The prohibition era of the 1920s was known for its prolific speakeasy bars that opened in response to the nationwide ban on alcohol. The iconic style of hidden-away lounges with secret passwords, unmarked signage and disguised entrances didn’t disappear with prohibition’s repeal, and made a lively comeback in Los Angeles over the past decade. Duck into any of these speakeasy-style bars to sip libations in a uniquely mysterious space.
The Varnish – Downtown LA
One of the original bars kicking off the speakeasy resurgence, the Varnish is located at the back of Downtown LA’s lauded Cole’s French Dip restaurant. With an award-winning bar program, and cozy space that was formerly a storage closet, you’re sure to enjoy the exemplary speakeasy experience.
In Sheeps Clothing – Downtown LA
Head to Lupetti Pizzeria in the Downtown Arts District to find In Sheep’s Clothing tucked behind a nondescript door inside the restaurant. The “hi-fi record bar and cafe” prides itself on creating a music-focused experience with loud conversations and photos discouraged while listening to the featured vinyl albums.
Old Lightning – Marina Del Rey
You’d never guess that at the back of bustling restaurant Scopa Italian Roots, a priceless collection of some of the world’s most rare liquors would be building at Old Lightning. Those with a palate for vintage bourbon and whiskey check their phones at the door for an intimate lesson in aged flavors and irreplaceable spirits.
Alley Lounge – Culver City
Culver City’s Alley Lounge is an inviting bar tucked away behind Fin restaurant, and can be found beyond what looks to be a kitchen service door at the end of an unassuming alley. Delicious drinks and talented bartenders keep guests entertained along with a menu of late-night eats.
The Edison – Downtown LA
One thing that may give away this speakeasy’s location is the long line of patrons hoping to get in each weekend. Located down a flight of stairs at the end of an alley, this site of a former power plant now takes on the unique combination of steampunk and vintage decor with burlesque dancers helping to set the sultry Roaring Twenties mood.
Sunset & Vinyl – Hollywood
With no sign or indication that it exists, much of Sunset & Vinyl’s popularity came from good old fashioned word-of-mouth, just like its speakeasy predecessors. Visit Sunset and Vine’s 800 Degrees Pizza location and head up the stairs in the back of the restaurant to find this vintage, vinyl-inspired space perfect for listening to music with a flavorful cocktail.
La Descarga – East Hollywood
Travel back in time to 1950s Havana at La Descarga in East Hollywood. With a surprising secret entrance that leads you to an expansive room filled with live salsa music, burlesque dancers and cigar smoking, your senses will be overwhelmed as you dance the night away in this rustic hot spot.
Adults Only – Hollywood
Guests may not expect much from a strip mall bar, but are in for a treat at this spacious lounge in Hollywood. Pass through the faux adult video store entrance to find a dance floor, a big screen playing videos and plenty of room to mix and mingle in the youthful, nightlife atmosphere.
Bar Jackalope – Downtown LA
Seven Grand is one of Downtown’s prized whiskey bars, but for an even further elevated experience, become a member and reserve a spot at the exclusive Bar Jackalope hidden inside. Non-members can try the place out on a first-come first-served basis to ring the mysterious doorbell and taste a series of Japanese whiskeys.
The Del Monte Speakeasy – Venice
This historical destination is an original Los Angeles speakeasy that operated during prohibition by smuggling in alcohol through underground tunnels. Currently standing as Venice’s oldest bar, you can find this seductive space by descending the stairs at Townhouse, formerly an inconspicuous grocery store with a clandestine secret. Live comedy shows, burlesque performances and DJs entertain the Westside at this vintage hot spot.
Pacific Seas – Downtown LA
Initially opened in 1932 to channel an adventurous island oasis, Pacific Seas restaurant was the original inspiration for American tiki culture, and was reopened in 2016 as a speakeasy within Clifton’s Downtown. You’ll find it behind a hidden door on the fourth floor of the massive bar and lounge.
R Bar – Koreatown
This Koreatown dive bar channels a true prohibition style with a rotating password that guests must track down each night. Inside you’ll find a pirate-themed space with karaoke and bar food for a laid back night out.
Good Times at Davey Waynes – Hollywood
This local favorite is known for its signature garage sale entrance and long lines stretching down the block. Guests pile in each night to experience the 1970s living room theme with classic hits from the decade playing all night long, along with a backyard patio to take in the LA breeze.
Blind Barber – Culvery City & Highland Park
Don’t be fooled by the fully-operational barbershop storefront, Blind Barber keeps the “party in the back” when you head through a door in the shop to find its lively lounge space. Similar to its NYC, Chicago and Miami locations, the sleek, hidden bars in Culver City and Highland Park offer up great cocktails and the brand’s signature grilled cheese sandwiches.
£10 (Ten Pound) – Beverly Hills
The Montage Beverly Hills is hiding a secret, and you’ll find it when you head up the hidden staircase on the second floor of the hotel. Ten Pound is a lavish lounge that specializes in single malt Scotch, so you won’t be disappointed by their impressive whisky collection.
Break Room 86 – Koreatown
One of Koreatown’s favorite hangouts is the 1980s-themed Break Room 86. Follow your guide down a secret passageway within The Line Hotel to enter the vibrant bar filled with cassette tapes, old televisions, breakdance performers and even private karaoke rooms.
Basement Tavern – Santa Monica
A staple on the Westside, Basement Tavern sits beneath The Victorian–a historic home built in 1892 that was transported to its prime Santa Monica location on Main Street. The underground lounge is perfect for an intimate night on the town with occasional live performances in a vintage setting.
No Vacancy – Hollywood
An ode to 1920s prohibition, No Vacancy is one of Hollywood’s best hot spots with a Disney-esque speakeasy entrance that’s sure to impress. The historic building was formerly a schoolhouse for the children of Hollywood’s Golden Age, and later a brothel, but now stands as a go-to for delicious drinks, burlesque performances and dancing on the outdoor patio.
Lock & Key – Koreatown
You may not expect much from the exterior of this covert hotspot, but a stylish speakeasy lounge hides behind a room full of doorknobs where guests are tasked with figuring out a way in. The back patio makes for an inviting dancefloor on weekends along with plenty of space to mix and mingle amongst intricate textures and sultry furnishings inside.
The Slipper Clutch – Downtown LA
Fans of ‘80s-style arcades will love this retro bar hidden behind Downtown’s Bar Clacson. Follow the sign for ‘Highballs’ to find The Slipper Clutch, a two-story space filled with vintage arcade games and a playlist of exclusively classic rock and punk music.
| Read More: The Secret Life of Modern Speakeasies |
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