Shhh! Try to keep these amazing Washington, D.C., speakeasies a secret.
After the Prohibition Era, speakeasies became a thing of the past—or did they? Washington, D.C., has taken the secretive, intimate, and highly enticing era of forbidden love and brought it back to life. Next time you’re looking for a classy night out, head to one of these hidden speakeasies and be teleported right back to the roaring '20s. Keep it on the D/L though—they’re called speakeasies for a reason.
Allegory | 1201 K Street NW
Courtesy of Allegory
Deep inside the Eaton Hotel, you’ll find a speakeasy hidden behind a wall of books. Make your way through the library and you’ll fall into a story of your very own. Allegory transports you into your favorite tales as each cocktail on the menu is inspired by a famous book or author. You can immerse yourself in the story while sitting on a leather couch and gazing at the whimsical Alice in Wonderland-themed decorations. Each drink takes you on a different adventure, and you’ll never want to put your book down.
Nocturne | 1932 9th Street NW
Courtesy of Nocturne
Sneak into the Sugar Shack donut shop, and you’ll find something sweeter than dessert. Just take the elevator and you’ll find a cozy French-inspired bar with room for only 20 people. The menu takes you on an intimate journey around the world as you sip on Pacific Rim (sake with hints of seaweed and flavors of the Far East) or the Scandinavia (a drink with savory notes and flavor profiles inspired by nature). At Nocturne, you can see it all in just one night.
The Mirror | 1413 K Street NW
Courtesy of The Mirror
The Mirror is a true speakeasy. Previously called The Speak, the bar was shut down twice for operating illegally. Now, it runs under new management and provides guests an intimate look at what a speakeasy was really like. To find the entrance, you’ll follow a flight of stairs and stand face-to-face with your reflection. Push past the mirror with the “For Rent” sign hanging next to it, and you’ll enter the Prohibition Era. The Mirror dishes out iconic drinks with a hint of class and even hosts happy hour from 5 to 7:30 p.m. If you’re looking for a no-frills, simple spot for some classic drinks, then this is the speakeasy for you.
Denson Liquor Bar | 600 F Street NW
Courtesy of Denson Liquor Bar
Just down the street from the National Mall, the Denson Liquor Bar is tucked behind a discreet frosted glass. Once inside, you’ll find the '20s at its finest. From the geometric flooring to the leather booths, Denson Liquor Bar embodies everything we love about the '20s. They serve up the classics with a unique twist and offer a delicious selection of grilled cheeses. If you’re looking to class up the party, then this is definitely where you want to end your night. Brush up on your '20s speak so you can truly play the part.
The Alex | 1075 Thomas Jefferson Street NW
Courtesy of The Alex
One look at the Alex and you’ll understand why speakeasies were so popular in the '20s. The bar can be found in The Graham, hidden behind a gray door that looks a lot like a supply closet. However, once you get inside, you’re instantly transported to the Jazz Age. The dim lighting, brick accents, old-timey booths, and delicious drinks would make any bootlegger proud. The menus are printed like a newspaper and you can even get a gin and tonic served in a tiny bathtub, recreating the iconic way bootleggers concocted their creations in the '20s.
The Gibson | 2009 14th Street NW
Courtesy of the Gibson
2009—that’s the only thing that’s written on the door that whisks you away into the Gibson. Known as a modern take on a traditional speakeasy, The Gibson sits between two nightclubs and offers a stark contrast with its candlelit, intimate bar seating. Their signature drinks match the seasons and are constantly changing. Some of the drinks in January 2020 include Three Popes Walk Into a Bar (Wild Turkey Longbranch bourbon, Cherry Heering, Domaine de Canton, green Chartreuse, aromatic bitters) and Spotted Sphinx (Cobrafire brandy, maraschino, Montenegro amaro, dry vermouth, absinthe, decanter bitters). The spot does get crowded though, so you’ll want to get reservations ahead of time.
Harold Black | 212 7th Street SE
Courtesy of Harold Black
Under the shadow of the Capitol building, Harold Black brings guests modern drinks in a timeless setting. In order to find the bar, you’ll have to slide open an unmarked door and travel through a long hallway. However, the adventure is worth it. You’ll become part of an era that is long gone and indulge in delicious drinks, wonderful company, and great food. If you don’t know what to order, you can always try their cocktail flight!
Chicken + Whiskey | 1738 14th Street NW
Courtesy of Chicken + Whiskey
What goes best with chicken? Why, a little bit of whiskey, of course! Although Chicken + Whiskey may look like an ordinary chicken restaurant, head past the soft drink machine and find a stainless-steel deep freezer door. Literally walk through the refrigerator door and you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for—some refreshing whiskey to go with your delicious South American chicken. Come in on Wednesdays from 5 p.m. until close and you can score BOGO whiskey cocktails.
Tilt Side Bar | 1612 14th Street NW
Courtesy of Tilt Side Bar
Po’boys on the bottom and delicious cocktails on the top—Tilt Side Bar is located above Pearl Dive and in the back of Black Jack. This fun-themed bar is very different from the rest of the speakeasies on this list. Instead of taking you back to the '20s, Tilt Side Bar’s time machine only reaches the '80s. Therefore, if you’re an '80s baby, you’ll enjoy the pinball machines, quirky cocktails, and funky decorations.
So, what are you waiting for? Take a trip to the roaring '20s and head to one of these hidden speakeasies!