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Best Secret Bars In Los Angeles

July 12, 2012 6:00 AM

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Hidden doors and secret passwords all add to the mystique and allure of a time gone by: the shadowy and clandestine glamour of the 1920s Prohibition Era. It was a time when gin was made in bathtubs and spirits were imbibed in secret, plain rooms and basements. It was a time when mob molls and good-time girls were the prettiest adornments in those hidden rooms. Today we can drink in the open, but the appeal of the roaring 20s remains strong. In a city where exclusivity is all the rage, how could it not? We scoured Los Angeles to bring you the best hidden bars, new and old.
101766252 Best Secret Bars In Los Angeles

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The Varnish
118 E 6th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90014
(213) 622-9999

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.

Related: Best Day Drinking Bars in Los Angeles

nightlife music secret bars r bar Best Secret Bars In Los Angeles

Photo Credit: R Bar

R Bar
3331 W 8th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90005
(213) 387-7227

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.

nightlife music secret bars beachers madhouse Best Secret Bars In Los Angeles

Photo Credit: Beacher’s Madhouse

Beachers Madhouse
7000 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028
(323) 785-3036

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.

126106300 Best Secret Bars In Los Angeles

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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.

nightlife music secret bars blind barber Best Secret Bars In Los Angeles

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Blind Barber
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).

Related: Best Rock Bars in Los Angeles

Kristen Lowman spends her days writing and her nights at concerts. She lives on the Miracle Mile in the City of Angels. Her work can be found at

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