Cigars and cocktails at five Atlanta speakeasies

Secret passwords, hidden passages, and special memberships abound
Pizzeria Vesuvius in Edgewood

Photo courtesy of Teodora Nicolae of Caren West PR

Ever wanted to return to the days of old when alcohol was illegal and accessible only behind shady fronts? While Atlanta’s speakeasy scene isn’t as historical as New York City, we do have our fair share of bars that utilize secret passwords, hidden passages, and special memberships to recreate history. Below are five local establishments. Dress up and stack your wallet—oh, but do be quiet about it.

The Club at Chops Lobster Bar
Inside of Chops Lobster Bar in Buckhead lies a lounge known as “the Club.” Behind a secret door, mosaic tile and leather chairs complement a dark bar lined with liquor. Special wine options are available, and the food comes from the regular Chops menu. Cigars are chosen from the house humidor room and smoked in a separate room with its own ventilation. Rumor has it that sports stars, actors, and other prominent VIP visit the establishment, and privacy is king. Access is granted to members only, with a waiting list for the waiting list. No temporary passes are available, and you must be nominated by another member to make the waiting list. But maybe if you’re lucky enough to have friends in high places, you can just tag along as their plus one.

Located deep within Buckhead’s Andrews Entertainment District, the front door to Prohibition is a red, London telephone booth that requires a special code to open (hint: get a drink at the Czar Ice Bar upstairs). Once inside, you better have dressed well or they will show you the exit. Collared shirts for the gentlemen, dresses for the ladies. Hardwood floors, dark leather couches, and a warmly-lit bar collaborate with dark brown walls. Prohibition also doubles as a cigar club. Annual membership includes a humidified cigar locker, an engraved nameplate, priority valet, and more. An extensive and classic cocktail list rounds out the experience.

Pizzeria Vesuvius in Edgewood
Not all speakeasies are smoke and mirrors. At Pizzeria Vesuvius in Edgewood, head towards the bathroom in the back and look through the bookshelf on your left for a copy of Deliver Us From Evil. Pull the book-lever and the shelf opens up to the building’s hidden bar. Small but cozy, the speakeasy’s dim lighting reflects off a dark, wooden bar to magnify the warm feeling that comes from the cocktails crafted by Nate Shuman of Proof and Provision. Smoking is allowed, but no cigars are available in-house. DJs play live music every night from Tuesday through Saturday, and live jazz fills the house on Sundays. Black and white gangster films are frequently screened on the exposed brick walls for another layer of retro.

The Fred at the Taco Mac at the Prado in Sandy Springs
If all this cigar and cocktail business sounds too fancy, head to the Taco Mac at the Prado in Sandy Springs. Look for an unmarked black door underneath the patio and push the doorbell. Access is granted to those who have racked up thirteen different beers on the free “Brewniversity” membership card. The Fred features stone walls and a vaulted ceiling accompanied by red leather chairs and several leather booths as tall as the average man. The drink menu, delivered on iPads, focuses on high quality beers with some wine and cocktail options. A special “Fred’s Secret Stash” section hosts the rarest brews.

Eleanor’s at Muss & Turner’s
At this family-friendly restaurant, look for a large freezer door in the back to find Eleanor’s, the restaurant’s semi-secret bar. Boilermakers—craft beers mixed with shots of booze—are the house-special. The look: black walls, leather barstools, and a wooden bar. From one-way mirrors you can gaze into the main restaurant for some serious people watching. By the end of the night, the ever-friendly owner Eleanor will probably have stopped by for a chat.