By Chris Morrison, Guest Blogger for LoSoCal
In the Roaring Twenties, the American government instituted the “Noble Experiment”. This was a 13-year ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcohol in the United States. During that time, certain members of American society decided that their government didn't know what was best for them and they had a sip or two anyway. Thus, the speakeasy was born. These backroom, rebellious hideaways were often sponsored by the mob and run by a clandestine system of passwords and hidden entrances. In 1931 the 21st amendment was passed, ending the noble experiment of prohibition. Speakeasies started to fade away as Americans could hit their favorite bars again. Some; however, remain.
As to not break the rules, I won't be spilling the beans on how to get into any of these places. You will have to figure that out on your own ;)
The Captain Charles Kenneth
Image courtesy of The Capitan Charles Kenneth
Built in 1887, the Captain Charles Kenneth has the distinction of being the only speakeasy on this list that was a real speakeasy and illegal gambling den back in the day. The owners have not done much to it since, so expect a fairly unassuming interior with rustic charm. Hidden under a major restaurant off of Carlsbad Village Drive, The Charles Kenneth serves a very tasty menu of very strong drinks. There is no beer or wine available, they keep it traditional by only serving Rspirits. Make sure you ask one of their dapper bouncers to give you the history of the building, it is fascinating to learn the stories. I also highly recommend that you ask the bartender to make you something that is not on the menu. Their house drinks are delicious, but the bartenders are so skilled that what they whip up is usually just as good if not better.
Image courtesy of @101proofoceanside
This spot is one of my favorite bars in all of North County. This very intimate speakeasy is hidden inside a restaurant off of the 101 in downtown Oceanside. The restaurant used to be a bank and the speakeasy has taken over the old bank vault. Running with the slogan “Plausible Deniability” this speakeasy has strong drinks, beer, and wine. They also offer a limited food menu from the restaurant that houses them. Every time I have been they are playing great Jazz music all night. The intimate nature of the bar means that the bartenders are extremely attentive and make sure your glass is never empty. Make sure you call for reservations, the small space means that they do fill up quickly.
Raised by Wolves
Image courtesy of @raisedbywolves
This high-class speakeasy in La Jolla is a mix of a specialized bottle shop and bar with a hidden entrance that is straight out of Scooby Doo. If you are looking for a specialized cocktail bar with an excellent selection of top-shelf liquor that is hard to find elsewhere, Raised by Wolves is the spot for you. Like the other bars on this list, they serve an awesome selection of handcrafted specialty cocktails. Unlike the other bars on this list, you are encouraged to buy and take home a bottle of the liquor that you enjoyed in your drink. I highly recommend them for a fancy night out or if you are looking to impress someone with a secret door!
Vin De Syrah
Image Courtesy of @vindesyrah
If you know me then you know that I love good wine. So when I heard that there was a wine bar hidden in the heart of downtown San Diego I had to go check it out! Vin De Syrah is like if Lewis Carroll's’ Alice designed an underground wine bar and nightclub. The entrance (near The Melting Pot in the Gaslamp) is difficult to find. One of my favorite parts of this bar is that once you finally figure out how to get in, you will find that there is a camera trained on the front door! Everyone at the bar has been watching you try to figure out where the entrance is as they enjoy their wine and cocktails. One of the best parts of drinking there is watching others try to discover the secret entrance.
On the subject of drinks, Vin De Syrah, of course, offers a large selection of wine. They also offer craft cocktails as well as a large beer selection and a variety of small bites to eat. As a heads up; on most weekends they have live music after 10 and it can get busy and very loud. If you are looking for an eclectic escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown then Vin De Syrah is the perfect spot to have a glass of wine and watch people try to figure out a secret door.
Chris Morrison (pictured above on the right) owns Morrison Marketing Solutions, a local marketing company that he launched last year. He is a graduate of the University of California San Marcos with a degree in business and an emphasis on marketing. Chris is a SoCal native who enjoys writing about local San Diego musicians, beer, restaurants, and more. He loves exploring fun and unique spots in San Diego County! Reach out, say hi, and let him know about YOUR favorite spot in SD!
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Owner, Lead Blogger
Hello, my name is Karen Vazquez. I have lived in Southern California for over thirty years. I realized about four years ago that it was time for me to give back to this wonderful community by supporting local SoCal businesses, performers, restaurants, spas, boutiques, fitness studios, farmers markets and more. My support shines through here by highlighting these fabulous local SoCal spots. You can also follow me on Instagram, Twitter, PInterest and LinkedIn. I will be featuring many local destinations in the area that have been my personal favorites for years and am currently recruiting guest bloggers to expand the voice of LoSoCal. I have had guest bloggers in the past, but aim to incorporate local SoCal bloggers on a regular basis as a fun, creative and collaborative way to connect with the community here. Essentially, LoSoCal is a community blog, and it is meant to be resource to locals in this area and visitors from around the world. Please like or follow LoSoCal on the social media business pages and tell your contacts about the blog. Thanks for stopping by...
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