118 E 6th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90014
While the Varnish itself and its widely-raved-about specialty cocktails hasn’t been much of a secret for years now, you do need to be in the know to get there. The only entrance is secreted away in the back of Downtown LA’s legendary Cole’s restaurant. Amid stained wood cluttered with sepia-tone pictures is an oak door unmarked with the exception of a cocktail glass photo. Once inside the dark, intimate 50 seat venue, you will enjoy a cocktail list that rotates daily.
3331 W 8th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Psst! While it may be easy enough to miss one of Koreatown’s favorite dive bars from the street, its entrance isn’t really unmarked. Look for the large “R” topping the Korean writing over the entrance and you’ll find yourself in the right place. Getting in, however, will require a password, which changes monthly and can be found on the bar’s twitter feed. The effort is well worth it, as the drinks are cheap, strong and the menu has a little something to hit the spot for everyone.
7000 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028
Half nightclub, half circus and all intrigue, Beachers Madhouse is one of a handful of delightfully unique venues located within the iconic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The twist is in the entry, which is hidden behind, of course, a bookcase and means crossing a tunnel into the club. The fun doesn’t stop there. Inside the venue, prepare for speakeasy entertainment straight from the days of the Untouchables, in the form of live comedy and, yes, vaudeville routines.
Del Monte Speakeasy
52 Windward Ave.
Venice, CA 90291
LA’s original basement-operated Speakeasy dates all the way back to the Prohibition, when it was established beneath a Venice beach grocery store in 1915. In those days, the booze was wheeled in from the shore via a network of secret, underground tunnels. Today, the grocers is gone and our historic gin-joint is housed beneath another, equally historic landmark, the Townhouse Saloon. Revel in the authentic 1920s roar with Del Monte’s varied entertainment – everything from burlesque to indie rock – and Boardwalk Empire libations. Del Monte is open most days and rarely charges a cover, but you should always check the website before heading out for the most up-to-date information.
10797 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
The newest addition to the secret bar scene in LA might’ve only opened its doors late in April of 2012, but it traces its roots back to the NYC establishment of the same name. In front is a spiffy, vintage-inspired barber shop (no quartet), where you can, yes, get your hair trimmed daily from noon to 9 p.m. Head to the back of the shop after 6 p.m., however, and a rather nondescript and unassuming door will transport you through the looking glass to what has quickly become the city’s most buzzed-about covert haunt. The dance floor is armed with DJs spinning masterfull beats while the menu is armed with short order bites and delightfully named $10 concoctions that will get you spinning (in a grand way).
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