Let's go back. Speakeasies were a necessary staple of the Prohibition era. That time is long gone, but speakeasy bars are still alive and thriving. And there’s something to be said about figuring out a password and searching for the entrance. It’s like a scavenger hunt, where the prize is a heavenly cocktail and stellar ambiance. Not to mention, Phoenicians do need a place to beat the summer heat. With that, here are 11 speakeasy lounges for you to channel the Roaring '20s and cool off on tufted leather couches.
Pigtails Cocktail Bar
21001 North Tatum Boulevard, #46-1405
Discreetly neighboring its sister concept, The Whining Pig, Pigtails Cocktail Bar caters to craft drink fans in an elegant setting. Opened in February 2019, the low-hanging light fixtures, exclusive shiplap walls with copper accents, and excessive plants create a relaxed and oxygenated environment for sipping your favorite spirits. Once you’re in the Desert Ridge Marketplace, go across the way from Dave and Buster’s. You don’t need a password, and you get to exit from a secret, bookshelf door. Hours are 4 p.m. to midnight, Tuesday through Thursday; 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, 1 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday; and 1 to 10 p.m. Sunday.
50 East Adams Street
Sipping on cocktails at Melinda’s Alley is like hanging out in your grandma’s attic, but without the cobwebs. In the basement of the Renaissance Hotel, Melinda's lures trendy patrons, whether they're celebrating or looking for a more tranquil setting. The lounge is filled with vintage furniture, while the lighting is dim with a crimson hue.
The cocktail menu seen one weekend will not be the same on your next visit. The mixologists trade menu responsibilities every weekend. Bartendress Tracy Chaves says for her turn, she starts prepping two weeks ahead to break customers out of their mold and encourage patrons to savor a one-night-only cocktail. It's not uncommon for Melinda's to reach maximum capacity, so try to time your visit right. Find the entrance in an alleyway on the east side of Central Avenue, between Adams Street and Monroe Street. No password is required, but looking for the bathroom is a comical adventure. Hours are 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
718 North Central Avenue
Calling all witches and satanists — if you're looking for a speakeasy, Sanctum will make you feel right at home. Framed art pieces are an homage to Aleister Crowley, and artifacts of the occult are on display throughout the lounge. And there is plenty of velvet and absinthe to go around. But even if you're not into witchy stuff, the calming atmosphere and resident mixologist Nick Boehme are particularly inviting.
Boehme has been crafting cocktails since 1998, and specifically for Sanctum since 2017. He says his drinks are created to start your night, not end it. Expect a steep cover charge, but it will pay for your first drink — and there is a two-drink minimum. The entrance is located on the second story of The Grand, and you can get the password from the manager behind the coffee bar. There is also a dress code, so leave yesterday's T-shirt and dirty sneaks at home. Hours are 9 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.
The White Rabbit Bar
207 North Gilbert Road, Gilbert
Be ready for a time warp. Just beyond the entrance, you're led down a dim hallway. You soon reach a bookcase. There is a small white rabbit staring back at you, and once it's pulled, you fall down the rabbit hole (metaphorically, of course).
The ambiance of The White Rabbit Bar directly reflects the Prohibition era, with a dash of charm and luxury. Bartenders and servers dress the part. On some nights, there is live jazz music. The vintage portraits you see on the wall have been passed down by the community. You'll also need a password. You can get it by joining their mailing list, or if you decided to grab dinner in downtown Gilbert beforehand, your server may help you out.
To find the entrance, look for a doorman atop of descending staircase. Once you take a seat, pick out a cocktail from the menu, or have the bartender's specialty. Choose your spirit, and they do the rest. Hours are 5 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday.
10 North San Marcos Place, Chandler
If you like Old-Fashioneds, you're in for a treat. Bartenders at The Ostrich make them tableside. The subterranean Ostrich used to be a storage room for ostrich feathers in the early 1900s and is now a vintage-inspired speakeasy concept named after the basement's former use. It's located below Crust, an Italian restaurant at the Crowne Plaza San Marcos Resort.
Once you've found the wooden door, you're in. Antique mugshots, barrels, books, and a life-sized ostrich decorate the establishment. Bar stools, hightop tables, and leather booths can fit nearly 100 customers. Along with craft cocktails, it serves draft beer and food. Hours are 6 p.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Honor Amongst Thieves5538 North Seventh Street, #100
Honor Amongst Thieves transports its patrons to the 1950s and '60s with its posh decor and wooden bar and ceilings. Its menu cover reads “onore tra i ladri H.A.T.”; onore tra i ladri is a crime fiction book by Elle Pepper that dissects the meaning of honor and how it applies to life. Once you’ve stepped into the lounge (located behind its sister restaurant Stock & Stable at The Colony), you are served a pour of amaro on the house.
