Hidden in Plain Sight: How to Find 7 of Arizona’s Best Speakeasies and Secret Bars

Hidden in Plain Sight: How to Find 7 of Arizona’s Best Speakeasies & Secret Bars

Photo courtesy of The White Rabbit via Instagram

By Teresa K. Traverse

September 13, 2023

Speakeasies have held appeal for decades. The term initially referred to places that served alcoholic beverages during Prohibition.

Since those days are (thankfully) long behind us, speakeasies today borrow characteristics of those old-time bars: hard-to-find, dimly lit and relatively quiet.

It’s easy to see why they develop such fervent followings. There’s something fun about finding a somewhat hidden bar that’s only known by a select group of people—like joining an exclusive club. Finding speakeasies is part of the fun. Here are seven speakeasies in Arizona and directions on how you can find them. Just keep them close to your chest. 

Melinda’s Alley

50 E. Adams St., downtown Phoenix

Hidden in Plain Sight: How to Find 7 of Arizona’s Best Speakeasies & Secret Bars

Photo courtesy of Melinda’s Alley via Instagram

Located in the basement of the Renaissance Hotel Downtown Phoenix, Melinda’s Alley is a dimly lit bar with a decidedly historic aesthetic. Think vintage chairs and historic photos on the somewhat shabby walls. This speakeasy opened in 2016 and serves four custom cocktails weekly. You can find Melinda’s Alley underneath a red light above a door. It’s only open Friday and Saturday after 9 p.m. Although the street address is listed as Adams Street, the entrance to the bar is actually between Monroe and Adams streets in an alley called … you guessed it … Melinda’s Alley. You’ll see a massive colorful mural of a woman overlooking a hotel in flames on the wall of the alley. Look for a red light above a door for the entrance. 

Melinda’s Alley is named after Malinda (yes, with an “a”) “Malindy” Curtis, who was well known in the early 1900s for her colorful personality and history as a courtesan. The vibrant mural dedicated to her on the wall of the bar that bears her name is a tribute to that. She lived in the historic Adams Hotel, which is where the Renaissance is located today. Her spirit allegedly haunts this alley. Learn more about the mural and the alley in this post on Downtown Phoenix’s website.

The White Rabbit

207 N. Gilbert Road, Gilbert

Downtown Gilbert’s The White Rabbit is another speakeasy with a fascinating history. According to the bar’s website, Dr. O’Hare started his practice in Gilbert back in 1910. When prohibition went into effect in 1920, he started to “prescribe” alcohol to the patients at his apothecary (what they called a pharmacy in those days). Patients were given a password that they had to recite to enter. Today, you must give the password to the bouncer to enter. The password changes monthly, and you can access it when you sign up for emails from The White Rabbit on its website. 

To find this place, walk down a long staircase near dt Salon Studios on Gilbert Road in downtown Gilbert, open a door and walk through a short hallway before entering through a door that’s part of a bookcase. Inside, you’ll find a sleek bar complete with plush seating, chandeliers, and a gleaming bar. Custom cocktails have clever names like Guns & Butter and New Boot Goofin’. There are no cocktail substitutions—you’ll have to drink what they’re serving. The food menu is small but mighty. Look forward to flatbreads, a Bavarian pretzel, a charcuterie board, and desserts like crème brulee.

The Point Bar & Lounge

114 N. Montezuma St., Prescott

Hidden just off downtown Prescott’s Whiskey Row is The Point Bar & Lounge. Located in an alley behind Montezuma Street, the door says The Point on it. If the light above the door is illuminated, it means the bar is open. Inside, you’ll find a sleek, shadowy bar and an extensive drink menu. Find signature cocktails, classic cocktails, mocktails, wine, mules, beer, bourbon, rum, gin, and vodka.

Stardust Pinbar

401 W. Van Buren St., Ste. C, downtown Phoenix

Hidden in Plain Sight: How to Find 7 of Arizona’s Best Speakeasies & Secret Bars

Photo courtesy of Stardust Pinbar via Instagram

Downtown Phoenix’s Stardust Pinbar goes against everything we’ve said so far about the stereotypical, gloomy speakeasies. A disco ball hangs from the ceiling, colorful posters hang on the walls, and the floor has tiles that change colors. To get into Stardust Pinbar, enter through Ziggy’s Magic Pizza Shop and walk down the hallway on the right and through the door. Inside, you can play pinball on numerous machines located throughout the speakeasy. The drink menu is fun and features items like Ziggy Pop—a colorful cocktail made with cucumber vodka, pineapple juice, raspberry Jolly Ranchers simple syrup, and lime, finished with a Pop Rock rim. You can even take green tea or Mexican candy shots. And if you’re hungry, the bar serves Ziggy’s Magic Pizza from down the hall. 

