Fancy a drink in one of Britain’s sexiest and most secretive locations? Then look no further than our guide to the UK’s best speakeasies. Whether you’re looking for jazz in Leeds or vintage vibes in Manchester, we’ve got a bar for you to try.
Evans & Peel Detective Agency, London
This Earl’s Court bar masquerades as a detective agency online. If you want to reserve a space, you must submit a ‘case’ which the detective (aka doorman) will question you about on arrival. Anyone who is into theatre will feel right at home in this stylish 1920s location. Indulge in one of the many cocktails on the menu and you’ll feel like you are in a different world.
Berry and Rye, Liverpool
Berry & Rye is a prohibition era themed bar specialising in whiskey, blues, jazz and gin. It might take you a while to you find the bar itself and once you’ve located it, there are even more things to search for. The drinks menus for instance are hidden away in bibles. Anyone who is up for a little detective work in their free time should make their way to this stunning 1930s Chicago-style bar hidden behind the anonymous door of a blacked-out shop – it’ll be worth it.
Red Light, Bristol
This retro drinking den serves classic cocktails and benefits from extremely attentive and stylish bartenders (everyone here wears old-school braces). Red Light is hidden behind graffiti-style doors (maybe Banksy was here, too?) and even its website is intentionally difficult to find, so interest levels amongst the hip kids are kept at an all-time high.
The Domino Club, Leeds
The Domino Club is the go-to place for live jazz music in Leeds. Only a small neon sign marks its existence – no wonder it has earned itself a place on the Difford’s Guide list of the world’s best-hidden bars. It charms guests with a Victorian twist on timeless décor: parquet flooring, leather booths and a handmade brass-topped bar as well as artwork from well-known artists like Vivian Maier and Martin Parr. The bar’s hand-picked wine list, which is carefully updated every three months, really steals the show. Every week, The Domino Club buy a rare bottle of liquor and sell it at cost price – win win!
The Washhouse, Manchester
It might look like any other launderette, but for those in the know, this is one of Manchester’s top spots for creative cocktails. Booking is essential so call ahead and then make your way past the washing machines into the dimly lit drinking den. The drinks are quirky and potent, sometimes served in teacups and terrariums with edible garnishes.
Panda & Sons, Edinburgh
Panda & Sons located in Edinburgh’s New Town is a concept bar for cocktail connoisseurs. From the outside, the establishment presents itself as an American barber’s shop. Inside, charming wood panelling, panda imagery, a bookshelf that doubles as a door and eccentric ornaments invite guests into an old-fashioned fantasy world. We recommend trying their legendary cocktails such as Money Talks, Miss American Rye or Petal to the Ketel. If you’re feeling a little peckish, enjoy the bar’s cold meat or cheese boards.
Note: This post has been edited to remove The Fitzgerald in Manchester which has sadly closed.
This is a guest post from freelance journalist Beatrice Clark. She has written for Vogue, Glamour and Vanity Fair, among others, and has spent the past 15 years living in France, England and Scotland. She is currently based in Berlin and is always on the hunt for the perfect Eggs Benedict.