Now that Boardwalk Empire is returning from hiatus, you may have a hankering for some ‘hooch’ in a ‘juice joint.’ To give you a taste of the speakeasy spirit of the 1920s, we’ve found some of the best bars that capture the swell essence of the times.
Bathtub Gin, New York City
One of the city’s best speakeasy-style bars, Bathtub Gin at 132 Ninth Ave., in Chelsea, uses a café guarded by a large bouncer in the evenings as a storefront. Once you’re on the other side of the trick door, you enter an opulent, Prohibition-era restaurant and bar. Reserve a plush booth and enjoy live performances by songstresses in flapper attire, as you sip on superbly mixed gin cocktails. A copper bathtub in the middle of the joint welcomes you to climb in for a photo opp.
Bourbon & Branch, San Francisco
San Francisco’s best underground ‘20s establishment is the exclusive Bourbon & Branch in the Tenderloin; and it’s the real McCoy. From 1923 to 1935, this spot was a working, boozing speakeasy disguised as J.J. Russell’s Cigar Shop. Today, the dimly lit lounge is still password-protected and gives imbibers the feeling of exclusivity that comes from entering an unmarked door. Order a cucumber gimlet from the suspender-clad bartender and wind through the secret passageways or enjoy the library. Just make sure you make a reservation, like a real speakeasy, there is no standing at Bourbon & Branch.
Harold Black, Washington D.C.
If the nation’s capital is where you’d like to relive the epoch of bootleggers and wasted taxpayer money, head to the recently opened Harold Black, located on Capitol Hill. This very private spot is owned by the same proprietors of Acqua Al 2 and Suna. They are of the word-of-mouth school of thought, and shun the Internet. To acquire a reservation, you must first find the number by calling either of the two sister establishments. Then, you must text to coordinate a reservation. Candlelight, leather booths, antique furnishings, excellent elixirs with premium ingredients belie the difficulty of the process and the accompanying vittles. Priced at $14, their cocktails, including the bourbon filled Sled Dog, are some of the best in the city.
Do you have any other favorite speakeasy bars? Tell us in the comments below.