These days, you have to #dobetter if you want to fill a bar — you can't just serve a dirty martini. Or, rather, you can serve the same dirty martini to both the 60-year-old crowd and to your average 23-year-old, but you need to serve it in a dimly lighted space, ideally with a secret entrance. Thus the speak-easy, a kind of establishment that makes classic bar patrons feel like they're watching a Ken Burns documentary and the current serial L.A. nightlifers feel like they've got a new reason to go out for drinks.
The present-day version of the Prohibition-era bar features craft cocktails and a distinct sense of belonging to a clique. Kind of like the Freemasons, with booze.
Chances are, if you're in an L.A. speak-easy, it belongs to Mark and Jonnie Houston, owners of Houston Hospitality. The twin brothers are behind Good Times at Davey Wayne's, La Descarga, Dirty Laundry, No Vacancy, Pour Vous, Harvard & Stone and Piano Bar.
"A speakeasy is a secret passage to an experience, and we're showcasing the evolution of that concept," said the pair in an email. "We hope that our spaces provide an escape for our guests, a break from their every day lives."
If you're looking to escape your everyday humdrum, these eight modern speak-easies are a good place to start.