Cocktails & Speakeasies: Prime 10 Speakeasies in Central Florida


Orlando arrived slightly late to the speakeasy get together.

We’re a number of a long time faraway from the Nineteen Twenties when the Prohibition period compelled many institutions to maintain their existence secret.

The phrase “speakeasy” originated in England and Eire within the nineteenth century when unlawful ingesting institutions wanted secrecy. Therefore, clients had been requested to talk quietly whereas inside to keep away from detection.

You’ll be able to say it out loud lately, and most significantly, wine and dine with out authorized penalties. And sure, some passwords are nonetheless required at sure areas and there are even hard-to-find entrances at sone areas. Nonetheless, Orlando has a really welcoming vibe for anybody wishing to take pleasure in a novel cocktail expertise.

“I believe what makes a speakeasy cocktail bar a speakeasy cocktail bar is a hidden entrance or a password or an absence of signage, one thing like that,” mentioned Rene Nguyen, proprietor of Hanson’s Shoe Restore in downtown Orlando. “As a result of it dates again to the speakeasies that existed throughout the Prohibition period.”

Orlando didn’t catch on till The Courtesy opened in 2012. It’s thought-about the oldest devoted craft cocktail bar in Central Florida. The road will get blurry between craft cocktail bars and speakeasies, which has a extra secretive really feel.

Orlando journal has included a mixture of each, together with some themed speakeasies that put a bit extra pop within the leisure and theater worth.

Our major objective is to spotlight a number of the finest locations to get an incredible drink in Central Florida (and one cool outlier) should you’re within the temper for one thing extra unique than a light-weight beer or rum and Coke.
“We’ve got to rise to the event,” mentioned Gene Zimmerman, the proprietor of The Courtesy. “We need to have a really distinctive touch-tone cocktail expertise if cocktails are your factor.”

As soon as The Courtesy popped, others adopted and the pattern has continued through the years.

Listed here are a few of our favorites.

The Courtesy

1288 N. Orange Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789 |

On the threat of being labeled a speakeasy elitist, Gene Zimmerman isn’t large on secret knocks and passwords.

“Hate that,” he mentioned. “I don’t need guidelines. I simply need a drink.”

Extra particularly, a wonderfully crafted cocktail, which is the purpose and goal of The Courtesy.
Zimmerman and his spouse Diana established what’s thought-about Orlando’s first devoted craft cocktail bar in 2012 at a downtown location. They moved in Could 2022, marking their very own territory simply miles away. “The tagline, our mantra, once we opened, is ‘the pleasure is ours, the Courtesy yours,’” Zimmerman mentioned. “We need to maintain that ethos of hospitality first, with quality-based, a brilliant, tremendous shut second, and innovation.”

Attempt the 4 Founders, a mix of scotch, barrel-aged cachaca, quinine aperitif, with pineapple and passionfruit bitters. Or a Good Shot, gingerbread spiced rye.

“Whenever you’re distinctive, it has this really feel, like this visceral emotion that grabs you while you are available,” Zimmerman mentioned. “The odor, the look, the personalities, all of that, it’s like, that’s the place I need to go. That’s what by no means will get tiring for me.”

Hanson’s Shoe Restore is a classy, password-entry speakeasy that serves craft cocktails. (ROBERTO GONZALEZ)

Hanson’s Shoe Restore

27 East Pine Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801 | 407.476.9446 |

You want a password to get into Hanson’s Shoe Restore in downtown Orlando.

Some people could think about this cheeky and gimmicky. And though it’s simple to attach the dots to the Prohibition period when passwords had been a layer of safety from regulation enforcement, there’s a modern-day goal as effectively.

“We do change it day-after-day,” mentioned proprietor Rene Nguyen. “However the good factor about having the password is it means each visitor that is available in there’s there in a purposeful method. They selected to be there. They didn’t simply stumble off the road. It’s not a foot visitors clientele.”

“What the passwords allowed us to do, together with the fashion of bartending that we do, the ambiance, the music, every little thing that we’ve rigorously curated over the past ten years, what it’s allowed us to do is curate this clientele base that’s simply superior.”

