Some speakeasies do a better job of hiding themselves than others, but trick walls and unmarked doors can only keep even the most under-the-radar bars clandestine for so long before the hype blows their cover. Regardless, even if a speakeasy’s reservation line is ringing off the hook, it’s still worth a visit for the experience—whether that entails elegant cocktails, great beer or just a really cool way in. If that last one makes or breaks a speakeasy for you, these eight out-of-the-box speakeasies have some of the coolest, most creative entrances around.
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Hot Dog Stand
Please Don’t Tell, New York, NY
Also known as PDT, this hidden watering hole makes patrons walk through a phone booth inside East Village hot dog restaurant Crif Dogs to get inside. Simply pick up the phone and wait for a hostess to slide open the door, but good luck getting in if you don’t have a reservation. They even have hot dogs created by NYC chefs if you need a snack in between cocktails.
Good Times at Davey Wayne’s, Los Angeles, CA
The entrance to this Hollywood bar is no secret, as the line outside the door on Friday and Saturday nights is a dead giveaway. But there’s still something magical about walking through a refrigerator door (inside a room that looks like a garage sale) and into this retro 70s-style bar. There’s a DJ spinning groovy tunes, cocktails with fun names like “Purple Polyester” and a big backyard that houses a bbq-slinging airstream trailer.
Bar Nayuta, Osaka, JP
You have to dip down low to enter Hiro Nakayama’s bona fide Osaka speakeasy—that is, if you can find it. Japan’s unnamed streets make this gem even more difficult to locate as you wander the four corners of an intersection searching for the symbol that marks the entrance. Once you find it, ride the elevator to the fifth floor and step through the tiny hallway door (watch your noggin). Nakayama never makes the same drink twice, so the hunt is totally worth the reward.
Williams & Graham, Denver, CO
Bookworms and fans of whimsical Harry Potter-like settings will love the entrance to this Denver bar. Stroll into the Williams & Graham bookstore, give the staff your name, and wait for a bookcase to swing open, revealing the watering hole inside. You’ll likely have to wait a couple hours to get in, so plan accordingly in advance of your ideal drinking time.
Wall of Kegs
Noble Experiment, San Diego, CA
Mosey over to the pile of kegs in the back of San Diego restaurant Neighborhood, and you’ll quickly discover that the empty vessels aren’t simply discarded relics from a party gone by. A simple push on the wall of kegs reveals the speakeasy Noble Experiment, where you can imbibe some of the best cocktails the city has to offer. The bar takes reservations but leaves some space open each night for walk-ins if you’re feeling spontaneous.
Sunshine Laundromat & Pinball, Brooklyn, NY
Doing laundry is a chore, unless you can sip an ice cold brew while you wait for your clothes to dry. Sunshine is a fully functional laundromat in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, but the real fun lies at the back of the room behind a door disguised as two stacked washing machines. Inside, you’ll find rows of pinball machines and plenty of beer—both on draft and in bottles and cans. They also serve wine and Roberta’s pizza if you start feeling peckish.
Garage, Austin, TX
Explore the parking garage on the corner of Sixth and Colorado in downtown Austin, and look for the old valet ticketing office. Tucked inside is Garage, one of the city’s coolest speakeasies that serves expertly-made drinks, gets funky with Japanese-inspired plates and spins vinyl for your listening pleasure. Order your favorite classic cocktail or try something original like the Suze Sour—made with suze, orgeat, lemon, rye, egg white and decanter bitters.
Looking Glass Cocktail Club, London, UK
If an Alice in Wonderland dominatrix theme is up your alley, then a trip to London’s Looking Glass Cocktail Club is in order. Walk through the giant mirror and find yourself in a candlelit speakeasy, complete with live DJs spinning soulful house music on the weekends. If anything, go for the Royale With Chee’—which the menu describes as “cheeseburger in a glass”— an interesting combo of mature-cheddar-fat-washed white rum, Ancho Reyes Chile liqueur, egg white, lemon, and a dry sage and mushroom ketchup reduction.