Speakeasies or Hidden Bars in Buenos Aires
A speakeasy, also called a blind pig or blind tiger, is an illicit establishment that sells alcoholic beverages. Such establishments came into prominence in the United States during the Prohibition era (1920–1933, longer in some states). During that time, the sale, manufacture, and transportation (bootlegging) of alcoholic beverages was illegal throughout the United States.
Speakeasies largely disappeared after Prohibition ended in 1933, and the term is now often used to describe retro style bars.
The revival of speakeasies, now often referred to as Hidden Bars are a growing trend in many capitals of the world. Buenos Aires is no exception. Although it is no longer forbidden to drink alcohol, they still retain an air of secrecy, as it is not always so easy to access them.
The concept or idea of hidden bars arrived in Argentina, more specifically in some Buenos Aires neighborhoods, almost a decade ago. It is aimed at a public that seeks not only to identify with the spaces it visits – becoming habitués – but also to cultivate a playful or privacy side that encourages the customer-bar relationship.
That is precisely what makes them so attractive: being part of a community, a subculture. For one-time visitors the effort you have to put in to find them & enter. The aura of doing something illegal !
Of course you can find them. Yet, in some cases, Google Maps won’t do you any good, as most of these secret bars have perfect camouflage. Some of them have hidden doors, so they are accessed only by invitation, a prior reservation or others even through a password. That is why they are known as speakeasy or hidden bar.
Here is where to find them!
Buenos Aires is well known for its nightlife and the city is at its best when its sultry clandestine culture awakens. To cut short your research and stop you from getting frustrated, here we present 10 hidden bars that you should know & try out when you next visit Buenos Aires:
Frank’s is one of the pioneers of the hidden bars in BA & maybe also the most famous one. To enter you need a password which changes every week. You’ll need to guess through clues that are published on the bar’s Facebook page. In the old telephone box you find at the entrance, one has to dial a number to access a secret door. That door leads to an internal alley and only then do you get to the bar.
The bar is set like an American club from the 1920s, it is extremely luxurious and elegant and its strong point is the classic cocktails. Try to Beet Purple when you’re there! Find out how to make it when watching this video.
With Buenos Aires still under lockdown, space at Frank’s is limited. With some luck you might get the last ticket for you and 7 friends.
Arévalo 1443. When to go: Open from Wednesday to Saturday from 9pm to 4am.
The “NICKY HARRISON” is a Peruvian-Japanese fusion cuisine restaurant located in Palermo Soho, a few meters from Plaza Armenia.
Its 100% New York-inspired décor brings diners straight to the Big Apple. In 2016 it was chosen one of the World’s 50 Best Bars by Lonely Planet. I don’t know what happened because in 2019 they did not even make it in the top 100.
Located in Palermo and hidden behind a sushi restaurant, this bar can only be accessed by voice to voice, that is, when a person with access to the bar can refer you. Many restaurant patrons approach waiters after dinner to be directed to the bar, which is sometimes successful. Inside the bar you can hear jazz, swing and live music, as the whole atmosphere is inspired by the era of Prohibition in New York.
Malábia 1764. When to go: Open Tuesday to Saturday from 10pm to 2am
Housed in a period building in the cosmopolitan streets of Buenos Aires, Presidente is a glamour spot for nightlife fashionistas. With a glowing back-lit bar, high ceilings and original features throughout, the aesthetics are rich.
But in drinks, atmosphere and service this place goes beyond the style bar, offering the full package. This is the kind of venue you don’t pop by – it’s a night out, a destination to be savored, as your evening develops and the bar reacts through the gears.
Though locally famed for its flamboyant cocktails and venerable collection of spirits, Presidente is equally adept at showcasing Argentina’s fare, with homely-but-refined food and the best of the country’s wines and sparklers receiving appropriate attention. In Sebastián García, Presidente has one of Argentina’s top talents overseeing the bar’s operations – his reputation as a drink smith is unparalleled in these parts, as is his following, making this a busy, up-tempo visit every night of the week.
Presidente brims with life, but for more considered drinking, there’s a classy speakeasy, the ‘library’ for the insiders, situated to its rear. Dare to order the famous house drink, Negroni. Or the Martín Ávalos’, alias the chef, varied menu with creative dishes in the greenhouse.
World’s Best Bar # 33 in 2019
In the Palermo Hollywood neighborhood, Uptown is one of the most striking hidden bars. Completely hidden, this bar is betrayed by the long line to enter that there is almost always. The most original thing is that if its entrance seems to be a subway station, it even goes through an original wagon as part of the route to get to the bar. In addition to cocktails, it offers a food menu inspired by New York gastronomy. His head chef is also Casa Rosada’s head chef, Dante Liporace.