Established in 2013, Hanson’s is likely one of the unique speakeasies in Orlando. The identify comes from the earlier enterprise that occupied the area, “Hanson Shoe Restore Store,” when Andrew Hanson acquired it in 1894. The constructing dates again to 1884, and it’s regarded as the oldest constructing nonetheless standing in downtown Orlando.

It’s now a two-tiered cocktail bar expertise. There’s a bar downstairs known as Bauhaus and a stairway that results in Hanson’s, which requires a password. Prospects can name to get the day by day password.

It’s a good match wherever you find yourself. The capability upstairs is 35, together with the upstairs patio. Sitting choices embrace two two-tops and a stitching desk.

However after all, the primary draw is the cocktails, and Hanson’s has a superb choice of concoctions created by Nguyen. It’s been his child since day one.

“For me personally and what we do at Hanson’s, we don’t actually give attention to opponents,” Nguyen mentioned. “We simply do our factor. We don’t have a look at it as a contest. We’ve all the time felt like we’ve our ethos of what we expect our bar needs to be, and we simply follow that. It’s served us fairly effectively.”

Devin Anthony Abreu Working associate at Mather’s Social Gathering. (ROBERTO GONZALEZ)

Mathers Social Gathering

30 S. Magnolia Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801 | 407.745.1185 |

Essentially the most difficult activity when visiting Mathers isn’t deciding which classic cocktail to order. You’ll have to get in first. No password, however suffice it to say it could be a problem discovering the best way to get inside when you step exterior the elevator and onto the third flooring. The man sitting down on the typewriter could or could not offer you a clue.

When you’re in, you’ll need to keep. Mathers hits all of the checkmarks for a wonderful speakeasy: Nice drinks (all made with contemporary components); Ambiance and; A historic constructing that’s simple on the eyes. Mathers even incorporates a burlesque present each Tuesday and Saturday night time.

Mathers presents an immersive expertise. With sure exceptions. No TVs.

“We attempt to present an environment that helps remind folks to remain within the second,” mentioned Devin Abreu, one of many managing companions and bar supervisor. “Our music ranges are designed to have the ability to be loud sufficient the place we will hear one another however low sufficient that our neighbor can’t hear us.”

It’s simple to disregard the sounds when there are such a lot of sights. A swinging velvet loveseat is an inviting picture op for lovers and others with loads of sharable appetizers. In case you have a candy tooth, you may take a look at some classic sweet in a turn-of-the-century-style basic retailer tucked right into a nook.

Leather-based couches. Oriental rugs. Trendy, darkish wooden and uncovered brick replicate a mode from the constructing’s origins. Previously a furnishings retailer and a submit workplace, it additionally survived a fireplace in 1884 that destroyed neighboring institutions.

The 4,500-square-foot area had lived in its incarnated kind since 2017, when brothers Keith, Romi, and Daniel Mawardi purchased the constructing and introduced alongside Abreu for his craft cocktail experience to design the menu.

“It’s an exquisite concord of issues as a result of these guys don’t know (bleep) about drinks,” Abreu mentioned jokingly.

Enterprise is nice. The brothers are increasing areas to incorporate Tampa and Jacksonville. However the unique stays the usual.

“It’s for locals and individuals who journey to expertise a classic native bar,” Abreu mentioned. “Since you’re ingesting in a museum. This is part of historical past.”

The Bounty

414 Flagler Avenue, New Smyrna Seashore, FL 32169 | 386.402.8861 |

The Bounty has a definite ambiance: Comfortable, cozy, and approachable.

It’s why we included it as our favourite outlier.

The Bounty is tucked away amongst a cluster of seaside bars alongside Flagler Avenue in New Smyrna Seashore, on a second-floor perch above Flagler Tavern. On Sundays, the downstairs folks come for the get together, the music, and the soccer. The folks upstairs come for the crafted cocktails and the intimate expertise.

“I’ve been right here at one o’clock within the morning, and I’ve seen grandparents mingling with youngsters which are simply turning 21, and so they’re speaking about, ‘What’s your favourite spirit? Do you need to have a cigar with me?’” mentioned Kristin Chmielewski, the Bounty’s basic supervisor. “It’s only a actually attention-grabbing area that brings folks collectively.”

