The Hidden Gems of Chicago: Pubs with a Speakeasy Vibe

Explore the history and revival of speakeasies in Chicago and discover some hidden gems that offer a unique and nostalgic experience with their speakeasy vibe.

The Hidden Gems of Chicago: Pubs with a Speakeasy Vibe

As an expert in the Chicago nightlife scene, I have had the pleasure of exploring the diverse bar options in the Windy City. From rooftop bars to sports bars, there is no shortage of places to grab a drink and have a good time. However, for those looking for a unique and nostalgic experience, there are a few pubs in Chicago that offer a speakeasy vibe.

The History of Speakeasies in Chicago

In the 1920s, the United States went through a period known as Prohibition, where the sale and consumption of alcohol were illegal. This gave rise to secret establishments known as speakeasies, and Chicago was at the forefront of this underground culture.

It is estimated that there were around 10,000 illegal bars operating in the city during this time. These hidden bars were often located in basements or back rooms of legitimate businesses and required a secret password or knock to gain entry. But speakeasies were not just places to drink; they also served as social gathering spots where people could dance, listen to live music, and enjoy each other's company. They became synonymous with rebellion and the underground culture of the 1920s.

The Revival of Speakeasies in Chicago

Although Prohibition ended in 1933, the speakeasy culture never truly died out in Chicago. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of these hidden bars, with many establishments paying homage to their history and offering a speakeasy vibe.These modern-day speakeasies often have a vintage feel, with dim lighting, exposed brick walls, and classic cocktails on the menu.

They also maintain the secrecy aspect by requiring reservations or having unmarked entrances.

Pubs in Chicago with a Speakeasy Vibe

Now that you know the history and revival of speakeasies in Chicago, let's explore some pubs in the city that offer this unique atmosphere.

The Violet Hour

The Violet Hour is a popular speakeasy-style bar located in the Wicker Park neighborhood. It is known for its craft cocktails and intimate setting, with plush velvet seating and a candlelit ambiance. The entrance is marked only by a single violet light, adding to the secretive nature of the bar. The menu at The Violet Hour changes seasonally, but you can always expect creative and delicious drinks made with high-quality ingredients. They also offer a small selection of bar bites to accompany your drinks.

The Drifter

Located in the basement of the Green Door Tavern, The Drifter is a speakeasy that pays tribute to its history as a former Prohibition-era speakeasy.

The entrance is hidden behind a bookshelf, and once inside, you'll find yourself transported back in time with vintage decor and live jazz music. The Drifter has an extensive cocktail menu, including their signature drink, The Drifter Old Fashioned. They also offer a rotating selection of small plates and snacks to enjoy while sipping on your drink.

The Office

Another hidden gem within a bar is The Office, located inside The Aviary in the West Loop. This speakeasy-style bar is known for its upscale atmosphere and impeccable service. The entrance is unmarked, and reservations are required to gain access. The Office offers an extensive selection of rare and vintage spirits, making it a must-visit for any whiskey or cocktail connoisseur.

They also have a small menu of elevated bar bites to pair with your drinks.

The Backroom

Located in the heart of River North, The Backroom is a speakeasy-style bar that takes you back to the 1920s with its vintage decor and live jazz music. The entrance is hidden behind a faux storefront, and once inside, you'll feel like you've stepped into a different era. The Backroom offers a variety of classic cocktails, as well as their own unique creations. They also have a small food menu featuring dishes inspired by the Prohibition era.


While Chicago has no shortage of bars and pubs, these speakeasy-style establishments offer a unique and nostalgic experience. From hidden entrances to vintage decor and classic cocktails, these hidden gems in Chicago will transport you back in time to the Prohibition era.

So next time you're planning a night out in the city, consider adding one of these speakeasies to your list.

Erica Salas
Erica Salas

Amateur music aficionado. Total tv enthusiast. Typical zombie practitioner. Devoted twitter fanatic. Amateur music buff. Avid bacon buff.