboy, Austin
Located on 6th street, you’ll need to make reservations first, and look for signs that read “Modeling” and “Oriental Massage” before buzzing up and asking for “Harry Craddock.” The former brothel is now one of Austin’s cleanest and highest rated bars. Reservations can only be made for a two-hour window. The cocktail menu changes, always with fresh, local ingredients, and creative concepts.
5. Nobel Experiment, San Diego
You’ll have to text a week in advance to get a reservation and when you get there, open a wall of what looks like kegs to enter. This bar is half cocktail lounge half mad scientist’s lab with custom drinks being their specialty. Their bartenders whip amazing cocktails every time—let them know your preferred booze and flavors and they’ll create your perfect beverage.
6. Circa33, Portland, Oregon
This mafia themed bar is accessed using the “mafia” book on a bookshelf outside of the main bar. Circa 33 has a full dinner menu as well as classic prohibition era drinks. They have a pool table, darts, and sometimes feature live music.
7. Le Descarga, Los Angeles
There is a sign outside of the bar, but you’ll still need to crawl past a rack of clothes in a wardrobe to go inside. With live jazz, amazing rum, and accompanying cigars, Le Descarga is a quick trip to Havana inside LA’s Koreatown.
8. Room 13, Chicago
For a real prohibition era feel, Room 13, only serves alcohol that was available at the time and a strict dress code is enforced. Room 13 is located inside Old Chicago Inn and is only open to guests of the hotel, members of the club, and guests of either. You’ll need to find the red-lit gate in the alley with “RM-13” on it and tell the doorman the password of the night.
9. Wilson & Wilson Private Detective Agency, San Francisco
To get into W&W, you have to go through another speakeasy first, Bourbon and Branch and know the passwords for both. There is a bell to ring and you will need to be verified and then you can step into W&W. This exclusive bar, features a film noir theme, spice-infused cocktails, and delicious menu.
10. The Varnish, Los Angeles
Enter through Cole’s sandwich shop and find the door marked with a sketch of a cocktail. Inside you’ll find Old Hollywood glam, handcrafted drinks, chipped ice, and mustachioed staff.