An attention-grabbing area certainly. In-built 1928 as a single-family dwelling, the upstairs space has morphed into the one speakeasy on this little seaside city. It’s a small area indoors, restricted to 30 folks. Nevertheless, an add-on deck brings the capability to 100.

However inside is the place the speakeasy vibe is—all of the wooden from flooring to ceiling is reclaimed from the unique constructing. There’s a functioning lifeboat hanging the other way up from the ceiling, a church pew, and a hearth that was the picturesque centerpiece of a marriage reception a number of months again.

In fact, we might be remiss if we didn’t point out the drinks. Throughout the holidays, there was a seasonal mix of cocktails, together with the Island of Misfit Cookies. The common drink menu contains the King Richard (named for a loyal buyer) and a one ounce pour that prices $500. The Bounty has its personal Buffalo Hint barrel.

Whereas open throughout the day, the motion is at night time: “All of the lights go down. All the things up right here glows crimson. We placed on tremendous chill, like low-fi prohibition period, the ’20s, hip-beat music.”

One last item: Search for the staircase on the primary flooring. The Bounty has no signage, which is a part of the mystique.

“It’s elusive,” Chmielewski mentioned. “We’re just like the unicorn.”

BANDBOX, a non-alcoholic bar, serves a rum strawberry drink known as a shrub. (ROBERTO GONZALEZ)


1817 N. Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32804 | 407.618.0434 |

The BANDBOX is an acquired style. A speakeasy that serves non-alcoholic drinks is akin to a hamburger joint that solely sells veggie burgers.

But it surely works. Splendidly.

Proprietor Kevin Zepf has created an inviting and intimate area off Orange Avenue in Ivanhoe Village on the outskirts of downtown. Step in, and also you’re a time traveler. You’re within the Nineteen Twenties, surrounded by interval items, pictures, and memorabilia, together with hats and books. You’ll be able to even purchase some memorabilia, which incorporates scented candles in a cocktail glass. There’s even a piano and picture sales space to seize the second.

It’s a comfortable place with a good match. Capability is 10, which features a employees of two or three, relying on the night time. Do the maths, and you might have the place to yourselves on a double date (reservations are extremely really helpful).

The ambiance is ideal. All you want now could be a cocktail. You’ll be able to order the Excessive Hat, a whiskey maple smoked quaint ($10), or Hassle in Paradise, a tequila ardour fruit margarita ($8), or possibly a Thomson and Scott Noughty, a Rosé/Chardonnay ($7 a glass, $27 for the bottle).
Some drinks are absolutely zero-proofed; some wines have 0.5 % or much less of alcohol. There are additionally CBD drinks on the menu.

All of it provides as much as the imaginative and prescient that Zepf created in June 2022 when he opened the place.

“It’s the alternative of what Prohibition was, however in a spot the place you may have an intimate drink or lounge setting that you may’t get anyplace else proper now aside from a espresso store,” he mentioned.
It’s possible you’ll even get an opportunity to see character-themed performers on sure nights, together with Zepf, wearing a tuxedo. You’re welcome to decorate up as effectively in interval apparel.

“We’ve got lots of people that possibly gown up after they are available sporting Gatsby apparel,” Zepf mentioned. “We encourage that. We don’t do a gown code right here per se, however we do encourage people to come back in, gown it up slightly bit, so that they really feel nearly as good because the place round them.”

“It’s very stylish and fabulous.”


Otto’s Excessive Dive

2304 E. Robinson Avenue, Orlando, FL 32803 | 321.231.7902 |

Otto’s is the proverbial new child on the town, having opened in December 2022. However truthful warning: They arrive to play.

It’s not your traditional speakeasy. We’re speaking a few crafted cocktail expertise (there are 32 to select from), nice meals, and a novel idea.

