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The back bar at Chicken and Whiskey.
The back bar at Chicken and Whiskey.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

13 Essential Speakeasies Around D.C.

The secret's out

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The back bar at Chicken and Whiskey.
| Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

While Prohibition is long gone and there are bars aplenty all across the DMV, there's something sexy about heading below ground or behind a cleverly concealed entryway to sip fancy drinks inside lively spaces. Cocktail fans may be familiar with some of the area's longstanding hideaways (The Gibson, PX), but there are a few new spots where one can still enjoy an air of exclusivity.

Updated by Erin Williams

Have another favorite speakeasy in D.C.? Share in the comments below or sound off via email (dc@eater.com).

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Reading Room at Petworth Citizen

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829 Upshur St NW
Washington, D.C. 20011

Bring a book to this weekend gathering, where bartender Chantal Tseng creates beverages inspired by featured authors and literary themes. Recent offerings include the sherry-, vermouth-, and orange oil-laced Alfonsa’s Manipulation inspired by Cormac McCarthy’s The Border Trilogy, and Sal’s Aunt, a gin-fueled tipple inspired by Jack Kerouac’s On The Road.

Petworth Citizen DC literary cocktails Literature and libations meet at the Reading Room. Photo: Petworth Citizen

2. Dram and Grain

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2007 18th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
(202) 607-1572
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Some walk-in traffic is welcome on Wednesdays and Thursdays (first come, first serve), but the best way to claim one of the 20 seats at Jack Rose's underground cocktail haven is to work the phones (202-607-1572) and book a reservation. Each seating time is limited to two-and-a-half hours.

Dram and Grain DC bar The bar at Dram at Grain. Photo: Dram and Grain

3. The Gibson

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2009 14th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20003
(202) 232-2156
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From the outside, this low-key establishment doesn’t seem to exist as there’s no clear signage to lead the way. Once inside, the space is warm and hospitable with a wide range of cocktails sporting names like “Boi Bye” and “The Man I Forgot I Loved.”

Photo: The Gibson

4. Backroom at Capo Deli

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715 Florida Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
(202) 827-8012
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See a bright red light above the door to a faux walk-in freezer at Capo Deli? That means the invite-only Backroom bar is doing its thing. Food orders are filled by the companion deli, while cocktail offerings include signature offerings such as the coffee liqueur-, melon- and brown sugar-fueled Blue Mountain Bell.

Capo Deli DC freezer door When the red light is on, the Backroom bar is open. Photo by Kim T. / Yelp

5. Left Door

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1345 S St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

Even those familiar with Logan Circle may have missed this sliver-sized bar specializing in cocktails such as the "Lola Sour" (campari, tequila, volcanic sea salt), and "Release the Kraken!" (tequila, lemon, honey).

Left Door DC bar The bar at Left Door. Photo by John A. / Yelp

6. Chicken and Whiskey

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1738 14th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
(202) 667-2456
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“Hidden” behind a fake freezer door, customers can enjoy one of the many choice whiskies served inside the 50 person bar after 5 p.m. Prices range from $7 for a pour of Evan Williams Black to $28 for a Glen Scotia Victoriana single malt.

Chicken and Whiskey DC bar The bar at Chicken and Whiskey. Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

7. The Sheppard

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1337 Connecticut Ave NW Fl 2
Washington, D.C. 20036
(202) 744-4253
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This speakeasy is named after late Texas Sen. Morris Sheppard, who authored the law banning alcohol in the nation’s capital. There's no need for reservations for the 35-seat space, but large parties are advised to call ahead. In order to find the space, simply walk into the lobby and take the elevator up to the second level.

Photo: The Sheppard

8. The Alex

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1075 Thomas Jefferson St NW
Washington, D.C. 20007
(855) 341-1292
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Hidden beneath Georgetown’s Graham hotel, this swanky enclosure is only accessible by a typed code, given to guests upon arriving for their reservation. Live jazz fills the air on weekends, while bartenders whip up drinks including gin-and-tonics served in tiny porcelain bathtubs, sake-vodka coolers, and a cure-all ginger/honey/Scotch concoction dubbed "Penicillin."

