Ever since nightlife pros discovered people would pay $15 for a drink so long as they passed through a bookcase or backdoor first, the term “speakeasy” has become utterly meaningless. You don’t even need to bother with the elaborate entrances anymore! Just turn down the lights, put a gin cocktail on the menu, and suddenly, you’re a secret Prohibition bar. Well, we here at Thrillist want to salute the bars that actually appreciate a little mystery, which is why we put together this list of the most secret bars in the United States. Naturally, we’re not suggesting no one’s heard of these places — if they were full-blown secrets, they’d be out of business — but rather, we’re tipping our hats to them for their efforts to shroud the operation. May their passwords be ever-changing and their phone numbers be forever unlisted.

The Back Room fronts as the Lower East Side Toy Company, but once you push past all the kiddie cars, you’ll wind up in a bar that serves booze in teacups, just like actual speakeasies! The drink menu includes shout-outs to retro film stars (the Mary Pickford) and ‘Merica (the Uncle Sam). But no matter what you order, it’s best enjoyed on Monday night, when a live jazz band invades the place.

The Blind Lion

Rapid City, SD
Yes, this bundle of boas and fedoras looks kitschy as hell, but The Blind Lion isn’t messing around. South Dakota’s secret bar to beat features an entrance so elaborate that a local magazine filmed a 1:24 video to make sure readers didn’t get lost. Cell phone use is discouraged in this retro joint and it also doesn’t want you sharing the passcode. Because again, not messing around.

Sandy Springs, GA
The secret bar formerly known as Fred is located in the basement of Taco Mac. You’re only allowed in if you’re a member of the Brewniversity program, because the place is a beer nerd’s dream. The Chapter Room has all sorts of rare, seasonal, and specialty beers along with some very luxe leather chairs for you to enjoy them in. But just to make things super exclusive, you can’t merely skip down the Taco Mac stairs to this beervana. You have to go outside, find the separate unmarked entrance, and buzz the red button. The staff will scan your Brewniversity program card and if it’s legit, you can go in. If not, seek your Belgian and Czech brews elsewhere.

The Gotham Club

San Francisco, CA
Not feeling your warm stadium beer? If you’re at a Giants game, you’ve got other options. The Gotham Club is a members-only speakeasy located behind the scoreboard of the AT&T Stadium, and it’s every bit as cool as it sounds. This place has ice shaved into baseballs, old-school arcade games, tons of nerdy memorabilia, and a private bowling alley. You won’t be admitted unless you’re a member, though (and they won’t even tell you where the entrance is until you enroll), so start scraping together the $2,500 initiation fee.


Philadelphia, PA
You can forget about your fancy libations at Fiume. This place isn’t even a little concerned about ’20s speakeasy vibes, but it is a pretty secretive bar. Your journey begins at Abyssinia, an Ethiopian restaurant in University City. Confidently stroll past the main entrance to the right of the building, where you’ll spy a small flight of stairs leading to a “restaurant entrance.” Go up them, and then past the yellow doors and bathrooms. Eventually, you’ll wind up in Fiume, a tiny bar that feels like a living room. It’s got PBR + shot specials and even (improbably) live music to enjoy as you trounce your buddy in a game of pool.


Austin, TX
It’s not named Garage for nothing: this newcomer is actually hidden in the old valet ticketing office of a parking garage. (The one by the American National Bank building on Sixth and Colorado, to be precise.) It keeps the speakeasy theme going with Prohibition-era drinks and a record player, but don’t worry, Eliot Ness won’t show up to bust up your parking-complex merriment, so keep drinking.

The Green Light

Raleigh, NC
Hidden inside The Architect Bar and Social House, this speakeasy is housed in a former architect’s office. You’ll weave through a bookcase and a secret doorway masked by a heavy curtain to reach the place, presumably named for the emerald beams Gatsby was so obsessed with. Once there, enjoy the elaborate craft cocktails and newfound understanding of that tiny, random lightbulb outside the Architect’s entrance.

Hanson’s Shoe Repair

Orlando, FL
It’s been a very long time since Hanson’s Shoe Repair was a cobbler’s shop, but it still references its past through decorative footwear displays and the coded voicemail — which offers to repair “shoes that have lost their spirit.” Once you make a reservation through that phone line, you’ll receive a text with the passcode. On the big night, you’ll go to the third floor of NV Art Bar, ring the bell at the door, give your code, and proceed in. Stay inside or head out back to the patio, where this guy could be playing sweet sax tunes.


