In the early 1900s, speakeasies were illegal drinking establishments that sold liquor without a license. These booze-filled clubs were set up behind legal front shops and used doorbells and spotlights to warn customers of impending raids. Some speakeasies also required a password to enter. Aside from alcohol, some of them even offered a little entertainment.
As prohibition spread across the country, speakeasies popped up, too. They often took over a basement of a building or offered a hidden entrance. Some of them were only open to those that knew the proprietor. Others had passwords that allowed only a certain number of people into the club.
One of the best speakeasies in Washington DC is The Mirror. It is a cocktail den located on K Street NW. It offers a variety of cocktails, including Old Fashioned and Tom Collins. It also hosts an ongoing literary cocktail series organized by Chantal Tsen.
Another excellent DC speakeasy is Hyde. This bar reactivates the former home of Harold Black. The establishment is a fusion of contemporary and retro aesthetics. The interior is full of striking gold curtains and flickering candles. The bar is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. You can request a password from a staff member, or the speakeasy will email it to you the day before the event. There are no reservations, but the bar does impose a capacity limit.
For a craft drink, there are many bars to choose from. Hyde, Silver Lyan, and The Wells on Capitol Hill are just a few of the many options. All of them have their own unique charms. While each of these spots has a particular theme, they all have a focus on their drinks. For example, Silver Lyan specializes in classic and international infused drinks.
If you’re in search of a more relaxed atmosphere, check out Chicken + Whiskey. Its signature drinks include a Bourbon cocktail with chocolate bitters and strawberry-infused Campari. Their menu features a wide range of drinks that WDC speakeasy are priced reasonably. Other drinks on the list include a s’mores Martini and a cabernet paired with chardonnay. Guests can order two-ounce pours and enjoy live DJs on certain nights.
On the East Coast, The Sheppard on Mount Pleasant and The Wells on Capitol Hill are popular spots. Both offer hand-crafted cocktails as well as happy hour specials. The Mount Pleasant location has a candlelit space and a handwritten cocktail menu. And the Capitol Hill location is a photo-friendly speakeasy.
Speakeasy fans should also consider Salvation Spirits, a winery and distillery in Shaw. Eventually, the establishment will blend a distillery with a German-style beer hall. Also in Shaw, the 600t is a no-frills bar that relies on word-of-mouth to draw guests.
Lastly, consider Serenata in La Cosecha Market. They have a variety of Latin-inspired drinks and a mobile Spritz bar. Additionally, the establishment features an impressive vinyl collection and DJs on selected nights. Besides cocktails, you can order a selection of Latin-influenced food as well.