Crowded clubs and loud sports bars have their moments, but it’s hard to beat a good drink served in a cozy room in which you can both see and hear your companion. That’s where cocktail bars come into play. And while plenty of standout watering holes advertise their wares with flashing signs and robust Facebook pages, some take a subtler approach, hiding in plain sight behind unmarked doors for an added romantic touch.
These modern-day speakeasies don’t serve the same purpose as those from a century ago-namely, drinking bathtub gin while flouting the law. But they sure still have their charms. Some maintain a throwback Prohibition-era vibe, while others serve up unique concoctions featuring mezcal and rum. Some lean into jazz music, while others lean into science and clarify citrus juice with centrifuges. What we’re saying is, you’ve got options.
These are the 14 best speakeasy-style bars around DFW. Keep your head on a swivel, and don’t blink lest you miss the entrance.
Lower Greenville A tiny sign on the patio railing is all that alerts you to Apothecary’s existence-well, that plus a host standing beside said sign. Through the unmarked door is a dimly lit den of velvet furnishings, vintage chandeliers, and gilded mirrors. There’s room for everyone here, so you’re ensured a seat with your drinks. The menu is filled with creative finds, as evidenced by the Orange Julius Caesar’s blend of shochu, clarified orange, clarified tomato stock, clam essence, and Greek yogurt. Is it wacky? Yes. Is it good? Also yes. How to book: Reserve via Tock.
Deep Ellum The unmarked door next to Basic Taco doesn’t look like much, but that’s the point. Rather than a dark, moody bar, the nondescript entrance hides a friendly enclosed courtyard plucked straight from the beaches of Tulum or the cantinas of San Miguel de Allende. Vines snake up the stone walls, Latin music arrives via a live musical act or DJ, and the menu features a variety of tacos, small plates (elotes, aguachiles), and refreshing cocktails. How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.
Deep Ellum Trick Pony has doors right on Main Street in Deep Ellum. You can’t miss it, but you can absolutely miss Pony Tail, because this bar-within-a-bar is stashed behind a nondescript door in the back of Trick Pony. The tiny room features shelves lined with amari, small-batch bourbons, and coveted Japanese whiskies. Taste your way through a few unfamiliar bottles, and you might just discover a new favorite nightcap. How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.
Frisco It’s the old phone booth gag: Approach the red phone in the back of J. Theodore restaurant and dial the “librarian” to request entrance. You will need to give a password before the door opens, but don’t worry, you were born for this (and the password is posted on Instagram and Facebook each week). The swanky room hosts live music, and the bar stocks its shelves with a few hundred whiskeys, so you’ll never run out of things to do. How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.
Uptown Atwater’s speakeasy credentials are strong. The door sports a double “A” logo as the only hint you’ve reached the right place. That place? In an alley, surrounded by dumpsters, behind Henry’s Majestic. Once you enter that easy-to-miss door, you’ll find a two-story hangout with dark wooden bars, hanging lamps, and potent, expertly crafted drinks. The bar initially started with no menu-you can still chat up the bartender for a bespoke tipple-but now you can also order from a boozy lineup organized by category (i.e. “sour” or “spirit-forward”). How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.
Design District This isn’t the only chic Champagne-heavy bar in town, but its covert entrance is quite unlike the rest. Tucked behind its glamorous sister spot, The Charles, the alleyway entrance is a red herring for what’s to come. A colorful fresco outlined in pink neon on the ceiling casts playful shadows on intimate seating areas, where the furniture is mismatched but, you know, in a classy way. If your party is two or fewer, definitely grab a seat at the handsome bar. Score some bubbles or an aperitif, and pair your drinks with a plate of caviar and chicharones. How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.
Fort Worth There’s an unwritten rule that any place declaring itself a speakeasy is probably not a speakeasy. However, self-billed as “Fort Worth’s worst kept secret,” there’s still something secretive about entering a bar through an unmarked convenience store refrigerator door. Once you get inside the unexpectedly large space, bask in the red glow of the neon “WanderLust” sign while partaking in signature cocktails, local beers, and select wine. If you need more to occupy your time beyond sitting and drinking, the bar also sports darts, shuffleboard, pool tables, and big screen TVs broadcasting most major sporting events. How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.