San Francisco, CA
At this point, you’re probably familiar with Bourbon & Branch, the beloved SF whiskey bar. You probably even know about its “hidden” bars, The Library, Wilson & Wilson, and Russell’s Room. But you probably don’t know about its super-hidden basement bar, Ipswitch. The place is only accessible via trap door and shares its name with the actual speakeasy that operated on Bourbon & Branch’s grounds during Prohibition. You’ll need to book a large party to even be considered for Ipswitch clearance, and even then, you might not make it. Basement bars are a cruel mistress.

Lock & Key

Los Angeles, CA
Finding the sketchy unmarked entrance isn’t even the hard part. Once you’re past the front door, you’ll enter a tiny room lined with doorknobs. Seriously, they’re all over the walls. It’s up to you to find the one that actually opens into the bar, all while a dude in a bowler hat watches you. Lewis Carroll only wishes he came up with this idea.


Kansas City, MO
A trip to this Kansas City speakeasy will involve schlepping down an alley. It will also involve searching for an unmarked door. It may even involve sidestepping trash accumulated from the block (again, it’s down an alley!). But if you stick through it all, you’ll end up staring at this extensive drinks menu, which totally makes up for the delightful dumpster smells outside.

No Vacancy

Los Angeles, CA
It’d be silly to pretend No Vacancy is actually a secret — we even called it the biggest bar opening of 2013 — but the Houston brothers went to some impressive lengths to cloak this place in mystery. First, you need to get to the Victorian home that houses the bar. Next, you’ll approach three doors. Once you find the right one, well, we don’t wanna spoil it for anyone who still hasn’t made the pilgrimage, but there’s a bed involved and a lady and you might think you’ve been transported back to an early 1900s brothel but then you’re magically in the bar. Which is stocked with cocktails curated by LA’s top mixologists, by the way. It’s almost like the owners have done this before.

Noble Experiment

San Diego, CA
This SD watering hole is hiding inside another restaurant (Neighborhood), but you won’t be slipping past a rigged bookcase to get to it. Instead, find the stack of kegs by the bathroom and push, ’cause it’s a dummy wall hiding Noble Experiment’s entrance. Normally we’d be offended by so much fake beer, but luckily, this place has plenty of quality booze to make up for it.


Alexandria, VA
PX isn’t going to make things easy for you with actual signs, so you’ll instead have to look out for the blue light next to the unmarked door. When it’s on, the bar is open. A hostess will greet you at the door and lead you upstairs to the gilded secret space. Once you’re settled in, get ready for some squid ink- and tobacco-infused cocktails. Seriously.

Raines Law Room

New York, NY
First of all, let’s take a moment to appreciate Raines Law Room’s name, which references an 1896 law aimed at curbing NY liquor consumption. The place furthers the speakeasy vibes with its dim lighting, serious cocktails, and, of course, its unmarked entrance. (It’s in a basement to boot!) The staff only allows a few people in at a time and you can only make reservations on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays, so be prepared to wait nearby. They’ll text you when a spot opens up.

Room 13

Chicago, IL
This Windy City spot hits all the secret-bar marks. Alleyway entrance? Check. Password-protected? Check. Exclusive to members? Check. You can apply for membership at the Old Chicago Inn, which houses this speakeasy, but you’re also entitled to entry if you book a room at the hotel. That doesn’t mean you can wander down in your PJs, though. Fancy dress is encouraged, and, fellas, if you didn’t bring your sports jacket with you, they’ll be happy to stuff you into one of theirs.

Williams & Graham

Denver, CO
If you were anything like us, you spent every childhood Clue tournament imagining a dream home with at least four trick bookcases. You probably didn’t end up with that manor (and if you did, congratulations on your inheritance, Jared Rockefeller), but you can at least experience a moving bookshelf in action at Denver’s Williams & Graham. Simply walk into the bookstore front and zero in on the shelf full of books “on drinking” or by boozy authors. Pull Savoy and you’ll soon be in a library of spirits ranging from Kentucky bourbon to mezcal. Study them all well, friend.

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