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.
118 E 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90014
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.
1159 N Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90029
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.
The Roger Room
370 N La Cienega Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90048
One step inside West Hollywood’s Roger Room and you’ll know why this is one of LA’s greatest speakeasy type bars. Mixing a vintage speakeasy theme with a modern twist, the drinks here will remind you of days gone by as well. Add in waiters in attire from the olden days and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a modern day speakeasy. Favorite cocktails here include their ‘Thug’ with Buffalo trace bourbon, Barenjager honey liqueur, lemon juice and spicy habanero bitters as well as the Spiced Mule with Sailor Jerry spiced rum, ginger juice, lime juice, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon. Drink up!
108 W 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
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
1154 N Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
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
52 Windward Ave
Venice, CA 90291
Townhouse is already a bar, but go down to the basement and you will find a bar within a bar! Established back in 1915, 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. Fun fact: this is the oldest bar in Venice and one of the oldest in Los Angeles!