To commemorate Repeal Day, Foursquare found some of the country’s most historic bars from during the Prohibition Era. Foursquare search uses a proprietary algorithm that uses a number of factors, including tastes, likes, popularity, loyalty, local expertise, language in tips, and 6 billion check-ins from over 55 million people worldwide.
The 21 Club is a townhouse-turned-speakeasy that is now one of New York’s famous restaurants. Since its inception as a speakeasy in the 1920s, the restaurant has hosted a handful of presidents and too many celebrities to count. Don’t miss the hidden wine cellar, which was once used to hide alcohol during Prohibition and reportedly still holds some of President Nixon’s wine.
It isn’t a private club, but men do have to wear a jacket. We recommend ordering a 21 Burger, taking off your tie, and imagining that you’re dining with Frank Sinatra.
“Ask your waiter about touring the spectacular hidden wine cellar in the basement, which was used to hide booze during Prohibition. It’s this place’s semi-secret gem.” – Theodore
“In June of 1932, “21” Club was raided by federal Prohibition agents in search of liquor. Agents failed to find the two thousand cases of winehidden in 21 Club’s secret wine cellar vault…” – NY History
501 Jones St (at O’Farrell St), San Francisco, CA 94102
Bourbon & Branch is a prohibition-themed speakeasy in a building that actually had a speakeasy during Prohibition. You should plan on making a reservation and getting the password of the day. Oh, and the outside isn’t marked, so you better know where you are going. If you make it inside, you’ll find an amazing bourbon collection, fantastic bartenders, and even a secret library.
“Sit and the bar and tell the bartender something you have in mind, without being too specific. Don’t even think about using your cellphone in here.” – Michael
“Go to Bourbon and Branch and be transported 90 years into the past while enjoying the most complex and expertly prepared libations ever!” – Scott
139 W 10th St (at Greenwich Ave), New York, NY 10014
Today this West Village townhouse serves up cocktails and food inspired by international and modern american cuisine, but the downstairs speakeasy, Janis, was once the home of Janis Joplin. Diana Ross once performed in the basement speakeasy where Bob Dylan and The Ramones were also regulars. While you aren’t guaranteed to find any music superstars, the cocktails and backyard will make up for it.
“this West Village townhouse, once home to rocker Janis Joplin, was also the scene of Diana Ross’s first live show. (She performed in the basement speakeasy.)” – Gilt City
“A really beautiful historic space. A former speakeasy. Try the scallops with the porcini mushroom risotto.” – Greg
4802 N Broadway St (at W Lawrence Ave.), Chicago, IL 60640
At the height of Prohibition, Green Mill saw its share of infamous mobsters, like Al Capone and his man Machine Gun Jack McGurn. You won’t run into any organized crime bosses these days, but you also won’t find any drink menus… so know what you want to order. Green Mill is also one of the best places to catch live jazz or a poetry slam in Chicago. You’ll have to drink at your own risk — this joint is supposedly haunted.
“During Prohibition, Al Capone had a favorite booth, which still seats patrons. Today the Uptown club books some of the best jazz artists in the world & the Green Mill hosts a poetry slam every Sunday.” – CNN
“Way back in the day, Al Capone was a regular at this Chicago cocktail lounge – make sure that you check out the secret passageway behind the bar that allowed him an easy escape all those years ago.” – Richard
718 Saint Peter St (at Bourbon St.), New Orleans, LA 70116
If you’ve visited Bourbon Street, you’ve probably stopped by Pat O’Brien’s. Known for its hurricanes, patio, and piano bar, this place is also home to some of the best people watching in New Orleans. Pat O’Brien opened a speakeasy during Prohibition on St. Peters Street and decided to make it a legit business in 1933. Over the years, Pat O’Brien’s has moved a few blocks, grown, gotten a second piano and earned the reputation as one of the most famous bars in New Orleans.
“The bar began as a speakeasy during Prohibition, requiring a password to enter. It became a legitimate establishment in 1933, and moved to its present location in 1942.” – Will
Old Town Bar
45 E 18th St. (btwn Broadway & Park Ave. S), New York, NY 10003
These days people go to Old Town Bar for the perfect burger and and an after-work drink scene where everyone is welcome. The bar has been open continually since 1892, with a German-inspired menu and the same mahogany and marble bar it has today. During prohibition, the bar was renamed “Craig’s Restaurant” and was protected by members of Tammany Hall.
In addition to being filmed in a handful of TV shows and movies, Old Town Bar holds a piece of literary history, with regulars like Frank McCourt, Seamus Heaney, Nick Hornby and Billy Collins.
“This place was a speakeasy during Prohibition called Craig’s Restaurant. Want proof? Check out the booths that have seats that lift up in case you need to hide your booze quickly from the authorities.” – Rich
“Founded in 1892, The Old Town Bar was run as a speak-easy by Tammany Hall during Prohibition. It is also home to New York’s oldest active dumbwaiters!” – NY History
389 4th St E, Sonoma, CA 95476
The Franciscan brothers of San Francisco planted the first vineyard here in 1925 for sacramental wine. After being secularized in 1904, Samuele and Evira Sebastiani opened Sebastiani Vineyard & Winery. This was the only Sonoma vineyard to remain open during Prohibition. Though the vineyard was producing wine only for medicinal and religious purposes, it still holds a unique place in the history of California Winemaking.
“Only vinyard around during prohibition so it carries some history. Since 1904. A block down from the downtown and tasting room worthy of a visit.”
