Europe’s best speakeasy bars

by Mary Del Rosario
Stripes Europe

What’s marked as prohibited, in a secret location and serves delicious drinks that will make for a memorable night? The answer is a speakeasy. These unlicensed establishments dating back to 1890 during the Prohibition era served alcoholic beverages although it was illegal at the time. Though considered as contraband, bootleggers would find a way to sneak liquor and beer to their consumers. Some speakeasies were similar to today’s clubs as there were singing and jazz performances. To enter such a place, a password was needed to prevent undercover agents from gaining access.

To unlock the key to these five speakeasy bars in Europe, you must “speak easy” in order to not draw any attention.

The Butcher- Amsterdam

In Amsterdam’s trendy De Pijip area, you will find Albert Cuyp, which is not only home to the popular street market, but also to a secret delight known as the Butcher. From the outside, this restaurant seems like an average burger bar serving burgers and shakes. However, walk behind the restaurant, push the buzzer that leads you through a silver door and you’ll learn to not judge a book by its cover. The Butcher not only serves tasty burgers but delivers an unforgettable bar experience.

Upon entering, a hostess will lead you to their black velvet couches where you can choose from an array of alcoholic drinks. Though only 100 guests can enter at a time, this intimate atmosphere is needed for that forbidden feeling. A carefully selected mixture of music, delicious cocktails and an elegant setting make this speakeasy bar worth visiting. Be sure to pack swanky clothing! The crowd is stylish and elegant, like this bar. Note that you’ll need a reservation beforehand.  

Location: 129 Albert Cuypstraat

The Jerry Thomas Project- Rome

Look closely at The Jerry Thomas Project’s website and find a simple hidden question on the homepage. If you can answer it, congratulations! You’ve now earned your way into this speakeasy-style bar.

In this friendly bar, celebrate in libations with carefully concocted drinks made by talented bartenders. The owners wanted to create a bar with “Italian hospitality” and what emerged was a cozy, well raved, 1920-style speakeasy.

As the list of rules is extensive, be sure to visit their website and familiarize yourself with their policy before entering. As they do not accept cards, take out euros beforehand. Make your experience enjoyable and reserve in advance.  

Location: 30 Vicolo Cellini

Callooh Callay- London

Imagine menus in the form of paint swatches and playing cards. At Callooh Callay in London, anything goes as the sky is the limit in terms of creativity. This retro and quirky Lewis Carroll-themed bar will make you feel as if you’ve stepped down a rabbit hole and into bar heaven. However, instead of a rabbit hole, you are lead to the bar through an old wardrobe! Their creative menus and cocktails are so superior that they’ve earned themselves the reputation of being the “best International high-volume cocktail bar.” Unsure about what to drink? Ask their friendly and knowledgeable staff as they will pick out the perfect choice.

With a seating area in the form of a bathtub cut in half, a disco ball, cassette tapes plastering the bathroom wall and an everchanging menu display, who wouldn’t want to enjoy the night away in this wonderland?

Location: 65 Rivington Street

Moonshiner- Paris

While on your Parisian getaway, head to Da Vito for tasty Italian food. After your stomach is happy, walk to the back of the restaurant for a fun surprise. Waiting for you will be a world of the roaring ‘20s at this Prohibition-themed bar. Though small, this bar is known for not only its intriguing entrance but also their impressive drink menu served in mason jars and flasks. Eager to get your hands on a prize? Keep your eyes open for a locked safe. If you can correctly guess the combination, you’ll win a little something.

Location: 5 rue Sedaine 11e Arrondissement 

HR Giger Bar - Switzerland

Step inside the world of sci-fi and leave the 1920 paraphernalia at the door before entering this alien inspired bar. In the St. Germain Castle is the H.R. Giger Museum, which showcases artwork relating to the 1979 film “Alien.” Giger is the visual mastermind who created the visual effects for this film.

Next to this museum, though hidden, be prepared to feel as if you’re being taken into an alien’s lair. The walls are held up by alien-like vertebrae and give this hidden spot the title of being Gruyères’ best-kept secret. The wall of crying babies also contributes to this eerie, yet fascinating bar. Sit on a throne that’s decked out in bones as you sip on one of their signature cocktails as you wonder what world you just stepped in.

Location: 3 Rue du Château St. Germain. Note that there are two Giger bars. The bar located in Gruyères, Switzerland is the one to enter into your GPS. 

Whether you want to feed your curiosity or are looking for something different from the average bar scene, these speakeasy bars in Europe will tempt the rebellious side in you. Be sure not to forget the password!  

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