Downtown A cornerstone of the recently revived Statler Hotel, Bourbon & Banter marries Prohibition-era speakeasy vibes with the romantic aesthetic of the 1950s and 1960s, conjuring a time when the hotel was a destination for visiting film stars. Housed underground in what was once an onsite barbershop, Bourbon & Banter has an air of old-school sophistication, and its covert cred is supplied by a phone booth which opens a hidden door. Inside, shelves are lined with hundreds of whiskeys, the cocktails arrive stiff and straightforward, and the music is always lively. Channel the space’s barbershop past and order the Pompadour, an Old Fashioned riff made with bourbon, Venezuelan rum, bitters, and vanilla tincture and crowned with a bruleed top that you break with a tiny hammer. How to book: Reserve via Resy.
Deep Ellum As if you needed another salon-themed bar in your life, High & Tight is part bar, part barbershop. The shop caters to a straight-razor-shave-loving clientele, while the bar serves up a classic-leaning cocktail list that nods both to Prohibition as well as the subsequent-and much-preferred-era, Repeal. The menu is illustrated with booze runners and sign-wielding teetotalers alike, but you don’t have to worry about which side of the line this place falls on. Just look for the green light, and follow the sounds of music and clinking glasses. How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.
Henderson Don’t let the wedding dress in the window here fool you. Instead, follow the clues: The shiny, black, faceless mannequin in the window looms like a specter, or maybe a black widow (“la viuda negra” in Spanish). Located next door to sister establishment El Come Taco (do yourself a favor and line your stomach with a couple tacos beforehand), this agave-centric bar highlights lesser-known spirits from small-producer mezcals to sotol and bacanora. Cocktails are nicely balanced and often served in whimsical glassware, but you can also sip those spirits straight if that’s more your vibe. How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.
Downtown Sure, it’s not really a speakeasy if everyone knows about it. But this subterranean hideaway located in the basement of the ritzy Joule Hotel is admittedly one of the finer drinking dens around. Once inside the Joule’s lobby, look for the staircase leading underground, marked only with the word “cocktails,” and follow it down to a cozy space with wood paneling and retro lighting. The bar resembles your cool uncle’s rec room, but with much, much better drinks (Gabe Sanchez of the dearly departed Black Swan Saloon recently took the reins), plus a DJ spinning records on the weekends. How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.
Denton Just to the right of Andy’s Bar on the corner of Courthouse Square in Denton, you’ll find an unmarked door with an equally unmarked bouncer. Once you’ve proven your age, prove your cardio by climbing one of the steepest staircases in North Texas to your second-floor destination. Choose a spot on one of the leather sofas, or snag a seat at the tiny bar where you can collaborate with the bartender on creating your perfect cocktail. Failing that, you can order from a menu of classics or seasonal creations, all priced below what you’d pay back in Dallas (one of the biggest perks of drinking in a college town). After all those stairs, you deserve it. How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.
Fort Worth Peer down the dark alleys of Sundance Square until you find the bright neon sign with a helpful directional arrow, leading you right through the door and down an elevator to this renowned jazz venue. Featuring both local and national musicians, the intimate space feels like you’re taking a step back in time to an Art Deco oasis when smoky, jazz-filled speakeasies were the only game in town. You can buy tickets ahead of time to secure a table near the action, but if you’re sauntering in last-minute, rest assured there’s standing room in the back. How to book: Purchase tickets online, or stop by for first come, first served seating.
Fort Worth Boasting a vibe that is equal parts mysterious library and whispered-about underground lair, Thompson’s Bookstore, located in the historic Vybek Building in downtown Fort Worth, is a two-story ode to good drinks. Upstairs you’ll find a perfectly lovely bar. Within that bar lies a bookcase that’s really a door, and said door leads down to the underground speakeasy, complete with classic cocktails, creative originals, and a solid whiskey selection. How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.
Kevin Gray is a freelance writer and editor covering all things food, drinks, and travel.
The cold weather in most parts of Australia coinciding with EOFY celebrations is the closest thing that we’ll get to snowy Christmas vibes. And if you’re in dire need of some festive cheer after the first six months of 2023, grab your ugly sweater and head to your nearest Red Rooster for Xmas in July deals.
From June 29 – July 31, 2023, Red Rooster is serving up free food items, a chance to win $10,000 or one of 10 merch packs valued at $400 and other fun prizes. All you have to do is sign up as a Red Royalty member and spend $5 on at a location near you or online.
Each week there’ll be new delicious deals and prizes to win. The week one deals have already dropped and they’re looking pretty tasty. You can get access to them via your Red Royalty account. The more you purchase, the more chances you have to win.
Spoiler alert: you can get 10 chicken nuggets for free, right now. Brb running to Red Rooster.