We’re letting the secret out but you still may have to try to find your way in. These speakeasy bars are shaking up the bar scene by adding mystery with classy sipping style and bringing out infatuation for the good old days of Prohibition. Here are eight of Calgary’s (almost) secret bars.
1. Sub Rosa
Open only on Friday and Saturday, this underground secret lounge is hidden underneath the heritage building on the corner of Stephen Avenue and 1st Street. Hint: you’ll have to spot the glowing neon triangle sign to find the door. Reservations must be made in advance which will then allow you to be ushered by a doorman into this enigmatic space that serves up crafted cocktails that are so delicious you’ll be tempted to double fist. With $8 Manhattans and Negronis on Fridays and half-priced Perrier-Jouët on Saturdays, you might not want to spread the word too much and keep it as a hideaway for yourself.
Address: Hidden underneath 200 8 Avenue SW
Marked by a regal portrait of a French bulldog, this 15-seat intimate space is tucked away behind UNA Pizza + Wine. With a great selection of organic and natural wines to choose from that can be paired with their in-house made charcuterie or a cheese board supplied by Janice Beaton’s Fine cheese, this space will undoubtedly become your post-dinner getaway.
Address: 618 17 Avenue SW
Part of the adventure is finding the entrance to this Parisian style cocktail bar located somewhere in the historic Devenish Building. To make sure you can make your way through the hidden doorway, you’ll have to remember the password they give you upon making a reservation. This place will transport you into the 1920s Prohibition era as you lounge on a vintage velvet chair with opulent glass chandeliers hanging above you listening to jazz filling the room while you’re sipping on one (or all!) of the fresh gin and tonic creations named after F. Scott Fitzgerald’s works. Small plates and delicious libations—that are sadly not bottomless—are offered also.
Address: 906 17 Avenue SW
What once was a storage area for Model Milk has become a lavish hidden retro bar serving up a classic and creatively crafted cocktail menu that changes every week. A staircase will lead you to this 50-seat parlour that is filled with the sound of vinyl tunes, skilled bartenders and great bar snacks coming from Model Milk’s kitchen below.
Address: 300 17 Avenue SW
Tucked away in The National on 10th, this intimate 50-seat lounge decorated with vintage prohibition-era touches provides a laidback ambience that makes anyone entering it feel chic. Bourbon- a whisky generally made in Kentucky- is the star at this bar where you can book boozy educational sessions of groups of 4-40 to expand your whisky knowledge.
Address: 341B 10 Avenue SW
Tucked behind a barbershop, this stylish bar with an irresistible mellow ambiance serves up pre and post-prohibition cocktails with plenty of rye and gin based libations. This spot certainly adds charm to Bridgeland while boozing up the neighbourhood with its crafted cocktails.
Address: 813 1 Avenue NE
This spot marked by a white tiger above the doorway could not be kept secretive for long in Calgary. Named as one of The Greatest Bars in the World by Condé Naste Traveler in 2015, Milk Tiger has mixologists serving up an extensive list of artisanal and downright impressive cocktails including classics and crafted innovative mixes. Most Instagrammed item in the place though has to be the framed cross-stitch reading “Please don’t do cocaine in the washroom.”
Address: 1410 4 Street SW
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8. PRLR Lounge
Decked out with leather tufted booths and plush velvet loveseats, this lounge takes you back in time with its vintage details carrying right through to their dainty cocktail glasses. The cocktails are classy and creative with plenty of gin, rye, pisco, and cognac-based drinks.
Address: 124 10 Street NW