Speakeasies came about during the Prohibition era when alcohol was illegal. Banning alcohol didn’t stop Americans from consuming it though. In fact, alcohol consumption increased and bars were taken “underground.”
Speakeasies were hidden and underground places that sold beer, wine and spirits. It is said that the term “speakeasy” came about because when the crowd inside the concealed bars got too loud, bartenders didn’t want officials to discover their hideouts so they would tell people to “Speak Easy” (a nicer way of saying “shut up, we don’t want the cops to find us”). Although alcohol is legal again and we can all drink freely, it’s still a little thrilling to visit places that have a Prohibition theme. Here is a list of LA’s top “speakeasies” or speakeasy-themed bars and lounges.
Walk through Cole’s in Downtown Los Angeles, all the way towards the back of the room and look for that signature door and logo. Behind that guarded door, you will find a very small and dark space called Varnish. It is probably the most well-known and popular speakeasy bars in LA. Their Prohibition-type cocktails are on point and strong.
The Sayers Club has an excellent cover up: hot dogs! More specifically, Papaya King hot dogs. This is where you can find this speakeasy, modeled after the popular ones in New York such as PDT (Please Don’t Tell). Weekends are difficult to get into but try going during the week. If you aren’t successful, at least you can still get your hot dog grub on.
Love rum? Love cigars? Want to feel like you stepped into Havana, Cuba? If you answered yes to those questions, La Descarga is the perfect place for you. Once the doorman outside lets you inside, you walk up a flight of stairs into a tiny room with a desk and closet. The hostess there will then open those closet doors to show you the secret world of La Descarga, filled with a wide selection of rums, cigars, sexy dancers, and a live band.
What used to be an old power plant is now a hip and popular bar called The Edison. The décor is dark, eccentric and transports you to a time of flappers and long, thin, classy looking cigars dahhhling. Keep an eye out for their themed nights where you can really get into character and dress like you are in the Roaring 20′s.
Next Door Lounge
There is a well-dressed gentleman in formal attire and an interesting moustache outside the door and he is the gatekeeper. Do you have the secret password? If not, you may not be allowed to enter. (Hint – visit the website to obtain.) Next Door Lounge features waitresses dressed in red flapper dresses, plush velvety couches, black and white movies and amazing cocktails. This sophisticated and stylish lounge is perfect if you want to catch up with good friends or find a quiet corner for public privacy with your significant other.
The Del Monte Speakeasy at Townhouse
Townhouse is already a bar, but go down to the basement and you will find a bar within a bar! The Del Monte Speakeasy is in the basement and back in the Prohibition days, this space was a REAL speakeasy. Nowadays, you can enjoy the cocktails without worrying about getting caught and arrested for consuming those beers and spirits.