Words: Lucy Conors
The mythical New York speakeasy emerged during the 1920s prohibition era, and they have since made a resurgence and for good reason. The London underground speakeasy scene in the city is thriving because the glamour and decadence, once associated with the original underground bars, has endured. These London bars are speakeasies reborn and reimagined, all are unique in personality and design, making them each worth a visit – if you can find your way in…
Introducing Our Favourite London Speakeasy Bars
The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town
This basement bar is situated beneath the Breakfast Club in Spitalfields, entry is through the fridge in the restaurant – but you’ll need to request an appearance with The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town before you can find your way in. This intimate space offers a menu of unique cocktails – which poke fun at more pretentious institutions – and offers a playlist so good we actually asked them for it. The blend of jazz bar and modern drinks is a perfect mix, and makes you feel like you’re truly somewhere hidden away.
Lost Property Office
This new speakeasy is launched by ‘The Cocktail Guy’ behind cult favourites SUSHISAMBA and Duck and Waffle and it does not disappoint. Accessible by heading upstairs in BrewDog Waterloo and picking up the phone, this intimate and classic space showcases creativity and unique flavour pairings. A ‘Martini Roulette’ is their signature experience, and their weekly specials are experimental and unexpected. Their new cocktail menu launches in the new year, so make sure you get to taste their current one before it leaves.
Taking its name from an old American code, this Soho bar is one of the best. Located above Social Eating House, to get inside you will need to find an unmarked door featuring a blindfolded pig doorknocker. Their cocktails offer unique twists on classics, without feeling like unnecessary additions – take the Aztec Negroni for example, with its additions of Shiso Leaf and Raspberry creates something truly special. The low-lit bar feels antique with its mirrors and décor, and it has a relaxed air of secrecy which it would be easy to bask in all night.
Evans and Peel Detective Agency
Hidden behind the bookcase, this speakeasy embraces the theatrical and stays faithful to its concept – being a private detective’s office. You’ll need ‘an appointment with the detective’ and a reason for requiring his help before you’re granted access to the basement bar, so suspend self-consciousness and have fun with it. Riffing on classic cocktails, and serving champagne from paper bags, the drinks are great, and once you’re inside the theming is toned down rather than becoming overdone providing a comfortable ambiance and atmosphere.
For a truly vintage experience and to feel the opulence of old-school glamour, head to Nightjar. The live jazz music that graces the bar from 9pm every evening emphasises how this Shoreditch bar embodies the Roaring Twenties wholeheartedly. Their cocktails are split into three periods; Pre-Prohibition, Prohibition, and Post War, and are fantastically ambitious and cleverly crafted. Book ahead and keep a close eye out for the anonymous wooden door to ensure a successful evening.