Speakeasis have long had a mysterious appeal to those who want to live on the edge. Even if you only want to test the limits of your comfort zone overnight, a sweatshop promises thrills. After all, they started out as liquor stores or illicit clubs during Prohibition. Party-goers were told to “speak quietly” or be quiet about their location, and the whole place was operating under cover of secrecy.
There is no need to be too secretive these days, however. Modern day underground bars are often hidden away in a fun and clever way, and they are exclusive and special places to soak up or just hang out. These 10 underground bars are sure to impress with their decor, their atmosphere and their “wow” effect.
Photo courtesy of the Lupercalia Art Society
Lupercalia Art Society – Mobile, Alabama
Art lovers will be amazed by this art gallery / speakeasy. Located in a historic 1853 building in the heart of downtown Mobile, Alabama, the Lupercalia Art Society showcases the diverse art of more than 75 regional artists. You will sometimes find the work of renowned artists alongside the art of talented newcomers.
The underground bar has a decor and ambiance that mimics the roaring twenties. It’s no wonder that going there always feels like a party.
Photo courtesy of Bathtub Gin
Bathtub Gin – New York, New York
Located in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, Bathtub Gin is hidden behind a nondescript door at the back of the Stone Street Coffee Company. Customers who come for coffee are usually unaware that there is a bar on site. Bathtub Gin celebrates the Prohibition era when underground bars thrived, and even its name is a nod to the homemade gin that people often made in their tubs when they weren’t allowed to make and sell. legally alcoholic in the 1920s.
Bathtub Gin offers antique copper tubs as a tribute to illicit alcohol. Plus, luxurious damask fabrics and vintage decor help give the Underground Bar its majestic elegance.
Photo courtesy of Maxwell Mansion
Le Speakeasy at Maxwell Mansion – Lac Léman, Wisconsin
You will find a superb underground bar in the basement of Maxwell Mansion, a historic hotel on Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. To get the password to this hidden bar, book your stay or keep an eye on the Maxwell Mansion Facebook page for clues.
This underground sweatshop is designed to take guests to another place and time. The mansion itself dates from 1856 and the lively basement bar is welcoming with nooks and crannies for secret conversations.
Hyatt Centric Las Olas Fort Lauderdale recently opened Nine01, a former guesthouse that has been turned into a secret bar for reservations. With its theme of Prohibition in the Roaring Twenties, it’s a lot of fun. There you will find a record player, antiques and shelves full of vintage titles.
Nine01’s Bartender-in-Residence program brings in bartenders from across the country who have struggled during the pandemic. They get paid for their services while enjoying the benefits of a Florida beach vacation. It also means that no two underground bar experiences are the same, as different bartenders come and go.
Photo courtesy of Shannon Partrick
Noble Experiment – San Diego, California
Hidden behind a wall of kegs inside Neighborhood, the restaurant of CH Projects in San Diego, the Noble Experiment is a large underground bar. The mood is first set as guests enter through a mirrored lobby into the Secret Space, and guests are then ready to enjoy one of San Diego’s most unique cocktails.
Classical art hangs from the ceiling of the Noble Experiment, and don’t miss the wall of golden skulls. The dimly lit underground bar can only seat 35 people and does not have a regular menu. Instead, guests decide on the evening’s drink selections during this personalized experience.
Photo courtesy of The Shag Room
The Shag Room – Las Vegas, Nevada
Accessible through the entrance of an underground photo booth, the Shag Room is located in the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, Curio Collection by Hilton. This is the perfect underground bar for Las Vegas as there is nothing subtle here in the majestic backdrop. In fact, it pays homage to the famous Studio 54, the New York nightclub that was the pinnacle of partying at its peak in the 1970s.
As the name suggests, there is a boldly designed shag rug in the space that sits right next to the Las Vegas Strip. The Shag Room also has velvet curtains that help guests feel a greater sense of privacy, and the living room’s red and purple color scheme sets the stage for a daring experience.
Photo courtesy of The Ohio Club
Ohio Club – Hot Springs, Arkansas
Hot Springs is a city with a fascinating history, and so is the Ohio Club, a beloved local underground bar. Originally opened in 1905, the Ohio Club operated full time during Prohibition, keeping a storefront called the Ohio Cigar Store to hide its once dubious activities such as gambling and consumption.
Nowadays, the Ohio Club is a lively bar that’s 21+ years old. Live music is often a part of the joy here, and the Underground Bar serves a variety of fun drinks and cocktails. The Ohio Club is considered the oldest bar in Arkansas that is open 24 hours a day.
Photo courtesy of Apothecary 330
Apothecary 330 – Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Apothecary 330 is a bustling underground bar behind Pizza Craft, a beloved pizzeria in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He proudly serves healing essences, spirits and tonics. The entrance to the bar is under an illuminated neon sign that simply says “Cocktails”.
Seasonal drink menus keep things fresh and fun throughout the year, and Apothecary 330 is a romantic spot for a date. The lush cabins are comfortable, and this cheerful underground bar accepts reservations, so you can plan to celebrate special occasions without having to worry about waiting for a table.
Photo courtesy of Peter Kern Library
Peter Kern Library – Knoxville, Tennessee
As Knoxville’s first underground bar focused on craft cocktails and whiskeys, the Peter Kern Library is hidden inside the Oliver Hotel. Guests enter through the alley next to the hotel. Just look for the red light and prepare your code. To find it, search for the latest Instagram post from the Peter Kern Library.
Once you enter, get ready to relax as table service is offered in the small speakeasy which only has a capacity of 45 people. You’ll notice great attention to detail at the Peter Kern Library (menus are hidden in older encyclopedias). Moreover, in keeping with the theme of the library, the drinks themselves are named after literary figures.
Photo courtesy of The Office at the Aviary
The Aviary Office – Chicago, Illinois
The Office is an alluring underground bar that sits just below The Aviary in Chicago, Illinois. People usually find it because they hear about it from a friend or a friend of a friend.
The sweatshop offers patrons the chance to enjoy old spirits and experiences they likely won’t find elsewhere in town. If a guest requests the Dealer’s Choice, the bartender will surprise them with something special based on the guest’s favorite spirits and flavors.