The Best Speakeasies in Philadelphia

| © Saturnine / Flickr
Culture Trip Travel Team

Philly’s speakeasies offer foodies experiences and menus outside the city’s iconic cheesesteaks. Among them is a private bar that survived Prohibition, whereas others are passion projects. If you want delicious drinks in an intimate atmosphere, check out some of the best speakeasies in Philadelphia.

Hop Sing Laundromat

Bar, American

To enter Hop Sing Laundromat, ring the doorbell and wait for the doorman, who may interrogate you with questions or turn you away for dress code or lack of ID. No sandals or cell phones are allowed, and only groups of four or more are permitted. However, when you enter, you’ll find yourself sipping some of the best expertly crafted cocktails. They have every liquor imaginable, and bartenders frequent the ladder to grab bottles on the top shelves. The dark library-style room is cozy and perfectly intimate for a date. Come prepared – it’s cash only.
- embed -

Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co.

Bar, American

Classy and sophisticated, Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. is one of Philadelphia’s most popular Prohibition-style speakeasies. The new menu has been cut down to one page of drinks, but customers who know what they’re looking for can still ask the bartenders for a specific concoction. The flavorful and creative cocktails are instilled with the expert knowledge of the mixologists. Perfect for dates, happy hour or a nightcap, this bar is well worth a visit.
- embed -

Fermentery Form

Bar, Craft Ale Bar, American

This artisan brewery is located in Philadelphia’s West Kensington neighborhood, and it may be one of the best kept secrets in the Philly beer scene. Frequent patrons might be upset that Fermentery Form is on a list for everyone to see, but the beer is so good that it would be a shame to keep it under cover. This small brewery is only open on Saturdays from 2-8pm. Additional hours are usually announced via Instagram either the day before or the day of. Visitors may have a hard time finding the brewery since it’s located down a side alley with no sign. It’s right next to Keystone Mini Golf & Arcade, and the glow of a green lightbulb will identify the door. Most of the patrons are brewers from other breweries, or staff from local restaurants. Their conversation is very industry and beer-heavy. Sip a Farmhouse Ale by the wall of barrels, and make sure to taste the SLO-MO, a beer aged on blackberry and cherry purée. Try to get there early because once they sell out of a beer, you won’t be able to get it. Cash only.

- embed -

Hi Kori (Bao Bar)

Bar, Japanese

This Chinatown cocktail bar can’t be seen from the street. The small, Japanese-style hideout can be found in the back of Chinatown Square, an unassuming food court on Race Street. Upon entering, it still isn’t clear that the bar exists. Visitors will have to walk past food stalls, the bathrooms, and the steps leading up to a Korean restaurant. In the back, next to the KTV is Hi Kori, also known as the Bao Bar. The wooden awning looks like the sloping top of traditional, Japanese buildings, and the station is manned by only two bartenders. The beer list features Asian favorites like Tsingtao, Asahi, Tiger beer, Sapporo, and Kuninocho. Their Happy Hour specials include a Tsingtao and a shot of Baiju, Sapporo and Sake shot, or a Hite and Soju shot. Their speakeasy-style cocktail list features alcohol infused with matcha, green tea, oolong tea, and ginger. They specialize in Japanese street food which pairs perfectly with the drinks.

- embed -

Ruba Club

Bar, American

This speakeasy cabaret and social club was founded in 1914, giving it over a hundred years of history. The club can be found in Philly’s Northern Liberties neighborhood and is only open Thursday through Sunday from 10pm-3am. It has two floors and houses a vintage, speakeasy bar, dance floor, and theatrical stage. While the club is open to the public frequently for shows, it’s membership-only, costing $35 for the year. Members get reduced after-hours admission, as well as the ability to rent the space for private events and parties. Open an hour later than most bars in Philly, Ruba is where artists, industry professionals, and neighbors gather for once last cocktail.

- embed -

Pen & Pencil Club

Bar, American

According to its website, this is one of the oldest operating press clubs in America. The bar only serves working members of the press, and the people who support them. The general public usually can’t get in, unless they happen to befriend a local writer or journalist. Established in 1892, the bar was able to stay open during Prohibition due to its connections. In 1892 Philadelphia had nearly a dozen newspapers, and the journalists behind them needed a place to drink, complain, and swap ideas. The bar hosts book talks, wine tasting events, and poetry nights. While the club has a speakeasy atmosphere, the drink menu sticks to classic Philly beers like Yards and Yuengling. From the outside, it looks like nothing more than an abandoned warehouse. The red, fluorescent P&P sign in the window is the only thing that gives it away. The lighting is dim and the decor gives off a dive-bar feel rather than a sophisticated speakeasy. It’s a laid-back watering hole for Philly writers who need a place to unwind.

- embed -

Ranstead Room

Bar, American

Plush, red leather booths, ornate wallpaper, and a chandelier give this speakeasy an elegant atmosphere. Visitors venture down an alleyway and look for the black door with two Rs on the outside. Once inside, guests are met by a hostess who will make them wait until a seat opens up at this tiny establishment. It’s dimly lit with photographs of classy nude women, framed in gold. The bartenders are dressed in white button-down shirts with ties, and they look like mad scientists as they concoct drinks. The drink list features artisanal options like Love on the Rum, made with egg yolk, apple juice, rum, rye, and butter maple syrup. If you want a traditional, speakeasy feel, the Ranstead Room won’t disappoint.

- embed -


Bar, Restaurant, Ethiopian

Fiume’s location in west Philadelphia near the universities has made it popular among a younger crowd. To enter, walk through the Ethiopian restaurant Abyssinia. Only people who are in-the-know will be there, many of them eating an Ethiopian meal at one of the tables if space allows. The bartenders have a no-nonsense attitude, and the place is strictly cash only. It seems a bit impromptu, as if someone just decided to set up a bar on a whim, though that’s also a part of its charm.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.