The imaginative and prescient for opening Otto’s is impressed by the grandfather of one of many enterprise companions, Giovanni Fernandez. His grandfather used to personal a bar throughout the Nineteen Forties-’50s in Manzanillo, Cuba. The opposite enterprise companions—Justin Levaughn, Elise Sabatino, Sean Pagan, and Chris Munro—tried to recreate that vibe.

“All the things pays homage to the area,” Levaughn mentioned. “It’s a chunk of historical past.”

Come on all the way down to the Milk District and take a look.

These 32 drinks embrace the Cuban customary, the mojito, a rum drink that’s refreshingly cool throughout the scorching summer time months. However crafted cocktails are all about innovation, which is why you will discover the guava pastelito on the bar menu. Impressed by a Cuban dessert, the drink will get its uptick with a Plantation Isle of Fiji rum and Creme De Noyaux.

“These are all originals, not simply the classics,” mentioned Levaughn, a bartender by coronary heart who has labored at The Courtesy and The Ritz Carlton. “In fact, we make the most effective mojito you’ve ever had.”
There’s additionally a mixture of traditional Cuban music within the air to finish the eating and ingesting expertise.
Prospects have walked away impressed.

“From the second I walked inside, I used to be in love with the vibe right here,” mentioned Demi A. in a Yelp overview. “It’s a Cuban-inspired bar with a beautiful mid-century contact. I’m coming again to strive their espresso no doubt. Fantastic first-time expertise.”

The Guesthouse. (ROBERTO GONZALEZ)

Sunroom & The Guesthouse

Sunroom: 1315 N Mills Avenue, Orlando, FL 32803 | 407.630.6574

The Guesthouse: 1321 N Mills Avenue, Orlando, FL 32803 | 407.630.6574 |

Kristian Sirani has been across the cocktail beverage/restaurant block a number of instances. He opened the BarBQBar in 1998. Took over the Sapphire Supper Membership and turned it into the Social and launched Sky60 and EyeSpy in historic downtown Orlando.

These visions have morphed into one: Positioned on Mills Avenue, the block brings a two-for-one expertise for the reason that Sunroom is tucked subsequent to its sister bar, the Guesthouse.

“The concept was easy—a bar the place everybody and anybody felt welcome,” he wrote on the Guesthouse web site. “Inexpensive drinks in a enjoyable atmosphere.”

Sirani wears a variety of hats on the Sunroom: Bartender, Beverage Director and Normal Supervisor.
His concoctions embrace “The Backyard Gloves,” which mixes smoky mezcal, bitter chartreuse, and a peppery Ancho Reyes liqueur with citrus juice and sweetener.

The place was bustling on a latest Friday night time, principally stuffed with 20-and 30-somethings getting their weekend began correctly. Prospects there checklist the martini and old school amongst their favorites.

“They’ve the most effective drinks and scenic ambiance, and it pulls all people in,” mentioned Tom Frazier of Orlando, who was there on a date night time.

Truthful warning: They restrict parking alongside the again, so you might have to go for road parking alongside Mills Avenue.

At The Sunroom, they provide personal leases and the temper lighting at night time creates a romantic vibe.
“Sunroom is the sort of bar you need to brag about but additionally need to maintain a secret as a result of it’s simply so good!” Ashley S wrote in a Yelp overview. “We like to make a date night time out of it. Their drinks are so scrumptious that I choose a random drink and know I’m going to take pleasure in it.”

Cocktails and Screams

39 West Pine Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801 | 407.904.0124 |

Boo-hoo. This could come as no shocker.

Cocktails & Screams is Orlando’s solely Halloween-themed bar. “Cease In For A Spell, And Keep For The Boo’s,” it says on the web site.

Established in 2018, the area presents numerous experiences for company, together with Sunday brunch and The Craft Speakeasy, each requiring reservations.

As you’d count on, the drinks have a scary and spooky attraction. You’ll be able to order “Franks Stein,” “Uncle Fester,” and “Attractive Satan.” And should you’re hungry, the brunch menu presents “The Dexter Morgan,” an homage to a TV serial killer. You’ll be able to wash that down with “The Leather-based Face.”
Followers of the horror style have come away impressed.

