By Jennifer Brown
When we think of the Prohibition Era, we think of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his book The Great Gatsby, of speakeasies, flappers, partying, etc. It was time where women really became independent as a whole by being reckless and defying the status quo. It was a fascinating time, one that would be exciting to go back and live during, even for a day. For those of you that are fascinated with the events and trends that took place, which gave the era its infamous name, The Roaring 20’s, there are ways to relive that time today, in the 21st Century.
Many speakeasies are still open today, even some of the original ones that were open during the 1920’s. Of course, all are totally legal now, but it is still exciting to dress up in your 1920’s best and go to the speakeasies that exist today. San Diego is home to a few speakeasies and hidden bars that can satisfy your curiosity as to what life was like at the time.
The Noble Experiment is my personal favorite. With a 1920’s atmosphere from the lighting, the size, and the beverages, it truly feels like you are living in the twenties and trying to hide from the cops. The most exciting part about this speakeasy is the location. On the corner of 8th and G Street is the Neighborhood eatery, but what makes The Neighborhood so special is that behind closed doors (quite literally), it is home to Noble Experiment as well. To keep the excitement and suspense alive I will not divulge exactly how to get into the speakeasy, but remember that kegs are key to getting in. (Reservations in advance will help ensure a spot for you, but they do take walk-ins as well.)
Another great speakeasy is the Prohibition Lounge, located in the heart of Downtown San Diego on 5th avenue. The Prohibition Lounge will give you a feel for what it was like to party like Gatsby. The lounge usually has live music and classic cocktails, and the décor is sure to put you back 100 years. The purpose of a speakeasy is to be hidden, but after reading this you should have plenty of clues to find Prohibition Lounge and satisfy your 1920’s curiosity. (For nights with live music they have cover charges to get in. Check their website or Instagram page to see their live music schedule if you want to avoid cover charges.)
Compared to the other two spots, Raised by Wolves is not so difficult to find, but this speakeasy does have qualities that make it just as thrilling as the ones that require you to explore and be adventurous. Located in Westfield UTC in La Jolla, this speakeasy may be a bit farther away, but the trip is well worth it. The atmosphere alone is worth the visit, just so you can say you got to spin into a secret bar on a moving chimney. There is a wide range of beverages available, and their menu does have a wider variety of cocktails available. (Reservations are highly recommended.)
Honorable Mention: Vin de Syrah. A modern day night club with an Alice in Wonderland feel, this is not a traditional speakeasy but there are characteristics of it that will still give you the thrill of exploring and adventuring. After walking down the stairs, to enter the club, you will see a wall that looks like its covered in shrubs and to enter you have to find the secret door that is embedded in the greenery. It may not feel like you are traveling back into the 1920’s, but it will feel like you are falling down the rabbit hole and entering the world of Alice in Wonderland. It does not however stop at the secret door — the inside also feels like you are in the rabbit hole with playing cards on the ceiling, umbrellas hanging, and greenery inside of the club. Vin de Syrah is located on 5th Avenue underneath The Melting Pot. (There is usually a line to get in on busy nights, specifically weekends.)
These are only a few of the speakeasies or hidden bars that I have been to personally, but I have heard of other ones in San Diego that may not be 1920’s themed, but they are hidden and still can give you the excitement of exploring and doing something secretive. If you really want to explore what it was like to live in the 1920’s, I encourage you to find any more hidden bars or speakeasies here or even when you travel. They are all over the country and can add a little more adventure to your travels.