Eighty-five years after Prohibition ended, speakeasies have become less about hiding the consumption of alcohol and more about serving interesting craft cocktails in dimly illuminated spaces. Head to these U.S. speakeasies, some modern and some historic, and feel as though you’re in on the best-kept secret in town.
Las Vegas has no shortage of bars, but some are easier to find than others. Head to the back of the Commonwealth bar, and look for a red lightbulb. If it's illuminated, there's seating available at the Laundry Room, a 1920s-style speakeasy and an escape from the Strip with black and white photographs, a chandelier and velvet-backed sofas.
Stick to the menu, or tell the bartender what you like for a custom cocktail (around $15). Reservations highly recommended; text the phone number to make one.
Info: Laundry Room, 525 Fremont St., Las Vegas; (702) 701-1466
Read about cocktails while you wait for a moving bookcase to grant you entry to Williams & Graham, a small speakeasy in the back of a Denver bookstore.
The We Want a Shrubbery! cocktail (gin, apple shrub, lemon and honey, $14) is a crowd favorite, and booze aficionados will be pleased with the long lists of whiskeys, liqueurs and other libations. It’s a popular destination; get your name on the list and grab dinner nearby while you wait.
Info: Williams & Graham, 3160 Tejon St., Denver
Order a cocktail ($14) named after your favorite author (there’s a gin-forward Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and an F. Scott Fitzgerald cognac drink), and come hungry for duck-fat fries ($8) and escargot in puff pastry ($16).
Online reservations suggested, or just walk in and tell the host at Kendall’s where you want to go.
Info: The BoardRoom, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles
Until 1987, you couldn’t easily get a glass of wine or a cocktail in a bar in Kansas, which lends an air of authenticity to the Underground Saloon/Bar in the Historic Wolf Hotel in Ellinwood, a town of about 2,000 two hours northwest of Wichita.
Before you can down a shot of whiskey, you’ll have to give the costumed doorman the password (which you can find on Facebook) and traverse a tunnel. Live music on select nights.
And just in case you enjoy yourself a little too much, you can pop upstairs to the hotel part of the building and get a good night’s sleep in rooms decorated in period style.
Continental breakfast is included.
Info: Underground Saloon/Bar, 1 N. Main St., Ellinwood
The Mint Bar in Sheridan had to rebrand as a cigar shop and soda fountain during Prohibition, but ranchers and cowboys managed to find booze in the back of the “shop.”
Today, the bar is less subtle (there’s a neon sign of a cowboy out front), but its cedar walls, decorated with cattle brands, are steeped in history. You won’t find craft cocktails here, but there’s a jukebox and plenty of beer on tap.