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Philadelphia's Hidden Speakeasies

By Philadelphia Bucket List

You'll never know what you'll find 👀🍸

From secret doors to kitchen entrances and long alleyways, speakeasies can instantly turn a night of drinking into the classiest of occasions - because everything during the Roaring 20s was classy, right?! While there may be long lines and strict sets of rules to follow, it’s often worth slipping into a mysterious world where the drinks are strong and the vibe is even stronger. Check out the list below for inside tips on how to get into Philadelphia’s hidden speakeasies.

Fermentery Form 

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Open by announcement only (and every Thursday evening), Fermentery Form is a West Kensington brewery that serves flavorful fermented beers. This bar keeps you on your toes with ever-changing hours, random close dates, and a rotating tap list – but the unusual unsteadiness is what keeps people coming back. Stay in the know by checking out their Instagram for updates.

How to get in: Hidden inside an alleyway on Palethorp with a light post - if the light is on, the bar is open!
Where: 1700 Palethorp St, Philadelphia, PA 19122

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Hop Sing Laundromat

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Dubbed as a “North Korean Cocktail Bar,” China Town’s Hop Sing Laundromat is a hot spot for those looking for a range of cocktails, unique ambiance, and a strict set of rules that play into the speakeasy vibe. Remain in their good graces by leaving a nice tip, ordering drinks, and keeping your phone tucked AWAY during your stay (seriously, photos/videos/social media posts are not welcomed here). Don’t worry, we think you can survive one night without your cell… ;) 

Pro-tip: Cash only - so plan ahead.

How to get in: Head to the unmarked black gate and ring the stainless buzzer. Prepare to hand over your IDs while they check if you’re banned. Once they approve your party, they’ll go over their rules and walk you to your table.
Where: 1029 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

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Graffiti Bar

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Typically we’d advise you to avoid sketchy alleyways, but we’ll make an exception for Graffiti Bar. Attached to the must-visit restaurant, Sampan, Graffiti Bar boasts colorful street art and the same contemporary Asian food served at Sampan. Head there for their week-day happy hour from 4-7pm, with specials on beer, wine and cocktails, $3 satay, $4 dumplings (the edamame ones!!!!).

How to get in: Graffiti Bar is marked and you enter through the long alleyway. Once you hit the end, you’ll see the 30-seat, outdoor bar.

Where: 124 S 13th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

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Ranstead Room

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It wouldn’t be a Philly list without a Stephen Starr restaurant, and this time it’s the dimly lit, semi-hard to find, Ranstead Room - located in Center City West. With vintage artwork, velvet red seats, and an array of cocktails that run around $14 a pop. Ranstead Room embodies that classic speakeasy atmosphere - perfect for a sophisticated night out or a date night that will take you back in time (when chivalry wasn’t dead *sigh*).

Pro-tip: You can order off of El Rey’s menu if you're feeling spicy.

How to get in: There are two entrances to Ranstead Room. 1) Walk halfway down a nondescript alleyway on Ranstead street and find the RR logo on a black door. From there, you’ll be greeted by a hostess following a strict one-in, one-out policy. 2) Guests of Starr’s casual Mexican restaurant El Rey can be escorted through the kitchen directly into Ranstead Room. 
Where: 2013 Ranstead Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

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Fiume has all the speakeasy elements such as minimal seating and a hidden entrance, but once you arrive, you’ll be surprised to find a laid-back dive bar with an expansive bottle selection and live bands that somehow fit into a miniscule space. Don’t expect to come with a huge group, Fiume has limited seats - meaning you’re lucky if a party of 2 can be sat together. This Philly hidden gem is worth checking out if you’re looking for an unusual, divey, experience.

Pro-tip: Cash only - plan accordingly.

How to get in: Enter through the Ethiopian restaurant Abyssinia and head up a flight of stairs labeled Restaurant Entrance.
Where: 229 S 45th St, Philadelphia, PA 19104

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Pen & Pencil Club

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If you want to come to Pen & Pencil Club, best you start befriending some journalists because this press club is open to members and their guests only. It’s the oldest operating press club in America, dating back to serving patrons during the days of Prohibition. If you really use your imagination, you can pretend it’s against the law to sip on a Yuengling draft while you mingle with a bunch of creatives - oh the thrill of secrecy. 

How to get in: There is a fluorescent P&P sign outside, but you must be accompanied by a member in order to enjoy this old-fashioned Philly establishment.
Where: 1522 Latimer St, Philadelphia, PA 19102

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Palizzi Social Club

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“If you wouldn’t bring them to your mom’s house, don’t bring them here.” Consider your crew warned as Palizzi Social Club only allows 3 non-members to be accompanied by a pass-holder. What looks like a typical South Philly row home, is actually Palizzi, an exclusive restaurant with a strict set of rules that can get you kicked out as quickly as you say “more bread please.” Don’t be intimidated, recipes at Palizzi have been passed down from generations, giving off that authentic Sunday Italian family dinner vibe (one you can enjoy without having to scrub dishes afterwards).

How to get in: Wait outside until the neon sign lights up. From there, you enter a small foyer where you must slip your membership card through a slot to prove your worthiness.
Where: 1408 S 12th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

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Ruba Club

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Last call! Ruba Club is an after-hours bar, which already bumps them up a notch since most Philly bars close at 2am (right when you get that second wind after your 3rd espresso martini hits). Ruba Club is a funky establishment bringing different musical acts, burlesque, film screenings, concerts, ping pong tables, and more. Ruba Club is a members only establishment and they’ll typically charge non-members $10 at the door. Small price for a little Ruba, are we right?

How to get in: Follow the alleyway down Green St. 

Where: 416 Green St, Philadelphia, PA 19123

Pro-tip: Cash only

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The Franklin Bar

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The Franklin Bar, formally known as the Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company (we promise this place has no current relations to mortgages or investments as we'd avoid both) brings an interesting Philly backstory. The bar is named after one of the largest alcohol rings during the Prohibition Era (told you) and was opened during the late 1920s by a legendary Philly gangster named “Boo Boo.” The swanky unmarked speakeasy serves an array of cocktails including a “Greatest Hits” tasting flight, which is highly recommended.

How to get in: Use the line outside to determine where the bar is located. The Franklin Bar is unmarked and you will be let in by a bouncer who likely fits the speakeasy part and is dressed head to toe in 1920’s gear. Once you’re in, head down two flights of stairs inside the dimly lit, secretive bar. If there is no line to give it away, you can find the entrance to the stairs next to Byblos.
Where: 112 S 18th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

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The Republican

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Alright, we’re making a complete 180 from the rest of the bars on this list with The Republian, which is a membership-only bar that will bring you back to the days of partying in someone’s grungy frat house. Don’t let this description turn you off, The Republican is a Philly classic, located inside a row home with pole dancers and cheap, cheap beers. If you’re still not sold, memberships will run you a hefty $5, so empty out those wallets and enjoy a night at The Republican that will have you waking up with a million question marks running through your head. 

Pro tip: Open after hours and cash only.

How to get in: The Republican is unmarked and you have to ring the bell to get in.
Where: 1734 Snyder Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19145

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