These low-light and cozy quarters create a Prohibition-era vibe of incognito, while the meticulous bartenders remain entirely conspicuous in their reverence for a well-made drink.
With the rise of the craft cocktail movement—artisanal ice, house-made infusions, a newfound appreciation for bourbon—it was only a matter of time until we got more suitable digs. Enter the modern speakeasy.
1. The Gibson
thegibsondc.com or 202/232-2156
No signage out front? Check. Unassuming front door? Check. Reservation required? Check. The 48-seat Gibson is a dark, intimate spot along D.C.’s U Street Corridor. You wouldn’t call the bartenders “chummy,” but watch one spend five minutes building your cocktail—a torched orange peel here, a furious muddle there—and you’ll understand the drink is meant to speak for itself.
2. The Patterson House
thepattersonnashville.com or 615/636-7724
Since The Patterson House introduced the modern speakeasy to Nashville in 2009, nowhere in the Deep South has pressed bourbon into such inventive service (e.g., the Bacon Old Fashioned). And the house rules keep it civilized: No seat, no drink. No cell phones. No “shenanigans.”
3. B Bar
Miami Beach, FL
bbarmiami.com or 305/531-3934
Truly underground, the B Bar is accessible only by descending a hidden staircase off the lobby of The Betsy hotel to an unmarked, locked door. Inside it's dusky and tight but plush with maroon banquettes, a reflective vinyl ceiling, and clusters of beautiful people. Bold and bright cocktails, such as the cumin-spiked Sun Virgin, will keep you in the basement all night.