What’s the Password?: 5 Best Speakeasies in America

Popular during Prohibition, speakeasies are now making a comeback as a place to get drinks and enjoy a totally different atmosphere than most other bars. Once you discover their sometimes hidden location and learn the secret knock or password, you’ll find yourself immersed in an atmosphere that has almost disappeared from the nightlife landscape. Here are just a few of the best speakeasies around the country.

Bourbon & Branch – San Francisco, California

Started in 1923, Bourbon & Branch still operates from its original location and has kept the decor and atmosphere intact. After gaining entry, patrons must follow the “House Rules”, which include no cell phones, no photography, and no Cosmos. The speakeasy also has a range of drinks, with the staples being Canadian Whisky, rum, and tequila. With joints like this, it’s no wonder that San Francisco and its surrounding suburbs are some of the best places to live in the country.

Thaxton Speakeasy – St. Louis, Missouri

If you want something a little off the beaten path, the Thaxton is perfect. Located in downtown St. Louis, the Thaxton is in an old art deco style building. To enter, head behind the building and tell the bouncer the week’s password. For those looking for the authentic experience, try Prohibition Thursdays, complete with people in authentic 1920’s apparel and a swing band featuring the lovely Miss Jubilee. They also teach swing lessons, so get there early with your dancing shoes on.

Room 13 – Chicago, Illinois

Another of the more secretive speakeasies in the country, Room 13 is a bit more difficult to access. The only way to enter is by applying for a yearly membership or booking a room at the Old Chicago Inn located next door. Once you get in, everything looks exactly like it did in the 1920s, including a large tapestry and other interesting items. Room 13 also features Prohibition-era cocktails, charismatic bartenders, and live jazz. Make sure you wear the proper attire. Men need jackets and slacks.

Prohibition – Atlanta, Georgia

Prohibition wins the award for the coolest entrance of all the speakeasies on this list. To get in, look for the red, British-style phone booth on Andrews Street. Once inside, you’ll need to pick up the phone, talk to the bouncer, and give the secret password. Then, you push through the wall of the phone booth into the speakeasy. Inside, you’ll find fancy decor, complete with red leather couches. You’ll also have the chance to enjoy several tasty cocktails or a cigar from their large, walk-in humidor.

Cafe D’Mongo – Detroit, Michigan

If you want something a little less secretive, try Cafe D’Mongo Speakeasy. It doesn’t require any secrets to enter, yet it still serves up authentic Prohibition-era cocktails. The real gem is the live music on Fridays, which features everything from jazz to folk to world music. It’s also worth mentioning that Friday is the only day this place is open, so make sure to plan accordingly.

These are just a few of the many speakeasies around the country that are worth a look. Then again, it’s possible that many of them will escape your notice. So keep your eyes peeled and your ears open for a memorable night.

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