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During the prohibition era of the 1900s, alcohol sale, manufacturing, and transport was banned, and the cocktail was born. Speakeasies and bootleg bars transformed Los Angeles after dark with the secret allure of underground soirées and live jazz performances. Los Angeles is recognized for its exclusive night clubs and secret societies, because let’s be honest, nothing tastes sweeter than a well-kept secret, or a chilled glass of moonshine. Get lost in time and check out these top hidden speakeasies all over LA.
Established in 1915 by Italian immigrant Cesar Menotti, this historical gem is the oldest bar in all of Venice. Located beneath the Townhouse, Del Monte speakeasy features live music, hand crafted cocktails, and burlesque. When prohibition hit Venice beach, Menotti transformed the Townhouse into a local grocery store and took his liquor business downstairs; the Del Monte speakeasy quickly became the hottest nightclub and bar in the city. A century later, the Del Monte is still serving classic drinks, like world-class whiskey and French 75 in an intimate space with a full bar and a low ceiling authentic to its time. Be sure to try a signature glass of Moscow Mule made with homemade ginger beer before heading down to the Del Monte for an unforgettable old school experience.
Although there is no visible sign outside, the doorman of this inconspicuous bar is on the look out for puzzled faces and will suspiciously ask you if you are looking for the Roger Room. Be prepared to lose yourself in time from the very moment you enter the unmarked door and walk through a thick red curtain. The Roger Room is home to LA’s most talented mixologists who will whip up the best speciality cocktails in town. For a sweet and frothy treat, try the Japanese Maple Whiskey made with smooth Yamazaki whiskey, pure maple syrup, lemon juice, and egg whites. And if you’re feeling especially daring, order a “Death in the Afternoon” from the Absinthe section of the menu, or play it safe with a “Green Fairy.”
Located in DTLA, this trendy hideaway lies behind an unmarked brown wooden door at the back Cole’s sandwich shop. Considered “the godfather of LA’s craft cocktail movement,” the Varnish attracts eastsiders, LA locals, and the after-work crowd on any given night of the week for craft drinks and live jazz Sunday through Tuesday after 9 PM. The skilled bartenders chip novelty ice cubes from a block of ice to perfectly chill each drink without diluting it. Although there may be a wait due to limited seating inside, feel free to check out the menu at Cole’s and bring your sandwich with you to Varnish for a late night treat. For a unique experience, ask for the “Bartender’s choice”, pick your poison and describe your drink preferences to the bartender, who will handcraft a unique concoction made specifically with your personal taste in mind.
Specializing in mixology, this neighborhood speakeasy calls upon all cocktail aficionados. Although its name is very telling, finding the way to enter Lock and Key proves to be quite a challenge. The ‘20s-inspired cocktail bar is known for its novelty entrance. Behind a mysterious red door is a black wall covered in hundreds of doorknobs; only one of which leads to the vintage bar, so choose wisely. Once inside, sit back and enjoy old school hip hop, and be sure to check out the extensive menu for some of LA’s best cocktails, using original ingredients like artichoke liqueur, agave, and green grapes. Lock and Key hosts #icecreamsunday events with brunch from 11 am – 2 pm and a dance party at 2, complete with hookah, tequila punch bowls, and the best djs around the world. This old-school speakeasy meets the swanky vibes of Koreatown with a beautiful outdoor patio perfect for sipping on unique cocktails under a string of lights. Plan accordingly, as dressy attire is required for entry.
This one of a kind speakeasy is located in Hollywood’s oldest Victorian mansion and features live music, burlesque dancers, and trapeze acts in the courtyard. Visitors arrive in their best attire and are directed to a Victorian-themed hallway where they are faced with three unmarked doors, two of which are locked. The unlocked door leads to a vintage-like bedroom and within moments, you’re transported into the 1920s era before you can mutter “speakeasy.” In addition to a hidden photobooth beneath the stairway, the bar features tight roping, fire spitters, and other outrageous theatrical acts on the outdoor patio. While outside, head over to the Secret Garden bar for a local favorite, “china doll” made with Gin, Jasmine water, a splash of lemon juice, coconut creme, egg white, and edible flowers. No Vacancy is often true to its name; its exclusive nature makes it a favorite amongst LA locals and private parties, so be sure to arrive early or have your name on the list.