Though prohibition has been over for quite some time now (thank God!), there’s still something so glamorous and intriguing about discreetly drinking at a dimly lit bar, also known as a speakeasy.
Really, there’s something exciting about doing anything in secret, and D.C. has a few bars that will allow you to feel like you’re right in the middle of the 1920s. Here are seven favorite speakeasies.Where
: 2009 14th Street NW | Washington, D.C., 20009 The Gibson isn’t marked by anything visible, so the only way to get to the bar is to follow the black unmarked door. You’ll love the intimate setting, complete with limited seating and dark lighting. The Gibson staffs skilled mixologists as bartenders, and features an extensive craft cocktail list with names such as “Not Without Immigrants or Women,” and “The Scottish Monk.” It’s a great place to get drinks, but note that they have a two-hour table limit, so you won’t be able to sit around all night. If you have a big party (six or more people), call ahead of time to make sure they have space for you. For the full menu, you can visit the website here
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829 Upshur Street NW | Washington, D.C., 20011 The Reading Room is housed within the restaurant, Petworth Citizen, and is a library-themed secret space in the back. It’s a multi-functional space, used both as a bar and for private events. When it’s open to the public, usually weekend nights, “Reading Room bartender Chantal Tseng creates a limited-edition menu based on an author or theme for her popular Literary Cocktails series.” How cool is that?! If you’ve ever wished you could drink with or in the world of your favorite authors, this is as close as it's going to get. [gallery ids="5585,5586"]
1345 S St NW | Washington, D.C., 20009 Left Door may be the most secret bar of them all. It’s relatively new, having only opened a little more than a year ago, and specializes in unique craft cocktails with unlikely ingredients. The bar also offers snacks and small plates to keep you grounded while you sip on your libations. The space is reminiscent of a 1920s parlor, and the only way in is through the black left door of a converted row house. Left Door doesn’t have a website as of yet, so to add to its allure, you’ll just have to go there (like in olden times) to know what you want to order. [gallery ids="5588,5587"]
Dram and GrainWhere:
2007 18 St NW | Washington, D.C., 20009 The thing to know about Dram and Grain is that it’s pretty exclusive. You can eat and drink here, but you’ll need a reservation to get in, and it’s only open to the public on Saturday nights. It’s located in the basement of Jack Rose Dining Saloon, and only 60 people are allowed in at a time (hence the reservations). The up-front work is worth the effort though because the two mixologists that run Dram and Grain have created a menu of 15 cocktails, rotating every few months, that include interesting ingredients such as egg whites and whole-leaf hops. And because it’s such a small space, you can ask the bartender all your burning questions about alcohol, making drinks, and being a bartender, and they’ll actually be able to respond. Dram and Grain doesn’t have a website either, but you can visit the Jack Rose Dining Saloon
website for some basic information. [gallery ids="5589,5590"]Where:
1738 14th St NW |Washington, D.C. 20009 From the street, Chicken and Whiskey appears to be a fast-casual chicken joint, but if you know where to go when you step inside, it’s so much more than that. In the back of the space you’ll find a large freezer door, and behind that door is a whiskey bar. Truly a genius idea! Get some authentic Peruvian chicken, the cuisine of the restaurant, and wash it down with a stiff drink. You can find the food menu here
, and the whiskey menu here
. It’s the perfect place to surprise your date, or your friend, or whoever's with you on your vast knowledge of the D.C. food and drink scene. [gallery ids="5592,5591"]Where:
1075 Thomas Jefferson St NW | Washington, D.C., 20007 The Graham Hotel is worth a visit just for the beautiful architecture, the décor, the luxurious rooms, and the stunning views from the rooftop, but if you’re into speakeasies, the basement bar is a must. The Alex, and The Graham are named after Alexander Graham Bell and pay homage to his work. To keep up with the historical theme, the bar features Victorian furniture, beautiful empire couches in rich silvers and purples, a fireplace, and dark lighting. Despite its grandeur, the space is cozy. To get down to The Alex, you have to ask for a passcode from the front desk, and then enter it into a door on the side of the lobby. Then you follow the steps to the basement, and at the bottom is the entrance to the bar. Drinks are classic craft cocktails and a selection of wines. Starting this month, The Alex will start hosting live jazz nights, so you can really feel the speakeasy vibe. To learn more, you can visit the website here
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212 7th St SE | Washington, D.C., 20003 Harold Black is another bar where you really have to know it’s there to enter. Once you get inside, you walk through a secret sliding wall to get to the inside. The bar’s décor is nostalgic of the 1920s with dim lighting and cozy booths. Cocktails have such names as “Mule It Over” and “Penicillin.” Harold Black also serves light food, so you can nibble on charcuterie with your scotch. You can only fit 30 people into the bar at once, so it’s in your best to make a reservation. The full cocktail list can be found here
. [gallery ids="5597,5596"] So, there you have it. What speakeasies have you frequented in Washington, D.C.? Let us know in the comments below!