At Hawkins we like nothing better than kicking back with our friends and enjoying a good tipple. And what better than enjoying a drink at a venue you have to locate in a cloak and dagger style. We're talking about secret bars or speakeasies as they're historically known. These bars date back to the 1920s, a time of prohibition when alcohol was banned in the US (sad times). This ban lead to many secret drinking establishments springing up and a lot of home brewing, think lethal moonshine or WKD as it's now known. Taking inspiration from the Prohibition era, the UK is brimming with elusive bars, hidden behind unmarked doors and unassuming entrances. Here are five for you to try:
Nightjar - Shoreditch
This is the real deal. An actual bona fide speakeasy. This is the bar that all the others look up to. The address should lead you to a wooden door sat between two coffee shops. Head inside, and down the staircase and you'll find yourself in a dimly light, mirrored bar, that transports you back to the pre-prohibition era. You can sip your drinks while listening to soothing jazz (nice) and swing, with live bands playing later in the evening. As with most of these venues booking is strictly online, which kind of takes away the magic of finding a place like this but hey, we can’t complain.
Hausbar - Bristol
The brainchild of Aurelius Braunbath (what a name!) inspired by some of Berlin’s quirky watering holes. Hidden underneath an Indian restaurant (not usually where you'd head for a night out) you have to ring a doorbell to gain access upon which you'll find yourself in a small, kitsch, dimly lit bar. Their extensive range of cocktails will keep you busy while you perch at the bar and watch the bartenders at work.
Dusk Til Pawn - Manchester
You could easily walk straight past this venue. Outside suggests a run down pawn shop, with neon signs and offers to buy and sell gold. But step inside and you'll find a well stocked bar, heavy seats, a lot of wood and a juke box playing classics. This place shines when it comes to the cocktails, with it's extensive bourbon and whiskey collection. If you can't find what you're after, get the bartenders to create something for you.
Downstairs – Birmingham
This is a relatively new bar located in Birmingham's jewellery quarter. You access by entering a coffee shop and heading down a stairway into the underground bar. There you'll find a cosy, high end cocktail bar with chandeliers and old school armchairs. You have to book ahead but once inside you can enjoy table service and work your way through and bespoke menu complete with a 'pick your poison' bookmark.
Panda and Sons - Edinburgh
You could easily walk past this bar, with it's frontage suggesting a barber shop. But step inside, head over to a bookcase, find the right book to open the door and step inside this dimly lit basement bar. Once in (assuming you found the right book) you'll find a quirky world of gramophones, more old books and panda themed art work. This place serves some great cocktails, theatrically presented in a glass domes, with free popcorn to keep you satisfied.