Why party with the masses when you can steal away with others in-the-know at an underground speakeasy, or find yourself a key to the best secret bar in the city? We know them all, but luckily for you, we’re not very good at keeping secrets; here is a BarChick rundown of the best places for speakeasy-style drinking around the world:
001, Hong Kong
Near impossible to find behind the city’s wet market stalls, the unmarked black door which leads you down to this cosy little den of iniquity can only be found by those in the know. Leather and wood interiors make it dark and dingy, but with a hint of luxury. Drinks are expertly made and pack a hell of a punch. If you want a covert meeting place, this is most certainly it.
Make your way through a pub, around a corner (look out for a small sign on the ceiling), up some stairs and bust in on London’s answer to New Orleans. Music and whisky are what that blessed city is known for, and NOLA has got both in full swing. Antique trombones hang from the walls and if you’re lucky enough to slope by on a Thursday or Friday, you can kick back to some live jazz and blues.
Death and Company, NYC
Here you can sip creative twists on Prohibition cocktails – such as an old fashioned made with tequila and mescal – which are stirred fifty times while you sit at black granite tables under crystal chandeliers and gold flecked walls. Look for the unmarked brown door and the long line leading up to it. Explore New York City >
This underground speakeasy in Brighton does things a little differently. Book ahead and remember to bring a bottle of your favourite spirit – or whatever you could get your hands on at the off licence – then hand it over to the mixologist. Using ingredients from their antique drinks trolley, they’ll mix some damn fine cocktails right at your table. More quirky Brighton venues >
Door 74, Amsterdam
You could walk past Door 74 every day and have no idea that there is a bar in here; this place is the definition of hidden, focused on class, cocktails and character. If you’re planning on finding your way in on the weekend you’ll need to book ahead. Discover Amsterdam >
Hidden down a dark staircase on a quiet Edinburgh backstreet, Bramble may take a bit of loitering to find, but once you’re in it’s worth it. The drinks, mixed using homemade ingredients, show flashes of genius. With cool bartenders and a crowd after fun vibes, this is one boozer you won’t want to leave – not just for fear of never finding it again. More of the best pubs in Edinburgh >
The Union & The Bureau, Copenhagen
Disguised as a townhouse on a residential street, this place has two great bars in one. First off you have to find classic speakeasy The Union – look for the big black door at no.16 – with its dim lighting and bare-brick walls. After you’re settled in and feeling confident, try to get invited to the exclusive Bureau upstairs; it’s the place to be for faultless cocktails and great company.
Little Red Door, Paris
The clue is in the title with this one. Hidden behind a little red door (oh and you’ll need to figure out how to get the key to get in) is one of Paris’s hottest little bars. Art instillations adorn the walls, there are beaten up armchairs to sink into and a killer booze selection to get whet your liquid-appetite. The bartenders are some of the best in the city so always go with their recommendations.
Little Branch, NYC
If it weren’t for the line of people outside you’d never stumble upon this little gem. Creep in behind an unmarked door in New York‘s West Village and descend down rickety stairs to discover a jazz-filled den where bartenders chip away at giant blocks of ice, creating absinthe cocktails that will knock your socks off. Go on an historic bar crawl in NYC >
El Bandito, Liverpool
From the street it looks like any old staircase, but ask the bouncers at Santo Chupitos and they’ll be able to nudge you in the right direction. This tiny bar is no bigger than your bedroom and is known for its killer tequila collection, along with the latest licence in the city (the drinks flow until 5am at weekends). You can be guaranteed it’s where the party is at most nights of the week too. More on Liverpool >
Bourbon & Branch, San Francisco
Prohibition lives on in this speakeasy so put your phone away (it’s a house rule), dress the part and order some of the best drinks in California. The fun doesn’t stop once you’ve found your way into this mysterious place though; there are three other secret bars hidden within Bourbon & Branch waiting to be found. Let the games begin! Explore San Francisco >
Bar Mutis, Barcelona
This speakeasy feels more like a private flat party than a cocktail bar, being hidden in an apartment block and all. Make sure you ring ahead if you want to party with the cool kids, and bring your credit card – it’s definitely not cheap but boy is it worth it. Discover more of Barcelona >
To the untrained eye it’s easy to think this tiny taco joint has nothing more to offer than Mexican food and hibiscus water, but you’d be oh-so-wrong. It sure isn’t a storage cupboard behind that little door: take a peek through and you’ll find yourself in a sexy candlelit cave. Explore Paris >
Evans and Peel, London
Only once you’ve passed the detective’s rigorous questioning about your “case” might you be allowed to enter through the secret bookcase that leads to this quirky watering hole. The atmosphere is buzzing and the Prohibition-style classic cocktails are mixed up by real pros. Channel your inner Sherlock, get your case together and get into the role-play at Evans and Peel.
BarChick.com is a guide to the best bars in the world. Follow them on Twitter at @HotBarChick. You can book hostels for your trip with Rough Guides, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.