Scat Jazz Lounge's side alley entrance.
Bodega is now a poorly kept secret in Crockett Row.
Coffee bar bay day, speakeasy at night. Coffee or champagne the choice is yours at Ampersand.
A peek inside Amber Room's hidden speakeasy.
Blackland Distillery's swank interior - touch of 20s class.
Curfew Bar is an updated and modern speakeasy.
Thompson's Bookstore even has a hidden back room.
Library Bar serves up booze for the bookworm.
A bartender at The Usual prepares another craft cocktail to perfection.
Proper on Magnolia even serves mysterious Absinthe on Thursdays.
Speakeasies became a necessity during Prohibition. Secret backroom nightclubs served up bathtub gin and whatever else they could get their hands on. While America was officially “dry” between 1920 and 1933, the Roaring Twenties rolled right along in spite of it all as speakeasies popped up across the nation. Those in the know, knew what door to knock on and what name to drop to gain entrance.
A hundred years on, the trend is being embraced once again in Fort Worth. In a whole new way.
Some of these Fort Worth speakeasies are hidden behind secret passageways, requiring passwords, cell codes and a little ingenuity to access. Others are right out in the open. No secret knock required. Yet the throwback vibe and classy cocktails still flow.
These are some of the best kept secret bars in Fort Worth, full of Roaring Twenties speakeasy ambience:
A few years back, when a friend told me he was taking us to a hidden speakeasy in Crockett Row, I didn’t believe him. I’m a food writer after all. I think I would have heard about it. I was wrong. Now it has become one of Fort Worth’s worst kept secrets.
Many neighborhoods have a little grocery filled with basic items. In Spanish speaking neighborhoods, they’re called a bodega. At this Bodega bar, you walk into a little grocery/bodega — and those in the know keep walking through the freezer door to gain entrance to the hidden speakeasy. You’ll find everything from mules to Manhattans and mezcal – not to mention live bands — in this cool space.
This Fort Worth speakeasy can get pretty raucous.
Ampersand – West Seventh
There are two Fort Worth locations of this coffee shop, but only one of them has a back room with a beat after hours. That’s the Crockett Row Ampersand. If you ever wondered why there’s a line to get into a coffee shop between 10 pm and 2 am, that’s why.
Friendly coffee bar in the front, party in the back. Like Bodega this is a full nightclub scene with flashing lights and a heavy beat, behind the unassuming door.
This one was never much of a secret. When Wishbone & Flynt opened, it touted its own accompanying speakeasy called Amber Room. There are two ways to enter ― through a large gold door dotted with several door knobs and handles “hidden” near the restaurant bar, or from an unmarked wooden door on Bryan Avenue.
Once inside you’ll be treated to both classic and new cocktails in a retro inspired lounge.
The tasting room at Blackland Distilling serves only its house-made hooch. From bourbon and gin to rye and vodka, this small batch distillery crafts them all. No bathtub required. In fact, a distillery tour reveals some impressive state-of-the-art equipment.
One of my absolute favorite settings, this snug cocktail lounge is dimly lit, but it is sparkly with chandeliers and a ceiling-height bottle wall. The seasonal cocktail menu is inspired and executed to the nines with drinks like the Dreamsicle Fizz, strained over an orange juice ice ball. If it’s your first visit, I suggest starting with a tasting flight.
With dark interior and pops of neon, you’ll find plenty of banquette seating to enjoy a crafted cocktail with friends at Curfew Bar. There are many disco balls dangling over the dance floor — and Zoltar is at Curfew Bar too, ready to tell your fortune. This speakeasy is located in downtown Fort Worth at the base of The Tower.
Another downtown Fort Worth speakeasy, Thompson’s Bookstore was one of the first on the scene. Thompson’s Bookstore has a lovely front bar, the kind you might find in Paris, where a famous writer could have written an epic novel.
There are bookcases strewn with books, and the barrel vaulted ceiling is decorated with pages from antique books. There is also a back room were you can disappear from the weekend crowd or host a private party.
The Library Bar
Another downtown Fort Worth speakeasy is also into books, Enter The Library Bar. There are books, yes. . . but also a long old school bar and a few pool tables. College students can tell their parents they are hitting the library — and not be fibbing in this case.
There are also plenty of flatscreens to catch sports games and a menu of Fort Worth inspired cocktails. These include the Sundance 75, The Horned Frog, The Stockyard and The Leon Bridges with cognac, orange curacao and lemon juice.
One of the early upscale cocktail bars in town, The Usual burst on the scene in 2009 along Magnolia Avenue, officially igniting the craft cocktail craze in North Texas. (I’m not overstating this fact). While a lot has changed around The Usual, the classy cocktail lounge remains.
It brings a modern interior with expert bartenders who are a wealth of knowledge. Plus, their showmanship is certainly impressive. Fun and fanciful cocktails include the Rose on Rose on Rose ― with Old Tom Gin, rose liqueur, Aperol and rosemary.
Proper on Magnolia
The hole-in-the-wall vibe at Proper has an eclectic throwback ambience. There’s even a little courtyard to enjoy out back. You’ll find old school classic cocktails alongside new creations. On Green Fairy Thursdays, Proper even sets up an absinthe drip. This is a contemporary cocktail habitat.
Scat Jazz Lounge
What’s more Roaring Twenties than a hidden speakeasy? A jazz lounge of course. Fort Worth has one of the best in Scat Jazz Lounge, bringing in local, regional and national talent weekly. Just like the great old jazz age clubs. The entrance is even tucked down a side alley of the F. W. Woolworth Building.
Like a proper Fort Worth speakeasy.