We can thank the 1920s for several things: swing dancing, silent movies, Mickey Mouse, and, of course, the speakeasy.
The speakeasy was originally created in response to a need: During Prohibition (1920–1933), when alcohol was illegal in the United States, speakeasies offered under-the-radar destinations for revelers seeking illicit beverages. Although these businesses were technically illegal, they were patronized by a large portion of society—especially in larger cities like New York.
As a premiere cultural hub of their time period, speakeasies were known for bringing people together—especially people of different genders, races, and social classes—and helping cultivate the let-loose-and-let-live vibe of the Roaring ’20s. Though we no longer live in a Prohibition era (can we get a hallelujah?!), the collaborative, welcoming, and, of course, rule-breaking atmosphere of traditional speakeasies has carried over to their modern counterparts.
Today, speakeasy-style bars, marked by hidden entrances, secret passwords, and low-lit spaces, are enjoying a renaissance across the nation. In cities such as L.A., New York, and San Francisco, new lounges are capitalizing on both the exclusivity and the party-hard reputation of 1920s speakeasies. Here are five of our favorites.[[[slideshow_id#215]]]