Once upon a time, America banned the consumption of alcohol. Needless to say, this resulted in a lot of erratic behaviour, like people making whisky in their bathtubs. Having said that, it also resulted in the birth of the speakeasy; an illicit establishment selling booze to the public. Believe it or not, the UK has its own collection of speakeasies, and we got in contact with DesignMyNight to give us their top 10...
Purl - London
Strictly sticking to all things 19th century, Purl near Bond Street plucked its name from a well-known drink that was once secretly sold on the streets of London. Regarded as one of London’s top speakeasies, this classy joint has a broody atmosphere and a bookings only policy, giving your drinking experience an air of exclusivity. Their plush 1920’s interior and seasonal cocktail menu are guaranteed to have you strutting back time, and time again.
Basement Sate - London
If there’s one thing we love more than cocktails, its dessert. And we happen to know a place where you can get both. Located down Broadwick Street in Soho you’ll notice a glistening red door bearing no major signage, but don’t be fooled by its discreteness. Traipse down the steep stairs and you’ll find Basement Sate; a place of darkened corners and Chesterfield sofas. Make sure to make your way through their splendid selection of cocktails, but more importantly - grab a fork and dig into their peanut butter and Oreo cake, it’s a little slice of heaven.
Nightjar - London
Naturally, no speakeasy list is complete without mentioning Nightjar, one of the world’s best bars. Bringing a slice of 1920’s suave to east London, expect candlelit tables, live jazz performances and some of the best cocktails to grace the world. Resting behind a heavy set of oak doors on Old Street, you could easily walk by this place a million times and never actually lock eyes with its unassuming entrance. Next time you’re in the area, keep your eyes peeled.
The Bootlegger - London
Known as one of the newer speakeasies on the block, The Bootlegger has successfully brought an authentic dose of 1920’s America to London. Stripped back rickety floorboards, vintage stools and retro prints will whisk you back to the days of (gasp) no alcohol, all while a sweet line-up of talented jazz acts reel in a cracking crowd from Monday to Friday.
Read More: The Best Late Night Bars In London To Hit Up This Weekend
The Candlelight Club - London
Refusing to ever settle down, The Candlelight Club are constantly on the move. This lot are known for setting up shop in some of London’s most beautiful spaces, meaning unforgettable and unpredictable nights of debauchery. Popping up anywhere and everywhere, this travelling speakeasy bar’s atmosphere is set by hundreds of flickering wax candles and smooth jazz performances. It’s a completely immersive experience, meaning 1920’s attire is encouraged.
Ruby’s - London
You know that big white cinema sign on Stoke Newington Road in Dalston? That place isn’t a cinema at all, it’s actually a front for Ruby’s Bar and Lounge. You didn’t hear it from us, okay? Making its home in an old Chinese takeaway, this intimate drinking den is characterised by tasselled lampshades, a mish-mash of furniture and striped paint walls. Their cocktail menu is exceptional with both classics and signatures fighting for your undivided attention.
Worship Street Whistling Shop - London
Worship Street Whistling Shop is a Victorian gin palace meets 1920’s speakeasy right in the heart of Marylebone. Experimental cocktails are at the heart of this bar’s agenda so don’t be too shocked when you discover you’re not familiar with a lot (okay, the majority) of the listed ingredients. Located in a basement, you’ll have to travel down a quiet street and away from prying eyes to reach their boozy oasis.
Berry and Rye - Liverpool
Behind an average looking black door near Liverpool’s Chinatown lies an anything but average speakeasy called Berry and Rye. Potent cocktails and high percentage whiskies are the name of the game at this intimate lair, but be prepared to knock on a couple of wrong doors to make your way inside (it’s expertly hidden). Testament to the saying ‘never judge a book by its cover’, you’ll find the venue’s menu disguised deep in the pages of vintage books, which is just one of the many quirks that make this place so goddamn loveable.
Suds and Duds - Birmingham
Suds and Duds might seem like your run of the mil Birmingham launderette, but all is not as it seems. Step past their signage and make your way inside to find no washing machines or half-full Comfort bottles, but a quirky bar with crazy interiors. They serve kooky cocktails, like the Netflix and Chill, amongst a couple of well-known classics. Pina Colada anyone? So, leave your dirty laundry at home and wash away your weekday worries with a boozy tipple instead.
Read More: 7 Of The Best Espresso Martinis In London
BYOC - Brighton
What would you say if we told you that there’s a bar in Brighton that doesn’t serve alcohol? Well there is one; and it’s called BYOC (which, if you haven’t guessed, stands for Bring Your Own Cocktail). This lively joint is located in a secret basement that boasts exposed brick work and a smattering of dark mahogany tables. £25 will get you into this clandestine joint and all you have to do is bring a bottle of your favourite poison, kick-back and enjoy two hours of unlimited cocktail shaking with your all-time favourite spirit.
The Fitzgerald - Manchester
If you’re after a bit of Gatsby glamour, look no further than The Fitzgerald. Locate its back street entrance, sink into one of the many velvet couches and make your way through the carefully curated drinks menu. We recommend going for the Side Car, after all, in the years of the prohibition it was Al Capone’s favourite drink. Alongside drinks being served in authentic 1920’s glassware, it’s little touches like the black and white framed photographs and crystal chandeliers that make this joint such a unique gem.