“Cocktails and Screams might be the most effective bar in downtown Orlando,” mentioned Molly Lowman, a frequent buyer. “Superb music and enjoyable for a lot of age teams. Enjoyable Halloween/satanic theme. Photograph ops are in every single place! And I like the music—90s grunge, Pink Scorching Chili Peppers, Evanescence.”

“Don’t miss your alternative to go to this place!” JoAnn E. wrote in a Yelp overview final November. “Essentially the most wonderful ambiance, delectable meals, and ingenious drinks! The bar director deserves a spherical of applause. He gave us a private tour, made our drinks himself, and launched us to the house owners. I felt like household.”

Plan to surrender a number of further digits if you need a extra intimate expertise. A reserving within the Addams Household VIP room entitles you and your company (for a celebration between 6 and 10) entry for the night. The full value of $666 features a $333 bar tab. Gratuity shouldn’t be included.

Simply bear in mind, the vibe is horror, with a shot of comedy.

“No matter expertise you will have, don’t take it to coronary heart,” a warlock says within the promotional video for the speakeasy. “Or we could have to tear it out of your fairly little chest.”

You’ve been warned!


The Treehouse

68 E. Pine Avenue, Orlando FL, 32801 | 407.883.4694

The Treehouse lives as much as speakeasy traditions.

You’ll need to search for the inexperienced door with the T-shaped deal with to get into The Treehouse in downtown Orlando. Shhh. Don’t inform anybody however your closest buddies.

Simply go up the inexperienced stairs and step inside. You’ll be immersed in a whole craft cocktail expertise together with a superb choice of craft beers. You would possibly need to sit down and savor a drink within the signature giant bathtub with the “Get Bare” neon signal within the background.

The Treehouse, which opened in December 2014, has a good however cozy really feel. Dimly lit, intimate area, and an incredible place to carry a small group of buddies. The demographics run to the youthful facet, within the 20-something to the 30-something vary.

Thumbs up from locals, and people simply passing by.

“I’ve been coming to Treehouse for about two years, and it looks like dwelling,” Evan S. wrote in a Yelp overview. “That is my ‘go-to’ bar in downtown Orlando. The bartenders are wonderful and personable, and the employees are additionally pleasant. I might suggest this institution to anybody and everybody who’s searching for a enjoyable night time in town!”

Therefore, why administration calls The Treehouse “Orlando’s coziest cocktail bar.”

Jewel Orlando

6400 Service Drive, Orlando, FL 32819 | 321.444.5306 |

Jewel is a super-sized speakeasy.

Positioned within the Pirates Dinner Journey advanced that features Teatro Martini, Jewel presents a novel soundtrack to associate with the cocktails: Dueling pianists encompassing a wide range of musical genres; Singers (together with “Ms. Wiggle Waters”) belting out traditional and up to date songs; and viewers participation when music requests are made.

“We had such a blast right here!” wrote Ondrea in a Journey Advisor overview. “I hardly ever write evaluations, however this place deserves it! I totally loved the Teatro Martini present & deliberate to depart afterward. Nevertheless, after strolling through the Jewel to exit, the dueling pianos bought my consideration.

“These guys had been hilarious! It’s a significantly better comedy act than the precise present! They did enjoyable singalongs & interacted with your complete crowd, drawing everybody in. They inserted their very own very comical lyrics to in style songs. Finest date night time in ceaselessly.”

However should you’re thirsty, Jewel has you lined as effectively. Its drink menu contains the Home Basic Sidecar, and one of many Signature Cocktails, the Singapore Sling.

“That is my favourite place in Orlando to expertise Dueling Pianos,” wrote Jason S. in a Yelp overview. “The speakeasy vibe makes it such a extra enjoyable atmosphere than the touristy golf equipment. The piano gamers had been completely wonderful and very personable. That is such a hidden gem, and I extremely suggest Jewel.”

Jewel additionally presents a Roulette, Blackjack or Craps desk for charity gaming, with the proceeds going to rotating charities. Company can commerce of their winnings for prizes.

Jewel is open Thursday by Saturday, 6:30 p.m. to midnight. The dueling pianos begin at 8:30 p.m. and reservations are strongly really helpful.

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