4 Legit Milwaukee Speakeasy Bars

Can you find the entrance to these bars?

January 22, 2019
Mucha Lucha
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During the time of Prohibition, bars had to hide in plain sight to avoid detection from the authorities. You had to know what you were looking for if you wanted an ‘illicit drink’ – these locations became known as a speakeasy. Thankfully for us, Prohibition came to an end and we don’t have to hide our alcoholic beverages. For those that enjoy reliving the past or the mystery of discovering a ‘hidden gem’ (literally) in Milwaukee, there are 4 legit speakeasy bars you have to check out (plus 2 that aren’t but are worthy of mention).

SafeHouse

1. SafeHouse

This is probably the most well-known speakeasy in Milwaukee, it’s both a bar and restaurant and all guests are treated like the spy we know we can be. There is a password to get in, but don’t worry – if you don’t know it, they’ll have you earn your way inside. Everyone inside will get to watch you make your way inside, so be ready to laugh at yourself in the process. Once inside you’ll have fun exploring the secrets within. This is a family-friendly location.

Bugsy's

2. Bugsy’s Back Alley Speakeasy

No password required! You just have to find one of two entrances. Both the alley entrance and through Gouda’s Italian Deli are fun experiences, so make sure you take time to find both options. Once inside, it’s pretty much an open-mic bar vibe. Acoustic music is often playing on the small stage in the corner and on occasion, there may be a fan dancing girl on the other end of the bar.

Shanghai

3. Shanghai (in Black Cat Alley)

Password required for entry, but if you ask nicely they’ll give you a hint (think of where you are – I don’t want to spoil it much more than that)! You’re looking for the chain link gate in the middle of Black Cat Alley with a buzzer to the left. Once you give the password and get buzzed in, make your way to the end of the alley where one door will be left; you'll enter into the smallest speakeasy I have ever been in! Strong, flavorful drinks will be waiting for you. This location is technically a part of the new Crossroads Collective but the true entrance is through the alley.

Related: Crossroads Collective Opens in Milwaukee

Mucha Lucha

4. Mucha Lucha (at Hotel Madrid)

No… there isn’t a “password required” but you do need to ask for a Scorpion Shot at Hotel Madrid’s bar and you’ll be escorted underground. They’re open as early as 8 pm on Friday and Saturday nights (though the website says 10 pm) and Sundays at 5 pm. Mucha Lucha is a truly unique speakeasy as it is known for their mezcal and tequila.

Related: What to Expect with the Lux Domes 

There are two Milwaukee bars that are worthy of mention, though they are technically NOT speakeasies. The Phoenix Cocktail Club is on Jefferson Street next to Bad Genie, from the exterior you could easily walk right by it as it doesn’t look like any of the bars in the neighborhood. Even as you enter, you feel like you’re entering someone’s home. It’s a great spot for a classy cocktail and conversation where you can hear your friends.

Finally, Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge is a must-visit bar in Milwaukee for the experience you have, there are no menus. You tell the bartender what you enjoy drinking, you can be as vague or descriptive as you’d like and they will make you the best-tasting cocktail you’ve ever had and will likely never have again. It’s located in Walker’s Point and well worth the visit, especially if you’re trying to impress a friend that thinks they know a lot about what they like.

Let me know if you've made it to any of these speakeasy-esque locations or if you know of other hidden bars in Milwaukee that I need to check out! Hit me up on social media at @JMattMke (same handle on InstagramTwitterFacebook, and Snapchat).