The days of Prohibition are pretty far behind us. But there’s still something fun about a secret bar. In California’s major cities you can find a wide array of speakeasies that bring some of the nostalgia of the past to within the walls of modern bars. Discover hidden gems and lesser known places, and sometimes, make sure you know the password, at these 9 great speakeasies in California.
If you head to Prohibition on a weekend, be sure to follow the dress code and skip the flip-flops. Just find the door marked Law Office and head into a 1920s hot spot, complete with cocktails and live music in an art deco style setting. No reservations required—just show up.
Noble Experiment requires a reservation to get into the trendy spot. Send an email and wait for a response offering all the details of enjoying a unique experience in a small space.
Pie Society has a vast selection of hard liquors, wine, beer, cocktails and more, perfect for drinking with a crowd that has very disparate tastes. You can also snag a small bite to eat with your choice of libation in the bar hidden inside a pizza place.
The Blind Rabbit is small, so head over with a close group of friends instead of a large party to enjoy a night out. Rumor has it that drinks often come with flames and fireworks, making the spot perfect for entertainment with your cocktail and bite. Make a reservation to enjoy at night, or head over for a weekend of day drinking without prior notice.
The Varnish is a hidden bar tucked into Cole’s in downtown LA, one of the spots that claims to be the originator of the French dip sandwich. The award-winning bar combines a lot of cocktail experience to create delicious drinks. Grab a sandwich at Cole’s if you’re hungry, but don’t make a full meal. Check out the rules before you go and no need for a reservation.
Alley really is in an alley—just behind Culver City’s FIN Asian Tapas Bar. No sign, but velvet ropes guide visitors into a speakeasy styled bar with a generous menu of food and cocktails and the availability to rent out the space for parties and events.
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Holy Mountain is kind of a well-known San Francisco speakeasy, drawing inspiration from a 1970s film and providing an intimate getaway in the midst of a big city. You’ll find a menu filled with caricatures of ruthless leaders and small snacks to go with them. There are also opportunities to do good with your choice of drink.
Dalva’s backroom is a small hideout with a drinks menu and a 1970s basement vibe. Head over for a casual night or check the schedule for special events like live music or karaoke and other things to do while you indulge.
The Devil’s Acre is a fun bar in San Francisco, but for something a little more intimate and off the wall head to the Remedie Room, an old-timey medicine meets alcohol spot that crafts medicinally themed cocktails. You can also throw a party in the spot and have the bartender all to yourself.