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Fabulous Speakeasy Bars & Hidden Cocktail Lounges in Washington, DC




Step into the glamorous underworld of Washington, DC's secret cocktail culture! Explore hidden speakeasies and secret lounges where inventive libations meet the roaring spirit of the 1920s. Within the same vibrant city where history was made with the ratification of the 18th Amendment, immerse yourself in a world of craft cocktails and artisanal spirits. From unmarked entrances to concealed doors, embark on a thrilling journey through dimly lit hideaways that promise an evening of mystery and excitement.


Silver Lyan



Image Courtesy of washington.org



Silver Lyan is the downstairs cocktail bar at Riggs Washington DC, lovingly crafted by London-based bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana (commonly known as Mr. Lyan). The bar is the mastermind's first U.S. venture, and the menu and design of the space give a nod to the history of cultural exchange in America. Lyan is best known for several cocktail bars across London, most famously Dandelyan - which was named the best bar in the world in 2018. At Silver Lyan, expect internationally infused drinks like the Superman 2 (Hendrick’s gin, oak wine, oolong, flinted strawberry and green pea) and Kiwa cocktail (Altos tequila, shrimps, gunpowder tea, Morita chile, tropical aperitif and lime), plus the silver service martini with four varieties to choose from, all served with an oyster, olive, house-pickled onion and lemon.


Allegory



Image Courtesy of washington.org


Inside Downtown DC’s Eaton Workshop visitors will find a 200-plus room hotel that houses a progressive-minded co-working space and four unique food and drink concepts. Make your way toward the back of the hotel, peer behind a wall of books and you’ll happen upon Allegory, a sleek, shadowy cocktail bar with an extensive drink list. Settle down on a leather couch, admire the mural that pays homage to civil rights activist Ruby Bridges, along with a whimsical Alice in Wonderland theme and imbibe literary-themed concoctions.


The Gibson




The corner of U and 14th streets may be one of the most well-known and crowded intersections in the city, but the Gibson remains inconspicuous, and for good reason. Accessible only through an unmarked door, the speakeasy makes good on faint lighting, reservable tables in secluded enclaves, a back patio to spread out and, most importantly, bespoke drinks that call your name. Look for the Literary Cocktails series and special tasting events curated by bartender-sommelier Chantal Tsen.


Code Red



Image Courtesy of washington.org


Travel back in time to the Prohibition era through a mysterious door along 18th Street. Hammer on the vintage knocker, provide the password (hint: it's in the name) and discover the swanky bar and lounge of Code Red. The cocktails pay homage to the '20s, with clever names and a bit of a backstory, while the menu features an eclectic spread from smoked bone marrow and lamb lollipops to seared foie gras and Wagyu beef sliders. Bonus: enjoy happy hour daily from 5-7 p.m. and $1 Rappahannock oysters every Tuesday.


Chicken + Whiskey




Affordable, succulent South American–style chicken in the front and 99 whiskeys in the back – that’s the name of the game at Chicken + Whiskey, the fast-casual chicken joint-whiskey bar hybrid on always-exciting 14th Street. Après dinner, walk through the rear refrigerator door (seriously!) and you’ll stumble upon a not-so-secret, wood-panelled bar touting two-ounce pours and reasonably priced cocktails, not to mention an impressive vinyl collection with DJs spinning on select nights.  With an impressive collection of international whiskeys as well as domestic favourites, pick your pour or order a handcrafted cocktail.


Left Door




Walk just beyond the resounding cacophony of young professionals on benches at a bustling beer garden and you’ll see two doors at 1345 S Street NW. The door on the right will lead you to a dry cleaning business, while the door on the left will lead you up a staircase to the aptly named Left Door, a DC cocktail haven slinging drinks in a no-frills environment.

Be on the lookout for fun seasonal beverages.


The Alex Craft Cocktail Cellar & Speakeasy





Tucked inside Georgetown's luxurious-yet-boutique The Graham Georgetown hotel is the Alex, which harkens to a bygone era, melding Victorian aesthetics with “farm-to-glass” cocktails and live jazz music on certain nights of the week. Telephone-themed details pay homage to the bar's eponym, Alexander Graham Bell. Only accessible by keyless entry using a special code, it features an extensive menu of shareable bites and large plates, making it the ideal destination to mosey up to the bar and spend the evening partying like it’s 1899.


Off the Record




Just across Lafayette Square from the White House, The Hay-Adams started as a residential hotel in the 1920s. Its clubby, lower-level drinking hole, Off the Record, feels like a secret hideaway, known as "the place to be seen and not heard." Think red, tufted banquettes, political caricatures on the walls and coasters, crowds of lobbyists, locals and smartly dressed tourists who can fit in. Sample the spot’s long Scotch list or try a classic highball like a Manhattan.


The Backroom at Capo Deli





There’s more than meets the eye at Capo Deli, a Jersey-style import from South Florida. On the surface, it’s your favourite deli from home recreated in Shaw, complete with freshly sliced meats stacked on crispy-on-the-outside seeded sub rolls, and prepared home-style Italian dishes. But unlike your hometown deli, this one stays open until 3 a.m. or later on the weekends. And that large freezer door in the back? It’s actually the entrance to The Backroom, a comfy, candlelit hidden bar where those in the know can savour a delightfully stuffed Italian combo with a house cocktail.


Serenata



Tucked within La Cosecha Market, Serenata was born from DC powerhouses: Daniella Senior, a certified sommelier who is also a partner at the Michelin-starred Brescia; cocktail expert Juan Coronado, known as the “cocktail innovator” for José Andrés; and Andra “AJ” Johnson, author of “White Plates, Black Faces.” Celebrating Latin-inspired drinks, these creative concoctions are crafted from tropical juices and original spirits. Look out for the new open-air Spritz mobile bar, featuring Latin-leaning sparkling cocktails and wines.


The Mirror




Once named one of the top five speakeasies in DC by USA Today, The Mirror is tucked away at the bottom of a flight of stairs on K Street NW, where you will be greeted by – you guessed it – a full-length mirror. Ignore the "For Rent" sign next to it; you will find the cocktail den behind the mirror. Inside, the Prohibition-era vibes are strong, creating a ‘we-can't-be-caught-here’ atmosphere much like the speakeasies of the 1920s. The cocktail selection isn't overly complicated, but expect classic drinks like the Tom Collins and an Old Fashioned to be marvellously executed.


*All images courtesy of washington.org


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