In the 80 years since Prohibition was consigned to the archives, it's hard to think of a domestic policy that has attracted more controversy than the blanket ban of alcohol did throughout the United States. The Prohibition years ushered in a shady world of speakeasies and bootlegging that saw figures like Al Capone flourish, and thousands of frustrated drinkers fall ill after consuming sub-standard alcoholic concoctions. But Prohibition also left a popular legacy in some ways - it provided the platform for cocktails to burst on to the scene for starters - and bar-tenders around the globe have been quick to set up speakeasy-style venues that create a secretive yet vibrant atmosphere.
To mark 80 years since the passing of Prohibition, we've put together a list of our top 5 speakeasy-inspired bars throughout the capital! If you like the sound of one, why not book yourself a table and step back into the 1920s yourself!
1. Bart's Bar, Chelsea
Bart's, situated in an old-fashioned hotel in the heart of Chelsea, has the speakeasy vibe down to a tee. Guests must locate the secret door and ring the bell to gain entrance, and once inside they're greeted by an endearing hangout kitted out with kitsch and kooky decorations against the backdrop of a prohibition styled playlist.
2. Purl Bar, Mayfair
Theatrical and innovative cocktails are the order of the day at Purl, with the venue's team of maestro mixologists blending a whole host of exuberant flavours with great results. The underground speakeasy is shrouded in secrecy but if you can track it down you'll not fail to be enchanted.
3. Chelsea Prayer Room, Chelsea
This exclusive and highly secretive hangout is located just upstairs from the cool Goat DINE restaurant. There's a capacity of just 30 and you'll need to be a member to get in, but once inside guests are rewarded with tasty moonshine-like cocktails that are poured from mysteriously unbranded bottles.
4. Opium, Chinatown
There's an abundance of great cocktails at Opium but the question is, can you actually find it? Nestled behind a non-descript green door and up a long dark stairway, the venue's concealed nature helps it to ooze a stylish speakeasy-vibe.
5. Ruby's, Dalston
Situated in the basement bar of Ruby House, underneath the huge cinema sign is one of the capital's true hidden gems. Ruby's vibrant cocktails combine with the quirky interior to exude an authentic prohibition ambience that you'd be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the city.