The History of Speakeasies and Prohibition in Los Angeles: A Deep Dive into LA's Hidden Bars
In the golden age of jazz, flappers, and men in fedoras, a revolution brewed in the cellars and backrooms of the City of Angels. With the nation under the grips of Prohibition, the birth of speakeasies and hidden bars was an inevitable response to a city thirsty for forbidden libations. Join us at Fun Date Idea as we raise our glasses to the captivating history of speakeasies and Prohibition in Los Angeles.
The Dawn of Prohibition
On January 17, 1920, the Volstead Act plunged America into the era of Prohibition. Following the 18th Amendment, this federal law was intended to curb the nation's excessive drinking habits. However, it triggered a paradoxical effect - the birth of a secretive, energetic, and deeply thrilling underground bar culture.
Los Angeles Under the Dry Law
While some parts of the country were succumbing to the dry law, the City of Angels was not going to be left high and dry. The city's sun-drenched coastline and easy access to Canada and Mexico made it a prime spot for smuggling booze.
If you scratched beneath the surface of the glitz and glamor of early Hollywood, you would find an intricate network of underground tunnels. These served as secret passageways for bootleggers, ensuring the flow of alcohol to a city unwilling to let go of its libations.
The Birth of Speakeasies
As law enforcement battled bootleggers on the streets, another phenomenon was shaping LA's nightlife - the speakeasy. These hidden bars, aptly named for the patrons' tendency to 'speak easy' or quietly to avoid attention, were clandestine establishments that illegally served alcohol during the Prohibition era. The patrons needed passwords to enter these elusive havens of liquor, music, and dance.
LA’s Famous Speakeasies: Icons of Defiance
King Eddy Saloon Located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, King Eddy Saloon was a legitimate piano store on the surface. However, the basement held the real magic. It was a speakeasy where patrons reveled in drinks and music.
The Cocoanut Grove Inside the posh Ambassador Hotel, this nightclub quickly gained notoriety as a speakeasy. The Cocoanut Grove hosted some of the era's most famous acts and celebrities, from Frank Sinatra to the Marx Brothers, under the disguise of a regular supper club.
The Townhouse and Del Monte Speakeasy This Venice bar served as a grocery store on the ground floor, while the basement was a speakeasy that delivered booze via underground tunnels from the ocean. Today, the Del Monte Speakeasy continues to operate in the basement of the Townhouse.
From Speakeasies to Modern Hidden Bars
With the repeal of the Volstead Act in 1933, the clandestine speakeasies re-emerged as legitimate establishments. However, the allure of the hidden, the hush-hush, and the thrill of the illicit never really disappeared. Today, Los Angeles boasts a vibrant scene of hidden bars and speakeasies that continue to charm patrons with their mystery and history.
Experience a taste of the Prohibition era with Fun Date Idea's hidden bars and speakeasy experiences. From a thrilling '20s themed soiree to an exploration of the city's secretive watering holes, we bring the golden age of speakeasies to the present day.
The Legacy of Prohibition and Speakeasies in Los Angeles
What Prohibition inadvertently created was a culture of resilience, ingenuity, and a taste for the secretive and seductive that remains deeply ingrained in Los Angeles' social fabric. Today, LA's love for hidden bars and speakeasies is not just about enjoying a clandestine cocktail. It's about stepping back in time, immersing in a rich history, and celebrating the spirit of rebellion that helped shape the city.
The Varnish Tucked away at the back of Cole's, one of LA's oldest public houses, The Varnish is a testament to the enduring allure of the speakeasy. This modern-day hidden bar retains an air of old-world charm and secrecy reminiscent of its Prohibition predecessors.
La Descarga Known for its Cuban-inspired ambiance, La Descarga is more than just a hidden bar. It's an experiential journey. The entrance is a clandestine wardrobe, reminiscent of Prohibition-era speakeasies' hidden entrances.
Experience these stunning throwbacks to a bygone era and more with Fun Date Idea's exciting LA speakeasy experiences.