5210 N Clark St (btwn W Farragut & Foster Ave), Chicago, IL 60640
Simon’s Tavern is a Swedish dive bar, so it is the perfect place to have some Glogg or Aquavit and meet all of your neighbors. Simon’s opened as a speakeasy during prohibition and features a bar modeled after the S.S. Normandie, one of the era’s finest ocean liners.
“Simon’s – the founding Simon was Swedish, of course – began as a basement speakeasy during prohibition (upstairs was a grocery) and went legit in 1934.” – Explore Chicago
530 William Penn Pl (Between 6th & Oliver), Pittsburgh, PA 15219
It might not be the most creatively named bar in Pittsburgh, but it might just have some of the best cocktails. Plus, Speakeasy was an actual speakeasy during the Prohibition era. Hidden in the Omni William Tell Hotel, the bar served as storage for decades after the 21st amendment was passed.
“This was actually a speakeasy during the prohibition. That, alone, makes it cooler in its own way than anything else in Pittsburgh. The Moscow mule and apple gin mule are delicious.” – Shane
“ An actual former speak easy. It was found by mistake and was use for storage In the bottom of the penn hotel. Only takes capacity no standing. 2 mixologist that work it steady. Good prices & drinks.” – Erik
624 3rd St. (btwn Congress & Fort), Detroit, MI 48226 https://foursquare.com/v/tommys-detroit-bar–grill/
Built in 1840, this building housing this downtown Detroit bar saw the Prohibition era and was once a stop on the Underground Railroads. These days you can stop by Tommy’s for a game of pool, nachos, and maybe even a tour of the (possibly haunted) passageways.
“Ask Tommy about the history of the place including the tunnels used during prohibition and the underground railroad. Rumer is they are haunted” – Jonathan
And a few modern speakeasies inspired by Prohibition…
1725 N Hudson Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028
With lights that say “sex” and a disco ball, Dirty Laundry isn’t the most authentic speakeasy around. But with an impressive cocktail list and a door that requires a secret name, you can see the Prohibition inspiration.
“Providing you know the right name to drop (let’s face it this is LA, everyone knows a name to drop) this is one of the coolest spots in town. Prohibition era images, low ceiling and great cocktails” – Boaz
“You’ll need to spy their twitter account to find the name to buzz in order to get in, but an impressive cocktail menu awaits you once you enter this Prohibition-era speakeasy.” – Serious Eats
112 S 18th St (btwn Chestnut & Sansom), Philadelphia, PA 19103
This bar sounds a lot less buttoned up than it actually is. Led by Max “Boo Boo” Hoff, Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. served as a cover for the largest Prohibition era alcohol ring.
These days, The Franklin is all about the cocktails. The underground bar boasts an ever-changing list of cocktails and bartenders that can make you anything you want — provided it doesn’t include vodka. Plus, one look at the bar and you’ll feel like you are the king of bootleggers yourself.
“At one point, this spot served as the front for the country’s largest alcohol ring. Now it’s aspeakeasy (with limited seating) celebrating cocktails and the golden age of the pre-prohibition era.” – City Grit
“The name of one of the city’s largest bootlegging operations during Prohibition, Franklin Mortgage & Investment looks like a speakeasy. Located near Rittenhouse Square, it’s a dark, clubby place.” – USA Today
The Gibson is an old fashioned speakeasy tucked just off of one of DC’s busiest nightlife strips. Ring a bell next to an unmarked door and walk up to one of the city’s finest cocktail bars. Order a handmade classic cocktail, something off of their innovative seasonal menu, or just tell the bartenders what you’re craving. While there is no standing room, the back patio adds extra seating.
“A clubby speakeasy serving classic cocktails. Order one (or two or three) of the old-fashioned fizzes or sours, plus olives or another light bite from the snack menu.” – Travel + Leisure
“In true speakeasy style it is difficult to find. It is right next to the Marvinwith only a hand painted writing on the brick wall to indicate The Gibson. Great place with the best well mixed drinks.” – Christina
Patterson House was named after Malcom R. Patterson, a former governor of Tennessee that is known for vetoing a popular prohibition bill in 1909. Located in a townhouse in Nashville’s Midtown, the intimate bar is decorated with grand chandeliers and dark wood. Along with the prohibition-feel, the bar also serves Prohibition era cocktails, including a Bacon Old Fashioned.
“Located in an old Midtown residence, this bar feels like a Prohibition-era gentleman’s club. But the people-watching-worthy crowd sipping Bacon Old Fashions couldn’t seem less, well, old fashioned.” – Lucky Magazine
“One of Nashville’s greatest bars. Old school southern libations from the prohibition era, try anything with whiskey in it.” – Glenn
113 Saint Marks Pl (btwn 1st Ave & Avenue A), New York, NY 10009
You might not expect to find some of New York’s finest cocktails inside a hot dog joint, but PDT follows the classic speakeasy tradition of hiding bars in the most unexpected places. Once you are inside Crif Dogs, step into a phonebooth and pick up the phone. You might have to wait bit, but the bacon-infused bourbon will make it all worthwhile.
“Call the number at 3:00 PM sharp on the day of and make a reservation. Watch your dates face when you bring her to a hot dog stand.” – Jason
“Even though the acronym means “Please Don’t Tell,” word’s been out about modern speakeasyPDT for quite some time now. Momofuku bar director John deBary got his bartending start here.” – Eater
Note; The above was taken from an official press release