In my last post, I wrote about speakeasies – secret bars in hidden rooms, popularized during the Prohibition era. Days after I published it, I uncovered a couple more secret bars, during the same weekend, and in the same town.
As we checked in to the hotel on a Friday evening, I chatted up the front desk clerk about cocktail bars in the area, even mentioned the speakeasy I discovered recently. Overhearing us, another clerk asked, “What’s a ‘speakeasy’?”
“It’s like a secret bar”, I said.
“OOooh. Actually, WE have one of those right here!”
Really! My eyes went all sparkly as I took in her details.
And so we had to check out that bar immediately. This time of year, the ski scene is huge. The bar we wandered into had ski lifts for chairs, and a very tasty apres ski menu. But what really made my mouth water was the hidden bar the clerk told me about.
I stared at the bookcase at the other end. One of the books, not sure which one, opened a secret doorway – like a Scooby-Doo episode (Google it!).
Sipping our Old Fashioned’s, we walked over to investigate. We started touching all the books, until I found the one with the lever – the Collected Works of Victor Hugo. I pulled the book forward, the bookcase slid apart…
And there it was – a secret room with a homage to Al Capone, complete with a mini bar, plush accommodations and machine gun decor!
Finding the other secret passage, with its hidden bar, at a downtown hotel was a challenge. But so worth it! I was told it was in one of a cluster of buildings, which I found after wandering around the block and through a courtyard.
I walked through the quiet, empty hallways, past walls full of interesting (yet kinda creepy), colorful artwork, while looking for a broom closet. Yes, I said broom closet. And yep, that’s also the name of the bar, for obvious reasons.
On the first floor, I walked and searched from one end to the other. Nothing.
Found some stairs and did the same on the second floor. Also nothing.
Was losing patience fast. I mean, how many more floors do I need to walk through, end-to-end, and look at every damn door??
Then I saw a cleaning staff worker at the other end of the hall and ran to her. Next floor, she said.
And there it was – a door that said ‘Broom Closet’.
So I opened it, AND THERE WAS A … bunch of brooms in a closet. Huh.
I shut the door and stood inside, just staring at all the &@#%! brooms. I actually started to think to myself, wouldn’t it be HILARIOUS if there was no actual hidden bar, and it was some inside joke the locals came up with and fed to unsuspecting tourists?
Thinking about the bookcase and the Victor Hugo novel from last night, I started pulling at all the brooms. One of them couldn’t be pulled, so I pushed…and found…the secret door!
I sat in a wee alcove that had a low ceiling, and what looked like a cluster of bamboo poles facing downward. Weird. As I sipped my cocktail and stared at it, I realized that there was something odd about those bamboo poles, like stuff hanging out of them. (???)
I reached up and touched one. Paper. There were rolled-up bits of paper stuffed into the holes! They were messages, bits of wisdoms, and love letters to whoever was sitting in this alcove.
I ordered another cocktail. And one after another, I pulled out messages, read them, then returned them to their holes.
Just for fun, check out these other hidden bars around the world. My favorites are the freezer door sticking up from a snowbank, and the laundromats.
Love Letters Cocktail
(Courtesy of Town & Country Magazine)
1 oz bourbon
.5 oz Patron Citronge orange liqueur
7 dashes of Angostura bitters
7 dashes of Peychauds bitters
1 lemon twist
Add all ingredients (except champagne) into a chilled mixing vessel and stir for 15 seconds. Pour into a chilled coupe, top off with champagne and garnish with an extra-long lemon twist.
Written and photographed by JE Alexandria Julaton
Al Capone Room – Seventh Mountain Resort
The Broom Closet – McMenamins Old St. Francis School