Graham DC speakeasy The Alex “cocktail cellar” at the Graham hotel. Photo: The Graham Georgetown

9. Denson Liquor Bar

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600 F St NW
Washington, D.C. 20004
(202) 499-5018
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Across the street from a fire station, one is able to find an old-school cocktail bar tucked away in the lower level of 600 F Street NW. The dimly lit, intimate space offers an array of whiskies and cocktails that are either shaken or stirred. Expect prices at or around $14.It opens at 4:30 p.m.. Monday through Saturday, with a full dinner menu served until 11:30 p.m.; closing times vary.

Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

10. Harold Black

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212 7th St SE
Washington, D.C. 20003
(202) 540-0459
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This 1920s-style speakeasy above Acqua Al 2 in Eastern Market is super hush-hush— drinkers have to know it's there. There's seating for around 30 inside. The menu features light fare like charcuterie and sweets like cheesecake.

Photo by Alan F. / Yelp

11. Elixir Bar

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613 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, D.C. 20003
(202) 543-3622
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Located within Barrel on Capitol Hill, this serious cocktail destination prides itself on being a speakeasy without the hurdles or hassles. Find drinks priced in the $12-$14 range. It opens at 4 p.m. on weekdays and at 10:30 a.m. on weekends.

Photo: Elixir Bar

12. Captain Gregory's

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804 North Henry Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

This Alexandria speakeasy has a hidden entrance inside sister restaurant Sugar Shack Donuts. Find the 24-seat space (hint: the door is covered by wooden paneling) but expect to only be able to stay for a couple of hours. Reservations can be made ahead of time for up to six people on OpenTable; walk-ins often end up on a wait list and are contacted when a table opens up.

Photo: Captain Gregory's
728 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 299-8385
Visit Website

A blue light indicates this iconic Alexandria speakeasy is open for business. Once inside, kick back and allow founder Todd Thrasher and his team of drink gurus to lead a flavorful journey featuring vintage cocktails, seasonal punches, and sparkling surprises. Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are highly recommended.

PX VA bar Inside PX. Photo: PX

1. Reading Room at Petworth Citizen

829 Upshur St NW, Washington, D.C. 20011
Petworth Citizen DC literary cocktails Literature and libations meet at the Reading Room. Photo: Petworth Citizen

Bring a book to this weekend gathering, where bartender Chantal Tseng creates beverages inspired by featured authors and literary themes. Recent offerings include the sherry-, vermouth-, and orange oil-laced Alfonsa’s Manipulation inspired by Cormac McCarthy’s The Border Trilogy, and Sal’s Aunt, a gin-fueled tipple inspired by Jack Kerouac’s On The Road.

829 Upshur St NW
Washington, D.C. 20011

2. Dram and Grain

2007 18th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
Dram and Grain DC bar The bar at Dram at Grain. Photo: Dram and Grain

Some walk-in traffic is welcome on Wednesdays and Thursdays (first come, first serve), but the best way to claim one of the 20 seats at Jack Rose's underground cocktail haven is to work the phones (202-607-1572) and book a reservation. Each seating time is limited to two-and-a-half hours.

2007 18th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

3. The Gibson

2009 14th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20003
Photo: The Gibson

From the outside, this low-key establishment doesn’t seem to exist as there’s no clear signage to lead the way. Once inside, the space is warm and hospitable with a wide range of cocktails sporting names like “Boi Bye” and “The Man I Forgot I Loved.”

2009 14th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20003

4. Backroom at Capo Deli

715 Florida Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20001
Capo Deli DC freezer door When the red light is on, the Backroom bar is open. Photo by Kim T. / Yelp

See a bright red light above the door to a faux walk-in freezer at Capo Deli? That means the invite-only Backroom bar is doing its thing. Food orders are filled by the companion deli, while cocktail offerings include signature offerings such as the coffee liqueur-, melon- and brown sugar-fueled Blue Mountain Bell.