Trophy Room

2 N. Central Ave., Ste. 101, downtown Phoenix

Hidden Near You: How to Find North Carolina’s Best Speakeasies and Secret Bars

Photo courtesy of Trophy Room

Housed behind a black curtain in the dining room of downtown Phoenix’s hip Wren & Wolf restaurant, the Trophy Room is perhaps best known for being a speakeasy that doesn’t allow cellphones or cameras inside. All technology is secured in a vintage catalog cabinet prior to entering the bar. Opened in February 2023, the Trophy Room features a taxidermy bear with her cubs along with chandeliers and archways made with bullets and bullet shells. As far as drinks go, look forward to libations made with fresh, house-made ingredients. The bar does not serve food, so you may want to fill up at Wren & Wolf first. Reservations are for 90-minute time slots and are highly recommended, as the space only fits 32-36 people at a time. 

36 Below

3620 E. Indian School Road, central Phoenix

Hidden in Plain Sight: How to Find 7 of Arizona’s Best Speakeasies & Secret Bars

Photo courtesy of 36 Below via Instagram

Head inside Sip Coffee and Beer Garage in Arcadia and follow the 12 stairs down to 36 Below. There’s no sign outside indicating that you’ve arrived at a bar, but you’ll see a black box inside on the right when you walk in the front door. Once you’re there, you’ll find a lush, green environment complete with dark green chairs at the bar, greenery in alcoves in the wall, and images of trees and other plants. 

The cocktail menu rotates seasonally and also features plenty of natural elements. Many drinks are garnished with leaves and flowers, like the Arcturian Seed—a bright yellow cocktail made with reposado, Ramazzotti, pink cranberry, turmeric, dill, and lime. Reservations are available 30 days in advance and the experience lasts 90 minutes. Professional attire is preferred—tank tops, flip-flops, and athletic attire are not permitted.

Pigtails

Two locations in metro Phoenix

Hidden in Plain Sight: How to Find 7 of Arizona’s Best Speakeasies & Secret Bars

Photo courtesy of Pigtails via Instagram

Pigtails has two speakeasies in metro Phoenix—one in Desert Ridge and another in downtown Phoenix at Cityscape. From the outside, the downtown location appears to be a kitchen from its entrance on Central Avenue. The only giveaway? A neon sign that says “Cocktails” above the swinging metal door. Walk through this small kitchen and find a sleek cocktail bar. The Desert Ridge location is across from Dave & Busters. Walk down the stairs with a pig medallion and you’ll wind up at The Whining Pig wine bar. Head toward the hallways and take a right, then another right past the two bathrooms on the left. Inside, you’ll find a tenebrious bar with greenery on the walls and a striking raw seafood bar.

Look forward to craft cocktails and hearty bar food. The latest Desert Ridge cocktail menu features categories like Highballs, Light n’ Citrusy, Fun n’ Fresh, Cool n’ Nerdy, Bold n’ Boozy, Faves n’ Throwbacks, Fancy Features, The Fashioneds, Zero Percent Proof, Shots and Happy Hour. The cocktails have fun names like The Red-Headed Nun and Sunshine State of Mind. Food-wise, look for a buffalo chicken quesadilla, Korean-style chicken wings, and fresh oysters. Neither location takes reservations, as they are walk-in only.

READ MORE: Brunch Bliss in Central Phoenix: Unveiling the 4 Best Brunch Spots Downtown

Author

  • Teresa K. Traverse

    Teresa K. Traverse is a Phoenix, Arizona-based writer and editor. Her work also has appeared in national print outlets including Weight Watchers, Bust and Parenting magazines and on sites like Tripadvisor, Wine Enthusiast, SFGate, Brides, Rachael Ray Every Day, Bustle, Racked, ForRent.com, WeddingWire, Refinery29, The Daily Meal, Oxygenmag.com, USA Today and Fast Company. She's the managing editor of Sedona Monthly. In her spare time, she loves hiking, reading magazines and spending quality time with her long-haired Chihuahua, Rocket. Visit teresaktraverse.com to check out more of her work.

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