Want a new way to explore the Eternal City? Complete with passwords and secret doors, Rome speakeasies offer a fantastic way to check out local nightlife!
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One of my favorite new things I’ve discovered since moving to Europe are speakeasies! Not every city has them, but it’s a fun way to explore when they do. We’ve found great ones in Berlin and Bratislava, but Italy tends to have fewer of them.
Speakeasy culture is pretty much what it sounds like. Secret or semi-secret bars that boast quality cocktails. Typically they have a theme – often classic 1920’s Prohibition era, but certainly not every time. They can require a password and/or a hunt for the actual building.
Planning and Finding Speakeasies
In general, it’s a good idea to make reservations, especially if you’re more than two people. I cannot tell you how disappointing it is to finally track one down only to not get in the door!
I include locations here only because they’re easily available on the internet, given by the speakeasies themselves. In general, I’m all for the verbal descriptions to find the spots when there’s no address given – finding it is part of the fun!
In general, bring cash. The vast majority don’t do credit cards, if for no other reason than many are underground!
Keep in mind that you’re going for the experience and for high-quality cocktails, so the drinks are a bit pricier than the average bar. Usually their signature cocktails run 12-15€ per drink. Many also require a membership fee. In Rome, these range from 3-10€, and it’s usually a one time fee.
Also, they don’t love it when you take photos inside or use your phone. Speakeasies are meant to be an old-school, technology-free experience. So forgive the bad photos snuck when I could.
The Jerry Thomas Project
This one is first for a reason: it’s the best Rome speakeasy!! Jerry Thomas was a pioneer in mixology, so naming the speakeasy after him feels like a no brainer.
The Jerry Thomas Project is a classic dark bar with a password you have to find before knocking. The walls are lined with vintage photos and liquor bottles, and the bar is beautifully backlit. It’s all very hipster in the best possible way. Their specialty cocktail menu is extensive and caters to a variety of cocktail styles, so there will be something for everyone. The only catch? They don’t do vodka. They’re too cool for that.
On Thursday-Sunday, definitely make a reservation. I’ve been without one and we just barely squeezed in to stand in a corner – still cool, but missing a touch of ambiance that way. I also watched the person who arrived right after us try to buy his way in and they did not take kindly to it! 😉
Not far from Jerry Thomas sits Argot, another classic spot. Their vibe has a decidedly more Parisian feel, and much more industrial decor.
Their menu is set up like a prescription pad – each drink is prescribed to combat a phobia. This is a spot where it’s especially good to chat with the bartender and get his opinions – it’s hard to get a feel for what the drink actually tastes like from the ingredient list alone, but they can describe the flavor profile. I had a twist on a Negroni with fig syrup and it was amazing! They can also serve you whatever you want from the bar, but I think it’s always worth trying something adventurous at a speakeasy.
Club Derrière is is right outside Piazza delle Coppelle. It adds a jazz twist to the classic moody lighting, velvet couches and candles everywhere. The cocktails are excellent, with great unique options and a full bar to make whatever may want. This place also felt like the biggest space of all the Rome speakeasies I checked out. Bonus points if you find the bathroom – it’s hidden behind a false wall!
Keyhole sits in Trastevere, and felt like the most local crowd when we visited. You can tell that most of the crowd comes in every weekend and have become friends with the staff, which I love in a bar.
Keyhole is deceptively hard to find. It has an iconic door, so you’d think you can’t miss it. But the door disappears during the day and only reappears when the bar is open. That’s all I’ll say about that to not ruin the effect!
Unlike most speakeasies, Keyhole doesn’t have a menu. Order whatever you typically get at a bar for a great cocktail!
Other Rome speakeasies
There are several more that I haven’t been to myself. Eventually I want to try them all, but these are next few on my list!
The next most recommended one is Barber Shop. Like the name implies, it’s inside a barber shop and carries the theme through. There’s a bit of a dress code here and reservations are strongly advised.
The Race Club
This one sits near Barber Shop, so you can easily do them both in one night. The Race Club has a good reputation – a friend of mine who’s been to all of them specifically mentioned that this was her favorite!
Circolo Coda di Gallo
Circolo requires reservations so plan ahead, but makes it a bit easier by allowing you to do it online. Located in the Campo di Fiori area, it’s near a bunch of good restaurants to start the evening off well!
Again, I’ve heard really good things about this one, but it sits pretty far out of the city. You’d need to plan ahead and get a cab for Spirito. Their website says they also offer brunch sometimes, so that sounds
That’s my list! You better believe that I’ll be trying the rest next time I’m in Rome. If you’ve been to any of these, I’d love to hear what you think!!
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