As freeing as it feels to sit out in the sunlight with a crisp beer or cider at one of our local breweries, it sometimes just seems right to escape from the crush of bodies. Luckily, Charlotte has a growing scene of hidden spots to get a drink in a Prohibition-style atmosphere.
Here are 5 speakeasies worth a visit:
330 N. Tryon St.
Duckworth’s may stand out for its extensive craft beer list that extends from local micro brews to rare imports (and warrants a beer club), but there’s an obscure stairwell in the Uptown location that you just shouldn’t overlook. Head down to the hostess stand and be prepared for a wait if you haven’t reserved a seat (it’s worth it).
The speakeasy is dark and snug, with the amber light of Edison bulbs illuminating bar seating and table seating with handsome booths. This building is 106 years old and the speakeasy space is believed to have actually contained a speakeasy in the Prohibition era. Try small plates like truffle mac and cheese and fire-roasted shishito peppers, plus hand-crafted cocktails like the Blackberry Mezcal and the Where There’s Smoke (a spicy-smoked peach margarita).
Don’t miss: A peek at the beer cellar on the far side of the room. The space holds a collection of 500 hard-to-find labels.
4237 Unit B, Park Road
As a culinary-driven concept, this hole in the wall with cozy booths and a sleek bar in Park Road Shopping Center’s Backlot has cheese and charcuterie boards to rave over, as well as dinner menu items like fritto misto with tempura-fried local vegetables and calabrian pepper aioli, and ricotta gnocchi with salt-roasted beets, chantrelles and pea tendrils. The rich dishes are complemented by refreshing and innovative cocktails like the Truffle New York Sour with Larceny bourbon and the Strawberry Fizz with Reyka vodka.
Don’t miss: The hardwood and copper elements acting as an homage to the 1920s. And don’t forget to sign up as a member, first, for $10/year. As the website states, “This is a cocktail parlor, not a sports bar.”
2433 South Blvd.
If you’re drawn to nostalgia, you’ll fit right in here. The lounge tucked into the back of the building containing SouthBound on South Boulevard can be accessed when you lift a phone off the hook to be connected to a hostess inside. Pay your $20 membership fee and make your way into the low-lit space with wood and brick walls, and red-leather accents brightened by a mirror behind the bar with the words “Morrison Hotel”, plus the flickering faux candles on every table. Black and white images of classic performers adorn the walls, from Jonny Cash to Jim Morrison, and signage for The Pterodactyl, the Double Door Inn and more pays homage to music halls that have closed in town.
Snack on small bites like a mezze sampler and Irish truffles, and sip on wines, beers or signature cocktails like the the Gin Fizz with Mother Earth gin and lemon foam.
Don’t miss: That cocktail placed right in front of your face when you sit down. That there is your complimentary house punch — if you’re lucky, you’ll taste their summery sangria.
221 S. Tryon St.
This high-end men’s grooming lounge in Uptown is equipped with Room XIII, a speakeasy-style event space that carries poker tables and a wet bar. Opened in 2006 and renovated in 2011, this lounge (with laid-back decor and TVs) has seen poker games, bachelor parties and cigar nights alike. Not to mention a newly installed cigar filtration air system.
While it’s available for non-members to rent, it’s cheaper for members (the room rate can vary). Members can access the room from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday for Happy Hour at no charge. Members can also rent a yearly Liquor Locker complete with their own nameplate and key.
Fun fact: Owner Zach Edwards modeled the speakeasy off of a room in his fraternity at the University of Vermont called the Friday Afternoon Drinking Club.
Don’t miss: The cozy chairs, ideal for sipping beer.
The corner of West Trade and North Church streets
Discoverable via the loading dock of the Charlotte Marriott City Center, this small speakeasy is open Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. The Dock was introduced in November 2016 on the heels of the opening of Coco and the Director, the Marriott’s coffee hotspot, and Stoke Charlotte, the hotel’s restaurant and bar. Here, you’ll find five prohibition-era and classic cocktails that rotate every week (think Old Fashioneds, Sazeracs, French 75, Manhattans, Last Words and Negronis).
Don’t miss: The chance to meet with Stoke’s head mixologist, Samuel Rouson. That’s one high point of an intimate space.