Arévalo 2030 When to go: Open from Tuesday to Saturday from 8.30pm to close
One imagines Florería Atlántico must have had some surprised visitors in its time, entered as it is through the nondescript door of a florist, but this is an ‘everyone’s welcome’ sort of speakeasy, attracting a wide-ranging Buenos Aires crowd to the old docks of the Argentinian capital.
Indeed, Florería Atlántico’s whole premise is to celebrate the good and the great of Argentina, a country the produce of which is rich and varied, born out of diverse climates and centuries of immigration. The bar’s décor and drinks continue this narrative, telling the stories of the American bartenders who brought the culture of cocktails, the English and the Dutch with their gin and genever, the wines (and amaros) of the Italians, Spanish, French and Portuguese.
Native American culture features with forgotten ingredients brought to the fore of the Buenos Aires drinking scene. Far from being another clone of an international concept, Aline Vargas and Renato Giovannoni’s Florería Atlántico – voted the The Best Bar in South America 2019, and #3 of Worlds50BestBars, – goes its own way. It’s an ode to its country, its products and its people.
Arroyo 872 When to go: It opens from Monday to Friday from 7:00 p.m. to closing. Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 p.m. to closing.
Victoria Brown is inspired by the Victorian era, one of the most revolutionary chapters in history, which meant great changes in industry, art and literature. A mixture of tradition and modernity, the bar is a celebration of the power of the most important invention of the last century: the machine. Gears in motion, noise of royal machines, it all works under the watchful eye of Queen Victoria and her secret lover.
Hidden behind a cafe, is Victoria Brown, a bar behind a false brick wall that is pushed to discover one of the most attractive places in Buenos Aires.
Costa Rica 4803 When to go: Open from Wednesday to Saturday from 9pm to 4am
878 or ‘El Ocho’
You can find 878 (ocho siete ocho, or El Ocho to locals) at Thames 878 on a quiet, tree-flanked street in Villa Crespo. As the city’s first true speakeasy purveyor, owner Julián Díaz set the standard for underground cocktail culture in Buenos Aires when Díaz opened Casa Chai in 2002, a certifiably illegal, true-blue speakeasy. Moving on to 878 in 2004 and now 11 years legit, 878 is the most welcoming and laid back of the city’s hidden bars, as you instantly feel well-received and warmly welcomed upon entrance, something that can be quite rare in speakeasy circuits. You don’t need any fancy codes to enter, just an address.
Opening its doors at 7pm with an hour dedicated to vermouth, the bar runs well into the morning hours. On many occasions, the back portion of the bar is transformed into an experimental space, with analog music playing as a backdrop to mysterious projections. But every night, you can find an exceptional cocktail list, with both novel and classic drinks, a bar menu that always delivers, a wine list with unique Argentine varietals and an enchanting atmosphere that’s authentic and delightfully free of pomposity.
Thames 878 When to go: Monday to Friday from 7:00 p.m. to closing. Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00 p.m. to closing.
is a hidden bar located in the Belgrano neighborhood, in Buenos Aires. A lost door in the Chinatown, which without a sign to the street, hides one of the most original bars in the city. Inside the bar, a very exclusive atmosphere is hidden, decorated with dim lights and chandeliers. There you will find an interesting drink menu as well as special events and a kitchen with signature dishes of the most varied of international cuisine.
Juramento 1667 When to go: Open from Tuesday to Saturday from 7pm.
Hidden behind a pizzeria, this secret bar offers you a cocktail menu by renowned bartender Mona Gallosi. The bar pretends to be a real cobbled street, with high brick walls and an impressive bar. There you can enjoy an urban space with live DJs and surrounded by graffiti. Without a doubt, one of the most creative and original bars in the city.
Niceto Vega 4942 When to go: It opens from Tuesday to Sunday from 8:00 p.m. to closing.
This bar located in Palermo invites you to explore Europe through the Expresso del Oriente, where in each of its spaces we find a decoration appropriate to the theme. The atmosphere, music and cocktails of this hidden bar transport you to another world.
J.W. Bradley is a speakeasy bar with a proposal of international signature cuisine, intended for those who seek a completely different experience with the highest quality in each of their dishes and cocktails offered.
Godoy Cruz 1875
There is a hidden bar for everyone’s taste in this amazing city.
But as long as we are kept under lockdown we’ll have to wait ! I promise every one of you to keep you posted ! An exotic coctail is waiting for you !