10 Best Speakeasy Style Bars in East London

The speakeasy style seems to be a trend showing no sign of demise. It went global after the phenomenal success of PDT (Please Don’t Tell) in New York, which opened back in 2007. Accessed through a vintage phone booth by a hot dog joint in the East Village, it made everyone feel like they were in on a fantastic secret, like they were about to commence on an unknown adventure. That’s the true appeal of all speakeasies – they play with our sense of imagination and urge to overcome the mundane.


PDT advocated fine etiquette (for example, no hitting on women you don’t know) and even finer cocktails with a vintage edge. Soon the rest of the world followed suit, and every other bar that opened was branded a speakeasy. These days the term is used in its loosest possible meaning to include almost all bars with a concealed or unmarked entrance, and more often than not with a vintage aesthetic, whether in décor or drinks menu.


In reality, would we really want to return to the days of Prohibition when inevitably the bootlegged booze burned your throat and police were a pain? Probably not, but nonetheless it conjures our fantasies of the roaring twenties when women in tasselled, glittering dresses drank gin from teacups and did high kicks. 



Brewdog is doing its best to take over the world. It began life in 2007 as a project between two friends to combat the uninspiring UK ale scene and soon was the largest independent brewery in Scotland, exporting around the globe with demand high...  Read More



Located beneath the Hoxton Square Breakfast Club, this isn't that secret, and it never was. Inside the dining room of this restaurant (obviously open for more than just breakfast) is what looks like a SMEG fridge. It is in fact a secret door,...  Read More

East London


Bar Off Broadway is an excellent bar in its own rights, but it also harbours a dirty rum secret. Head to the toilets downstairs, flush the chain (don't worry, they make it pretty clear, which one) and you're in. This rum bar plays on all your...  Read More



From the people behind Marylebone's incredible Purl, this place is bringing together our rose-tinted fantasies from the days of gin palaces and all the squalor and elegance that the Victorian era conjures. The entrance is easy to miss, but once...  Read More



Walking along Brick Lane by night, past the calls of the curry house touts and crowds of revellers, you would never know this little drinking den is tucked away beneath it all. From the same people that brought London and New York the legendary...  Read More

East London


On Stoke Newington Road there's an illuminated sign declaring, 'Nothing to see here...' Don't believe it. Descend the red corridor down to what is a splendid subterranean drinking den, but feels a little like a boozy 1940s tearoom. Ramshackle...  Read More



For over two decades the Well & Bucket was one of East London's many derelict pubs, occasionally occupied by uninspiring small businesses. That is, until 2012, when it was restored to its former glory and more, and is now one of Bethnal...  Read More



"Callooh! Callay!" was an exclamation of pure joy and celebration in Lewis Carroll's nonsense poem the Jabberwocky, and a well-deserved utterance on stepping foot in this bar. The name is taken from the Lewis Carroll's poem the Jabberwocky,...  Read More



The entrance is hidden on one of East London's busiest streets between a kebab shop and a newsagent. Every detail in this basement bar has been considered from the retro furnishings to the cocktail menus disguised in old Czech books. It's dimly...  Read More

Photo courtesy of Nightjar


This slice of old school glamour is hidden between two cafes on the fairly grimy City Road near Old Street tube. Head through the unmarked door, down a dark staircase and into the Nightjar: a bar with lilting jazz tunes to lift the soul and send...  Read More


Meet Tyler Wetherall

Tyler Wetherall is a freelance writer specialising in travel, food & drink, covering topics as varied as narcs in the Colombian jungle to cocktail drinking in Cuba. Tyler has lived in London...  More About Tyler