Prohibition Era Throwbacks: 5 Speakeasies In London To Hit Up

Experience the thrill of a bygone era with London's best-kept secret—a clandestine 1920s speakeasy with Prohibition-style vibes
Most speakeasy bars have secret entrances
Most speakeasy bars have secret entrances @thetenbellse1 /Instagram

During the Prohibition era in America, the sale of liquor was banned, and speakeasies were illegal establishments that sold alcoholic beverages. These places were often referred to as "blind pig" or "blind tiger" and were associated with the years between 1920 and 1933 in the United States. At the height of Prohibition in the late 1920s, there were over 30,000 speakeasies in New York alone. If you want to see what we are talking about, check out iconic films like "Some Like It Hot" (1959), where a speakeasy gets raided, and "Once Upon a Time in America (1984)." Access to speakeasies during Prohibition was restricted and required a secret password or some complicated knocks. In some cases, stamped tickets could also serve as an entry. Membership cards were a standard means of access in New York City.

An assortment of membership cards for speakeasies in New York City
An assortment of membership cards for speakeasies in New York City @museumofcityny/Instagram

The term "speakeasy" was most likely coined to remind people to speak quietly so as not to alert the police to their location. Today, speakeasy-style bars are becoming popular again, driven by nostalgia for the past. These bars aim to recreate the atmosphere and glamour of the 1920s through their decor and cocktail menus. If you're in London, you can visit several speakeasies to experience a night out in retro style, but do don your best 1920s flapper dress and channel the Great Gatsby vibe. Here are five speakeasies in London to bookmark.


The secret speakeasy cocktail lounge is sure to transport you to another world
The secret speakeasy cocktail lounge is sure to transport you to another world@lafayettelondon /Instagram

The Southern-style cocktail bar is the perfect place to sip on a delicious drink and relax in an atmosphere reminiscent of a Prohibition-era drinking den. This lavish establishment is nestled under the tunnels of King's Cross. As you enter the venue, you'll be awestruck by the spaciousness of the main room. The secret speakeasy cocktail lounge, complete with a Louisiana-style courtyard and balcony, is sure to transport you to another world. The old-time saloon bar adds to the charm and nostalgic feel of the place.

Address: 11 Goods Way, London N1C 4DP, UK

The Candlelight Club

Dress up in your best flapper dresses
Dress up in your best flapper dresses@candlelightclub /Instagram

This isn't a bar with a fixed address but a pop-up ticketed event that is held at various secret locations in London. With cocktails, fine dining, cabaret and live jazz music, you will be transported back to the Prohibition era and enjoy an unforgettable night out. The venue is illuminated entirely by candles, adding to the mystique and charm of the era. Don't miss out on the opportunity to dress up in your finest 1920s attire and join London's secret 1920s party.

The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town

Here to see the mayor
Here to see the mayor@dasha_dash89 /Instagram

Nestled below The Breakfast Club Spitalfields, lies a hidden gem known as The Mayor Of Scaredy Cat Town. The bar which has been awarded London Bar Of The Year twice and boasts a reputation for serving exceptional cocktails. What sets this establishment apart is its unique entrance. To gain access to the bar, one must step through a Smeg fridge door, transporting you into a world of clandestine drinking and intimate ambiance. To enter, simply tell the staff that you're "here to see the Mayor." Throw in a wink.

Address: 12-16 Artillery Ln, London E1 7LS, United Kingdom

The Ten Bells

The Ten Bells has been around for ages
The Ten Bells has been around for ages@thetenbellse1/Instagram

This tiny bar located in London has a long history dating back to the 18th century. It exudes a speakeasy vibes, featuring a hidden cocktail lounge above the main bar. Access to this secret spot is through a back staircase. Inside, you'll find Chesterfield sofas and elegant woodwork that adorn the space. At one point, the bar had a Jack the Ripper theme, which is reflected in an original mural and tile work that is still around.

Address: 84 Commercial St, London E1 6LY, United Kingdom

Cellar Door

Experience an exciting night of cabaret, drag performances, and burlesque at this speakeasy bar that combines the 1930s Berlin vibe with a New York basement dive. The bar is located underneath One Aldwych, and the entrance was originally a public toilet. Despite its small size, it packs a powerful punch with its amazing events that you definitely don't want to miss. The bar regularly hosts drag queen performances, cabaret nights, burlesque shows, live music, and even turns into a cinema.

Address: Zero Aldwych, Wellington Street, WC2E 7DN

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