Cocktails are delicious no matter where you drink them, but somehow they taste better when you're hanging out in a secret hideaway—ideally a place with an extra dose of glamour, an exclusive crowd, and ultra-talented bartenders. Here, six places you'll want to know about. But make sure you plan ahead, because there's no guarantee you'll get in.
Apothecary 330, Fort Lauderdale
Grab dinner at PizzaCraft in downtown Fort Lauderdale, and stick around for handcrafted drinks at its hidden sister bar Apothecary 330. Open daily at 5PM, the spot is only accessible by an unmarked door inside the pizza joint. The guests, who range from a who’s who of South Florida to Miami Dolphins team members to local cocktail aficionados, mingle amid the vintage-style lounge furniture as they sip stiff drinks from the bar. Options include more than 300 types of whiskeys, an absinthe drip, an extensive wine list, more than 20 craft beers on tap, and a roster of 1920s-inspired cocktails like the Hemingway Daiquiri and the RX (Prescription), a mix of rhubarb tea liqueur, gin, charred strawberry, fresh lemon, egg white and vincotto. Kick back to live music on select nights and, since the dress code is semi-formal, make sure you dress to impress.
Dram & Grain at Jack Rose Dining Saloon, Washington D.C.
Famous faces including Robin Wright-Penn and Kate Mara of House of Cards have been spotted kicking back at Dram & Grain, a bar tucked away inside the Jack Rose Dining Saloon in Washington D.C. Here's how to join them: First, you have to secure your spot at the small 20-seat bar, open only Tuesdays through Saturdays starting at 7PM, by sending a text to a burner phone (202-607-1572) with the date, time and party size; then wait for a confirmation. Once there, enter the bar-within-a-bar through a sliding wooden door in the basement of Jack Rose and order a drink from a thick leather-bound book with over 20 pages of selections. Expect plenty of Scotch and American whiskey selections, plus an extensive cocktail list featuring drinks made with flavored ice and rare vintage spirits like 1967 Green Chartreuse. Photo by Emilio Pabon.
Bourbon and Branch, San Francisco
You’ll find the San Francisco speakeasy Bourbon and Branch in the The Tenderloin area—if you can find the front door, that is. Keep an eye out for a silver panel and a ringer. When the door opens, you’ll be asked for a password. Here’s where it pays to plan ahead: Make a reservation on the website so you can get that password before you go. For the non-planners, try saying the word “books” to the doorman, and you might be re-routed to the Library Bar around the corner where you can ask about the daily-changing secret password. Housed at the same address as an early-20th-century speakeasy, the darkly lit Bourbon and Branch has a number of rooms (some more secret than others) and serves 200-plus drinks divided into five categories: Champagne cocktails, classics, international drinks, Bourbon and Branch favorites, and market-fresh cocktails. Can’t decide what to order? Allow your bartender to shake things up with a custom creation of bespoke ingredients. PS Hit up the right person and you'll get a tour of several secret tunnels, still intact from a bygone era.
The Walker Inn at The Normandie Club, Los Angeles
If you want to check out The Walker, make sure you go online to reserve a spot at The Normandie Club at Hotel Normandie, which occupies the same building in Los Angeles’s Koreatown. Open Wednesday through Sunday from 7PM to 2AM, the clandestine bar is accessible via a rear entrance at The Normandie Club. Push a button and a red light switches on, letting the doorman know you’re there. With your confirmed bar seat comes a two-cocktail tasting, starting at $45 per person, with choices ranging from traditional to reimagined classics. Photo courtesy of The Walker Inn/Instagram.
Entrada, San Diego
Past the massive entryway mural and faux-olive trees at the Mexican restaurant Entrada in San Diego’s Little Italy lies a hidden gem of a bar. While there’s no password necessary to access the weekend-only speakeasy, you’ll need to know where to look for it: It's tucked away behind a vintage church confessional in the dining room. Get there and you'll be tempted to stay well into the wee hours, thanks to the dim lighting, dance floor, DJs and haute craft cocktails ranging from tiki drinks to lots of whiskey and cognac options. Photo courtesy of entradasd/Instragram.
Lantern’s Keep, New York City
New York City’s bar scene has its fair share of hidden bars—including one of the O.G. speakeasies of the 21st century, the East Village's PDT. In midtown Manhattan, not generally considered the most prolific neighborhood for cool bars, there's the under-the-radar Lantern’s Keep. Sitting behind the lobby of a slicked-up century-old hotel, the Iroquois, the intimate cocktail den is open for business when the lantern on the hotel’s exterior is shining brightly. Sip on expertly made 1920s cocktails while you lounge like a royal amid the Impressionist-style paintings and velvet Louis XIV chairs.
Want more insider tips about the best under-the-radar places to eat and drink? Check out Off the Menu, a new digital series premiering in April on BravoTV.com.
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