Back alley entrances, secret pass codes and hidden rooms. Finding these restaurants will make you feel as if you’ve landed right smack in the middle of a spy movie. Concept restaurants are all the rage, but there’s a new theme in town that’s got everyone donning their spy hats and grabbing the nearest magnifying glass: The Speakeasy.
The 1920’s were the glorious Jazz age in the US, but it was also the time of prohibition. Which means there was a nation wide ban on manufacturing, selling and consumption of liquor. If you’ve ever read Great Gatsby or watched the movie, you’ll know that the roaring twenties wouldn’t have gotten their scandalous reputation had it not been for some illegal activity. That’s where the concepts of Speakeasies came up. These restaurants were hidden, with secret entrances that required you to know the password to get in. Because inside was a den of decadence, in the form of free flowing liquor.
Though the prohibition is long over, the concept remained. These days speakeasy bars and pubs exist, all for the thrill factor.
So we’re letting you in on a secret, by telling you about these hidden restaurants you can find in India. Booking those flight tickets already, are we?
1. Cocktails and Dreams - Gurgaon
The entrance looks like the replica of a prison gate to throw you off course. A small slide window next to it asks you to knock 3 times (password subject to change) for gaining the privileged entry. Inside you’ll be greeted by a very lively bar, with a corner dedicated to America’s famous jazz singer Louis Armstrong.
2. PDT, Please Don’t Tell - Mumbai
Located in Pheonix mills, the name itself is a giveaway to the speakeasy nature of the bar. Once in the labyrinth that is Pheonix mills, you have to keep your eyes open for a paan shop. From there you’ll be lead to a red phonebooth where you have to punch in the code to get it. Inside an industrial style décor, with innovative cocktails and some good time awaits.
3. PCO - New Delhi
To find the location of this place, you really need to have connections with someone in the inner circle of the PCO patrons. Hidden away in the shadows of closed shop fronts, it is very easy to miss. The password here changes faster than you can cook maggi, so make sure you get the right one (and pass it along to us too, if you figure it out). Once inside, the retro theme with mismatched furniture and phone booths will catch your attention for hours.
4. The Local - Mumbai
Located in Colaba, this bar has an entry pad outside where the passcode has to be punched in to gain an entry. The password changes every week, but luckily for mortals like us, it’s available on their Facebook page. The inside décor is left unfinished with Banksy street art coating the walls. Oh also, this bar has Karaoke!
5. The Dirty Martini - Delhi
After you find the entrance in a back alley, you walk through the kitchens to finally reach the inside of this restaurant. And once you do, it’s as if you’ve been teleported to 1920’s America where the prohibition is still in play. Liquor is served in dainty teacups and a jazz singer decked up in pearls croons away to period music. Visit this bar if only for the covert experience.