Check Out These Historic Speakeasies Across the USA



Psst. What’s the password? All across the United States, you’ll find historic speakeasies that survived and thrived during Prohibition. From hidden gems to popular watering holes, check out these iconic speakeasies—they’re the bees’ knees!

The Green Mill (Chicago, Illinois)

The Green Mill in Chicago, Illinois, is a long-standing jazz club that originally opened in 1907 and was once favored by gangsters and titans of industry (it’s rumored that Al Capone himself frequented the spot at the height of his reign). These days, the high-class art nouveau cocktail lounge operates on a cash-only basis and features live jazz every night from 8 pm-midnight. Go early to secure a spot (seats go fast, and the standing room fills quickly) and sip a martini at the bar underneath the glow of neon lights.

Merchants Cafe and Saloon (Seattle, Washington)

There’s something spooky about the Merchant’s Cafe and Saloon in Seattle, Washington. Built in 1890, it’s the oldest remaining restaurant in Seattle and once operated as an underground speakeasy during Prohibition. Stop in for a quick Merchant’s Old Fashioned and fish and chips, or take the haunted tour and stay overnight in one of the historic apartments above the cafe to learn more about the ghoulish history. With any luck, you won’t be subjected to ghost manager Otto’s antics!

Neumann’s (St. Paul, Minnesota)

The oldest bar in St. Paul, Neumann’s, is a saloon-turned-speakeasy-turned-pub that was built in 1887 and secretly sold booze from the second floor in the 1920s. Go for a quarter-pound Jim Neumann burger and a pint of Sam Adams, but don’t leave without seeing the keyhole window used to screen guests during the seedy Prohibition years. You can also see the antique phone used to alert patrons of approaching authorities.

The Townhouse (Venice, California)

Established in 1915, swanky and chic Townhouse is the oldest bar in Venice. During Prohibition, the basement served as a speakeasy while the upstairs operated as a grocery store. Today, the speakeasy lives on as The Del Monte – gain access via the illuminated stairs and enjoy the beats of local DJs, jazz bands and bottle service. On the main floor, play pool, lounge in the cognac leather booths, and imbibe from a curated selection of elevated craft cocktails like gin martinis and mules.

The Owl Bar (Baltimore, Maryland)

The Owl Bar in Baltimore, Maryland, proudly displays its namesake on nearly every surface, from the wallpaper and drinkware to stained glass works of art. Opened in 1903 in what was once the Belvedere Hotel, this historic spot used to cater to gangsters, detectives, royalty and movie stars. Today, you relax under the golden glow of chandeliers and enjoy an Owl Espresso Martini or a Bacon Hazelnut Old Fashioned. Or drop in for the various events held throughout the week, such as trivia nights and happy hour.

Pete’s Tavern (New York, New York)

Pete’s Tavern in NYC moonlighted as a florist during Prohibition, hiding the bar behind a password-protected entrance beyond a false refrigerator. The Gramercy Park staple still features original 1864 fixtures like the 40-foot rosewood bar, tin ceiling, and tile floor, but the menu has been updated to feature Italian-inspired fare and more modern cocktails. Sip on Pedo’s Paloma or a Ski House, try the spaghetti bolognese and eggplant parm, and enjoy the street-side patio on a nice day.

The Mint Bar (Sheridan, Wyoming)

You can’t miss The Mint Bar in Sheridan, Wyoming – literally, the massive neon sign featuring a bull-riding cowboy makes this old-school Western saloon hard to overlook. Channel your inner cowboy to sip on a pint of your favorite draft beer and a Kentucky Mule while taxidermied animals like wolves and deer watch over the bar from every angle. Enjoy live country music every week and tell your friends to “meet you at The Mint,” a common saying around Wyoming since the bar opened in 1907!

Bourbon & Branch (San Francisco, California)

Bourbon & Branch in San Francisco retains its Prohibition-era speakeasy atmosphere to this day (the space operated illegally from 1921 to 1933), though cell phones are now outlawed in the establishment while liquor flows freely. Pick your poison from the intensive cocktail list – try a historic cocktail from the 1800s on the evergreen Standards menu. Ring a buzzer and relay the password to access the secret library cocktail lounge, or make a reservation for the most exclusive, intimate tasting in the speakeasy’s backroom speakeasy: Wilson & Wilson.

McGillin’s Olde Ale House (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

McGillin’s Olde Ale House in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, lives up to its name as the oldest tavern in the city. It opened in 1860 and continued to operate through Prohibition by sneaking patrons into the second-story speakeasy by a side door. Today, you’ll enter through the front door between the cheery yellow windows and choose from more than 30 Pennsylvania-brewed beers on tap. Nosh on Philly cheese steak and other classic pub fare, and sample signature cocktails like Ma’s 1860 Manhattan.

Take this guide with you via your iPhone with Apple Maps! Click here and enjoy these historic speakeasies on the go!

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