Often, the journey is more (or just as) exciting as the destination, and this certainly applies to secret bars. Nothing is more thrilling than trying to fiddle with a bookcase to unlatch a secret door, slipping through the kitchen of a burger joint to get to a hidden booze den, or placing your hand on a discrete floral painting to gain entry into a VIP bar.
Make a Call in a Secret Phone Booth to Open a Door at Please Don’t Tell NYC (USA) This cool joint is located in an unassuming little hot dog shop in New York’s East Village. Once you step inside, head straight for the phone booth, pick up the phone and wait for the voice. It will ask if you have a reservation (FYI – you should have booked in advance). If you do, the side of the phone booth swings open, inviting you into a dimly lit bar.
Featuring a wooden floorboard ceiling lined with taxidermy, and a mix of modern leather seats and glowing neon lights, this place is a fusion between a Scottish hunting lodge and an old school speakeasy. Hop up by the bar and get ready for some seriously top-notch cocktails!
Twiddle the Right Book to Get into The Vault (London) Tucked inside London’s oldest whiskey shop is this cool little whiskey bar. Once you’ve found the right hardback, it will spring open a door, which will lead you down a neon-lit staircase and down into this basement bar. It’s a no-fuss place, with bare brick walls and simple wooden paneling.
At the bar, tattooed bartenders will mix up some awesome whiskey-based cocktails (but there’s plenty other drinks if you’re not a fan of the smoky stuff). Don’t forget to say hi to Chester, the in-house dog, who enjoys sipping water Martinis by the bar.
Slide Back a Bookcase at The Blue Room (USA) We can never get enough of secret bars behind bookcases! Head to the fourth floor of Los Angeles Athletic Club, where you’ll find a few rows of books (which is actually a disguised door). You’ll travel through a secret passage that was built during the Prohibition period, and it’s lined with photographs of the athletic club from the 1880s. At the end of the corridor, pull back the black velvet curtain to reveal one of the world’s oldest secret bars.
Since opening back in 1912, this place has served many mega Hollywood stars, from Rudolph Valentino to Charlie Chaplin. This members-only bar is steeped in history, as it’s covered in antique books, retro tennis racquets and more old photographs. Rather than being just some trendy props (like modern bars have), these decorations are genuinely a real piece of history.
Slink in Through a Burger Joint at The Butcher (Amsterdam) If you didn’t know it, you’d think this was just a swanky burger place. But in reality, behind the kitchen is a great little speakeasy. Just say the special password and you’re in. In classic prohibition-style, it’s dark and moody, but the drinks are creative and the burgers aren’t bad. If you’ve got your heart set on going to this popular secret kitchen bar, make sure you book in advance.
Climb Through a Trapdoor to Find Ipswitch (USA) This epic bar is inside the well-known San Francisco Bourbon & Branch cocktail bar, but it’s not as simple as that. See, Bourbon & Branch has a secret bar inside it called Russell’s Room, and here is where you’ll find the trapdoor in the floor that will take you to the extra hidden bar called Ipswich. The coolest thing about this bar is that it’s named after the actual bar that used to secretly serve during the 1920s. Pretty rare to drink in an ACTUAL Prohibition bar, right? Good luck on getting a spot in this tiny two-seater bar, but you can at least try.
Locate the Umbrella Handle to Gain Entry to Foxglove (Hong Kong) Getting into this secret bar is no easy feat, so you’ll have to seek out a few crazy things. First, enter what looks like a fancy umbrella shop and start looking for the umbrella handle at the back of the boutique. It will open up into what looks like a glamorous first-class aircraft cabin, with plush purple seats and a curved cream-colored ceiling.
Want to explore more? You need to place your hand on a specific floral painting in here to get into the VIP room. It will start to glow, and then a door will open into another secret room with emerald green marble counter tops and smart leather seating.
Address: Printing House, 2/F, 6 Duddell St, Central, Hong Kong
Hunt for the Unmarked Door in Chinatown to Find 28 HongKong Street (Singapore) Known mostly by word-of-mouth, you might need to befriend some locals en route in order to locate this secret bar (because their website gives barely anything away). Once inside you’ll find a slick black marble bar, a few cozy booths and a jazz and rock soundtrack. For the cocktails, Eastern ingredients are mixed to make West Coast-style serves. Want in? Taking a spot in Asia’s 50 Best Bar List for 2016, this in-demand place requires a reservation.
Address: 28 Hongkong St, Singapore 059667
The general rule is, if you want to check out a secret bar, you should book ahead to avoid disappointment because these places are hot stuff! Now that you’ve ticked off a few secret bars from your bucket list, check out some more with BUCKiTDREAM’s guide to London’s Secret Cocktail Bars and The 8 Best Bars in New Orleans