The Best Prohibition Cocktail Bars

Prohibition occurred in the 1920s, when it became illegal to manufacturer, transport, sell or consume alcohol. The law was created to try and solve some of the antisocial problems that many countries were experiencing. In the end, it led to the creation of an alcoholic black market. Bars had to be very subtle in their appearance, but due to the lack of enforcement, a number of “speakeasy” establishments were able to successfully trade.
Despite the ban ending around the 1930s, the influence of the era still remains fashionable. The trend has become even more prominent recently, as a number of small, secretive bars have opened around the world. Drinkers are encouraged to remember a time when alcohol was forbidden, and hard to come by, and therefore more exciting and exclusive. Despite these bars becoming more popular, there are only a few that pull off the trend well.

Worship Street Whistling Shop, London


This characteristic bar is set in a cellar in Shoreditch. It is unusually decorated with vintage bathtubs, ancient bookcases, and lots of candlelight. Despite its eccentric appearance, and antisocial opening hours, it is a busy little bar, and it is easy to see why. The bar staff appreciate the history and manufacturing process behind every drink they sell. Many of the spirits and liqueurs sold here are produced in-house, with a special focus on gin. A variety of cocktails are available to showcase the WSWS gin, and the large library of vintage gins that are available. The tucked-away bar is definitely one to visit if you are a gin connoisseur.

Bathtub Gin, New York


New York, the home of the speak-easy bar. There are so many prohibition bars in the Big Apple that it takes a truly spectacular one to stand out. Bathtub Gin is such a bar. It takes its name from the term that was coined during the era. It refers to the manufacturer of spirits illegally in a bathtub or other household object. The spirit of choice was usually gin, and the resulting drink was so unpalatable that bartenders were encouraged to mix it up with other, non-alcoholic drinks to create a liquid that would be nice to drink. Hence the rise of the cocktail.

The cocktails in this bar are strictly pre-prohibition, but the spirit used is much tastier and professionally produced. It has many interesting quirks, including a hidden entrance that can only be accessed by finding the loose wall panel in Stone Street Coffee Company. Waitresses are dressed in full flapper costume, and jazz musicians and burlesque shows provide regular entertainment. A gold plated bathtub provides an interesting focal point, while large armchairs and fringed lampshades complete the vintage décor. Reservations are recommended.

Grandma’s, Sydney


Prohibition in Sydney had more to do with the criminalisation of cocaine. However, heavy restrictions on the sale of alcohol were put in place which contributed to the uprise in crime in the same era. Sydney still pays homage to the 20s with a variety of speak-easy bars, but Grandma’s is one of the most authentic. It resembles a tatty living room, with faded furniture and a cosy atmosphere. However, it boasts an extensive drinks menu which will keep customers visiting time and time again. It is hidden away underneath a guitar shop on Clarence Street.

Pardon the interruption

Did you know that you can become a member for free, taking your cocktail making skills up to level 11. You can save your My Bar ingredients, make tasting notes, have personalised Tried and Want to try lists and more.

More to explore

The Travelling Cocktail Drinker: The Best Bars in Dublin

It is known as being the birthplace of Guinness, but Dublin is also a fantastic city to visit if you...

The World’s Best Rooftop Bars

One of the best things about the summer is the long, lazy days where the sun shines lateuntil the ev...

The History of Champagne

It is the drink that is saved for celebrations and extravagant events, used to impress others and cr...

Bartender's top tip

The key to a great cocktail is balance. Ensure that the sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and alcohol are in harmony. Use fresh ingredients whenever possible, and don't be shy about adjusting the proportions to suit your taste. For instance, if you find a drink too sour, add a bit more sweetener, or if it's too sweet, balance it with a bit of citrus or bitters.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Get tips straight into your inbox.

Upgrade your mixology

Become a member for free taking your cocktail making skills up to level 11.

  • Save your bar forever
  • Access to our Cocktail Creator, allowing you to create your own wonderful concoctions.
  • Save cocktails to personalised 'Tried' and 'Want to try' lists
  • Create and record tasting notes on cocktails
  • Create lists of cocktails to share with friends and family
  • A pesonalised MyBar URL, allowing you to share everything you can make with friends
  • And much more ... (what to buy next, measurement choices, search personalisation...)
Register now

Have you tried our Wordpress Plugin?

Download our plugin and embed cocktail recipes directly onto your own site or blog.

Choose from our whole recipe database, or choose a specific cocktail made with a certain ingredient, and let us place a beautiful recipe on your own site.

Find out more