Once the amaro has settled in, you can keep the fire burning with one of the flaming drinks. The Still Smokin' features Yuu Baal Mezcal, Velvet Falernum, green Chartreuse, lime, and smoked rosemary. There are also special offerings each day of the week, like top-shelf discounts on Thursday, and secret menu items on Wednesday. Hours are 6 p.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
1001 North Third Avenue, #1
The Onyx is Rott N’ Grapes' secret hideaway for customers getting cozy in an intimate, yet industrial, setting. Steel ceilings and concrete walls give the establishment an edge, but comfy couches and candlelit tables soften the atmosphere. A small screen plays old-school flicks, recognizable orchestral music fills the room, and abstract art hangs on the walls.
Reservations are recommended, but walk-ins are welcome on a first-come, first-served basis. The dress code is classy casual, and you'll need to check in with one of the Rott N’ Grapes staff members to be escorted to the lounge. Monday is trivia night, and Tuesday is for stand-up comedy. And P.S. — pay no attention to your cellphone. You most likely won’t have service down there.
The Mystery Room at the Arizona Biltmore2400 East Missouri Avenue
The Mystery Room at the Arizona Biltmore is a renovation of the original speakeasy that operated in the resort when it opened in 1929. It used to be called the Men's Smoking Room. Back then, the liquor cabinet was disguised as a bookshelf, and there was a spotlight to target patrol cars. While that’s not entirely necessary today, the Mystery Room still boasts the same vibe of the Roaring '20s.
The architecture is classic Flank Lloyd Wright, the bartender dresses the part, the music reflects the era, and a password is absolutely necessary. However, it's not that easy to come across. It changes weekly, and clues can be found on the resort's various social media platforms. If you think you've got it, share with the concierge in the lobby and they'll give you directions to the entrance. Don't bother knocking, either. Walk right in. Hours are 8 to 11 p.m. on Sundays.
Kazimierz Wine & Whiskey Bar
7137 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale
What's it like to wine and dine in a posh wine cellar? Try Kazimierz Wine & Whiskey Bar. It's not actually a wine cellar but does resemble one. Its walls are a combination of brick and stained glass, and the lighting is faint, with scattered candles. The lounge reopened its doors in late January 2019 under new management after a sudden closure in October 2018.
Its new whiskey agenda adds another layer to its offerings, parallel to an extensive wine list. Live Latin or jazz music can be expected on most nights. More likely than not, your server or bartender is a certified sommelier. If you live in the world of wine, this may be your place to talk shop. No password is necessary, but there may be a $5 cover charge for the band. The backdoor entrance can be found off of Sixth Avenue and Stetson Drive. Hours are 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Sunday.
2525 East Camelback Road, #120
The Valley's MercBar is a spinoff of the original MercBar in New York City, established in 1993 by John McDonald. Although the NYC location is no longer in operation, the Phoenix location is thriving. If romance is in the air, MercBar will complement your vibe. Dressing to impress is recommended. Its wooden walls, dusky lighting, and fellow swanky drinkers will have you sipping in class.
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The lounge doesn’t require any negotiating to get in — just a bit of searching. Once you’re in the Esplanade, keep your eyes peeled for a golden plaque. The door next to it will lead you into MercBar. Have a seat and savor one of its deluxe cocktails with a meat and cheese board. Hours are 4 p.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
335 North Gilbert Road, #103, Gilbert
For all the book fandom folks out there, this one’s for you. The Novelist is a bar and restaurant inside of O.H.S.O in downtown Gilbert that not only honors the concept of delicious food and drinks, but storytelling. Imagine a classic library turned contemporary kitchen. It extends its gratitude to famous authors, like Mary Shelley of Frankenstein and J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter, through artwork and cocktails.
The Goblet of Fire includes mezcal, muddled jalapeño, and elderflower liqueur, while the Moby Dick features D.i.C.K Whiskey, Ancho Reyes, Iconic Ginga, lemon juice, and Murphy-Goode Cabernet. To have a seat in one of their pristine leather booths, find the wall of kegs showered in blue light. Hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. However, its late-night hours are 10 p.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday.