Original f30a65342fe9cd1d031aac9dc8474a7a.jpg?1465578706?ixlib=rails 0.3

We can thank the 1920s for several things: swing dancing, silent movies, Mickey Mouse, and, of course, the speakeasy.

The speakeasy was originally created in response to a need: During Prohibition (1920–1933), when alcohol was illegal in the United States, speakeasies offered under-the-radar destinations for revelers seeking illicit beverages. Although these businesses were technically illegal, they were patronized by a large portion of society—especially in larger cities like New York.

As a premiere cultural hub of their time period, speakeasies were known for bringing people together—especially people of different genders, races, and social classes—and helping cultivate the let-loose-and-let-live vibe of the Roaring ’20s. Though we no longer live in a Prohibition era (can we get a hallelujah?!), the collaborative, welcoming, and, of course, rule-breaking atmosphere of traditional speakeasies has carried over to their modern counterparts.

Today, speakeasy-style bars, marked by hidden entrances, secret passwords, and low-lit spaces, are enjoying a renaissance across the nation. In cities such as L.A., New York, and San Francisco, new lounges are capitalizing on both the exclusivity and the party-hard reputation of 1920s speakeasies. Here are five of our favorites.

Original bathtub gin.jpg?1465577740?ixlib=rails 0.3
5 Modern Speakeasies Making a Comeback in the United States
Click through to see five modern speakeasies that bring back that Prohibition-era vibe.
Courtesy of Bathtub Gin
  • 1 / 6
    Original bathtub gin.jpg?1465577740?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Bathtub Gin
    New York, NY
    Hidden behind the Stone Street Coffee Company storefront, Bathtub Gin’s name honors an old speakeasy tradition. During the 1920s, “bathtub gin” was steeped in a large tub along with flavorings like juniper berry juice to help make the homemade spirit more palatable. The bar’s gin-based cocktail menu and large copper tub centerpiece help bring customers back into a time of swing dancing, jazz, and defying the law. The place serves a full dinner and brunch, along with spirits, wine, beer, and, of course, artful cocktails.
    Courtesy of Bathtub Gin
  • 2 / 6
    Original gtdw.jpg?1465516875?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Good Times at Davey Wayne’s
    Los Angeles, CA
    Good Times at Davey Wayne’s might be the most popular of Houston Hospitality’s many L.A. speakeasies. It honors the Houston brothers’ late father with ’70s-style decor and music. Guests are welcomed into this Hollywood bar through a front driveway and garage-style entrance and are immediately transported back in time, courtesy of the Brady Bunch-worthy decor, an Airstream trailer, and a backyard BBQ. The menu features light bites like pork belly sandwiches and spicy Korean BBQ ribs, along with beers, wines, and craft cocktails. But the key to getting inside this speakeasy isn’t a password or special invite—it’s just getting there during off-hours. A bar this cool is nearly always busy, but coming early or on a weeknight will help increase your chances of beating the line.
    Courtesy Good Times at Davey Wayne’s
  • 3 / 6
    Original speak the green light photo 4 .jpg?1465577546?ixlib=rails 0.3
    The Green Light
    Raleigh, NC
    Raleigh’s The Green Light proves that the speakeasy trend isn’t limited to bigger cities. Located behind a bookcase door in the back of The Architect Bar & Social House, The Green Light is an architect’s office turned cozy lounge, where experienced bartenders, a small bar, and mixology creations await. Rumor is, a bouncer in front of the somewhat-hidden door will usher you right inside on slow nights, but busier weekend nights may leave you struggling to get inside this “secret” space.
    Courtesy of The Green Light
  • 4 / 6
    Original bourbon and branch.jpg?1465577996?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Bourbon & Branch
    San Francisco, CA
    In perhaps the best example of honoring 1920s culture, this San Francisco lounge is located in a space formerly occupied by an illegal speakeasy. Today, Bourbon & Branch strives to preserve a similar atmosphere, upheld by the “house rules” including no cell phone use, no photography, and—our favorite—no cosmos. Patrons of this spot are also encouraged to “speak easy,” aka softly—a common request of patrons during the 1920s. Appropriately named, Bourbon & Branch is best at mixing specialty cocktails, especially those made with dark liquors. For the most exclusive experience, try to gain entry to Russell’s Room or Wilson and Wilson, two speakeasies within a speakeasy, each more exclusive than the last.
    Courtesy of Bourbon & Branch
  • 5 / 6
    Original midnight cowboy.jpg?1465578280?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Midnight Cowboy
    Austin, TX
    The uber-hip Midnight Cowboy is Austin’s resident new-school-meets-old-school lounge. Unlike many other speakeasy-style bars, Midnight Cowboy offers explicit instructions for how to get inside—the best option being for guests to make reservations online. For walk-ins, the vacancy sign will be illuminated if tables are available. If the light is on, guests can ring the buzzer marked “Harry Craddock” for entry. Once inside, Midnight Cowboy wins over hipsters and traditionalists alike with a menu of house cocktails ranging from classics to innovative blends. Many of its creations are made to share, while others are crafted tableside from ingredients wheeled around on a cart.
    Courtesy of Midnight Cowboy
  • 6 / 6
    Original screen shot 2016 06 10 at 10.09.59 am.png?1465578619?ixlib=rails 0.3

article continues below ad