715 Florida Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

5. Left Door

1345 S St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
Left Door DC bar The bar at Left Door. Photo by John A. / Yelp

Even those familiar with Logan Circle may have missed this sliver-sized bar specializing in cocktails such as the "Lola Sour" (campari, tequila, volcanic sea salt), and "Release the Kraken!" (tequila, lemon, honey).

1345 S St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

6. Chicken and Whiskey

1738 14th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
Chicken and Whiskey DC bar The bar at Chicken and Whiskey. Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

“Hidden” behind a fake freezer door, customers can enjoy one of the many choice whiskies served inside the 50 person bar after 5 p.m. Prices range from $7 for a pour of Evan Williams Black to $28 for a Glen Scotia Victoriana single malt.

1738 14th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

7. The Sheppard

1337 Connecticut Ave NW Fl 2, Washington, D.C. 20036
Photo: The Sheppard

This speakeasy is named after late Texas Sen. Morris Sheppard, who authored the law banning alcohol in the nation’s capital. There's no need for reservations for the 35-seat space, but large parties are advised to call ahead. In order to find the space, simply walk into the lobby and take the elevator up to the second level.

1337 Connecticut Ave NW Fl 2
Washington, D.C. 20036

8. The Alex

1075 Thomas Jefferson St NW, Washington, D.C. 20007
Graham DC speakeasy The Alex “cocktail cellar” at the Graham hotel. Photo: The Graham Georgetown

Hidden beneath Georgetown’s Graham hotel, this swanky enclosure is only accessible by a typed code, given to guests upon arriving for their reservation. Live jazz fills the air on weekends, while bartenders whip up drinks including gin-and-tonics served in tiny porcelain bathtubs, sake-vodka coolers, and a cure-all ginger/honey/Scotch concoction dubbed "Penicillin."

1075 Thomas Jefferson St NW
Washington, D.C. 20007

9. Denson Liquor Bar

600 F St NW, Washington, D.C. 20004
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

Across the street from a fire station, one is able to find an old-school cocktail bar tucked away in the lower level of 600 F Street NW. The dimly lit, intimate space offers an array of whiskies and cocktails that are either shaken or stirred. Expect prices at or around $14.It opens at 4:30 p.m.. Monday through Saturday, with a full dinner menu served until 11:30 p.m.; closing times vary.

600 F St NW
Washington, D.C. 20004

10. Harold Black

212 7th St SE, Washington, D.C. 20003
Photo by Alan F. / Yelp

This 1920s-style speakeasy above Acqua Al 2 in Eastern Market is super hush-hush— drinkers have to know it's there. There's seating for around 30 inside. The menu features light fare like charcuterie and sweets like cheesecake.

212 7th St SE
Washington, D.C. 20003

11. Elixir Bar

613 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, D.C. 20003
Photo: Elixir Bar

Located within Barrel on Capitol Hill, this serious cocktail destination prides itself on being a speakeasy without the hurdles or hassles. Find drinks priced in the $12-$14 range. It opens at 4 p.m. on weekdays and at 10:30 a.m. on weekends.

613 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, D.C. 20003

12. Captain Gregory's

804 North Henry Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
Photo: Captain Gregory's

This Alexandria speakeasy has a hidden entrance inside sister restaurant Sugar Shack Donuts. Find the 24-seat space (hint: the door is covered by wooden paneling) but expect to only be able to stay for a couple of hours. Reservations can be made ahead of time for up to six people on OpenTable; walk-ins often end up on a wait list and are contacted when a table opens up.

804 North Henry Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

13. PX

728 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314
PX VA bar Inside PX. Photo: PX

A blue light indicates this iconic Alexandria speakeasy is open for business. Once inside, kick back and allow founder Todd Thrasher and his team of drink gurus to lead a flavorful journey featuring vintage cocktails, seasonal punches, and sparkling surprises. Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are highly recommended.

728 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314

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