Do you think you know all the coolest bars in your city? Chances are, you know a lot of them: the ones that are frequented by other in-the-know locals like yourself, and written up in trendy publications. But somewhere in your city, through a dark alley or hidden down some cellar stairs, are secret bars you'd never even know were there. Bravo’s Going Off The Menu, hosted by James Beard award-winning documentarian Liza De Guia and Michelin rated underground chef Russell Jackson, is exploring the underground culinary scene in LA, exposing the city's most decadent and exciting—not to mention invisible—places to eat, drink and play.
In conjunction with the launch of the first three episodes of the series (watch episode 1 above and all the rest here), we are uncovering some of the world’s most wonderful underground bars. So if you want to impress your friends, or visiting out of towners, or if you’re planning a trip to a new city, here are some tips to the underground.
1. The Mayor Of Scaredy Cat Town, London, England
Getting into The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town, one of London’s best kept bar secrets, is going to require some pretty solid urban navigational skills. It's located at the back of London's Breakfast Club on Artillery Lane, which is next to the trendy Spitalfields Market. To get into The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town, you have to walk through a Smeg fridge (which is literally just a single door fridge against a wall), follow a fluorescent sign that says "thrills," and ask the host to see the "Mayor." Only once you’ve done all that will you find yourself in the dimly lit underground speakeasy for some opulent cocktails.
2. Employees Only, New York City, USA
If you were to walk past Employees Only, you might not know it was a bar. The heavily curtained windows don’t betray the impressive cocktail menu and '20s decor you’ll find inside, and a glowing "Psychic" and “live tarot card readings” signs in the window suggest you’ll be having your fortune read before you'll be watching a bartender muddle drinks for you. If you can spot the bright pink sign and venture inside forever, your tastebuds are in for a treat as Employee's Only serves some of NYC's most boast-worthy cocktails.
3. The Croft Institute, Melbourne, Australia
So much of Melbourne's nightlife happens down back alleyways, in off-the-beaten-path bars and restaurants you’ll need a local to guide you too. But the Croft Institute is one of the city’s best kept secrets, and you can only get there though a back alley in Chinatown, which after winding your way past garbage bins, might make you feel like you're on a fool’s errand. But once you find the innocuous doorway, you'll step inside to find a bar fitted out like a mad scientist's laboratory, with amazing, glowing cocktails to delight you.
4. Door 74, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Door 74 is Amsterdam’s first speakeasy style bar, and it’s got some serious rules to match, including no phone calls at the bar and no hats inside. If you can find the bar (it's behind a covertly hidden door, and the website lists the location as "on a need to know basis," so you'll only find it by word of mouth), you’ll be able to order your drinks based on strength, as the menu ranks each item by alcohol content.
5. The Union & The Bureau, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Internet will tell you The Union & The Bureau is “permanently closed," but that’s just part of the mystique, as the dual bars are very much alive and kicking off. The bars appear as a townhouse on an unlikely street, that you’ll only find if you can spot the black number “16” on the front of the building. If you can find it, you’ll be granted access to The Union, which is the speakeasy’s front bar, and if a regular of staff member deems you worthy, you might be lucky enough to get invited to The Bureau. The Bureau bar is more exclusive than The Union, can only be accessed via The Union, and is on an invite only basis.
6. Little Red Door, Paris, France
The name of this bar should give away it’s location—it’s behind a little red door, of course! Located in the 3rd Arrondissement, the Little Red Door bar is cozy with a typically Parisian buzzy atmosphere. The bar also holds “Over The Top Sunday”, where they serve crazily creative cocktails. There’s also some delicious looking appetizers to go with your drinks. Of course, it wouldn’t be Paris without the impressively decadent and thoughtful snacks.
7. Disco Dining Club, Los Angeles, USA
The Disco Dining Club is a new addition to LA’s underground scene, and you’ll get to visit it on Bravo’s Going Off The Menu. At the Disco Dining Club you’ll find guests in crazy costumes (so don’t be afraid to dress up!), oysters, drinks, a DJ spinning vinyl and plenty of dancing all night long. You’ll only find out the location of the venue AFTER you book a ticket--so put your faith in the Disco Dining Club and be prepared to trek across town if you have to.