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Inside a cocktail bar.
Captain’s Quarters.
Kimberly Motos

17 Speakeasies to Check Out in San Diego

A roundup of unique cocktail bars hidden across town

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Captain’s Quarters.
| Kimberly Motos

Often hiding in plain sight, speakeasy bars hold more than just mystery. San Diego boasts an array of hidden bars, most of which are tucked behind a secret entrance or require an exclusive code for entry. A product of the Prohibition era, these darkened places started as underground bars where alcoholic drinks were sold illegally. These days, speakeasies are known for offering an intimate cocktail experience, with some bars serving snacks or even full-course meals, while others focus on rare spirits or eye-catching libations.

Here are some of the best secret cocktail spots to explore in the city.

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Raised by Wolves

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Tucked behind a bottle shop at Westfield UTC, this award-winning speakeasy transports guests to an intimate gathering space decorated with velvet chairs and a white marble fountain under an emerald-colored glass dome. Cocktails from the bar’s reserve list are a must as they’re crafted with rare spirits, like the Old Fashioned mixed with 1950s Stitzel Weller Old Fitzgerald Bourbon.

Arlene Ibarra

Forbidden Cove

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Situated next to Kilowatt Brewing in Kearny Mesa, this tiki-inspired den is covered in fishing floats, bamboo, and tropical plants. An assortment of beer cocktails made with fruit purees and tropical flavors are part of the menu, as well as sours from Kilowatt and even beers from the brewery if you notify the bartender in the neighboring taproom by pressing a special button. Reservations are recommended and can be made online. The brewery’s Oceanside location has its own speakeasy, called Space Pad, that seats 24 guests and features cocktails inspired by designed by Cristian Diaz, who served as the lead bartender at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at Disneyland.

Realm Of The 52 Remedies

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Located inside Common Theory, this gorgeously-designed bar is fronted by a modern apothecary filled with Chinese herbs and tonics. Smoked pork ribs and Korean fried quail are just some of the highlights from the food menu while the cocktails are always innovative and intriguing, changing often but always highlighting Asian ingredients and spirits.

James Tran

Convoy Music Bar

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With a hidden entrance off an alley, this is an elegant space that takes after the listening bars of Tokyo. A place where “music comes first and sound matters most,” the vinyl record soundtrack is transmitted through a custom-built sound system imported from Japan, providing a soothing and stylish setting for cocktails that focus on the classics.

Convoy Music Bar

Captain's Quarters

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The luxe, nautical-themed speakeasy from the creative minds at SDCM (The Grass Skirt, Kettner Exhange) invites guests to climb aboard an immersive space fashioned like an old sailing ship to sip on a gin-forward cocktail menu that includes gin and tonics on draft and gin classic like a Corpse Reviver and the Martinez, a precursor to the Martini.

A large bar.
The cocktail bar.
Kimberly Motos

The Grass Skirt

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After walking through a refrigerator door, a fog-filled lava rock tunnel leads the way into a spacious tropical bar filled with booths, fire pit tables, and swings. Paired with small plates and snacks, the cocktails range from the classic to tiki favorites and shareable punch bowls.

James Tran

Oculto 477

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A cozy nook inside Old Town mezcaleria Tahona, Oculto 477 puts a modern twist on Prohibition-era drinks. For those feeling a bit more spontaneous, the Dealer’s Choice calls for a unique libation made with your preferred spirit and style. For an even more surprising cocktail, try the Risk It All: roll three dice and see what ingredients they land on — that’ll decide what’s to be mixed in your cup.

Arlene Ibarra

Bar Three Piece

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This bar hiding within Seven Grand houses almost 300 bottles of whiskey in a space that features hardwood floors, oil lanterns, booths, and a private patio where cigars imported from Nicaragua can be paired with a glass of whiskey and enjoyed outside. Make sure to check out the bar’s Instagram page for weekly offers and specials on whiskey tastings and flights.

Bar Three Piece / Instagram

Mothership

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A sister bar to the Kindred, this far-out bar turned space odyssey serves heavy-hitting tropical drinks like the Heliotropic, a twist on a Mai Tai with kumquats and other exotic flavors. To accompany the drinks, Mothership also offers a vegan “Earth Food” menu.

James Tran

Shibuya Nights

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Cloak & Petal’s bonus bar, located in the back of the venue, continues its Tokyo underground aesthetic with bursts of colors and art inspired by the Harajuku district. The space serves a menu of Asian fusion dishes and offers a Monday through Thursday happy hour that features deals on sushi rolls, beer, sake, wine, and cocktails.

Shibuya Nights

False Idol

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Beyond a secret door at Craft & Commerce hides this Polynesian-inspired, all-encompassing tiki experience. Decked out in fire and ice decor, with an indoor waterfall and a volcano as part of the design, the bar’s menu features rum-based tropical pours, unique drinks with flavors like taro and ube, and cocktails to share.

Brogen Jessup

Vin de Syrah

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This subterranean venue takes its inspiration from New York’s meatpacking district and Parisian brasseries. Equipped with a menu centered on cheeses, desserts, wine, and beer along with a cocktail list that changes each season. The wine list features over 100 different bottles and the bar bites include charcuterie boards, goat cheese balls, and paninis. The bar’s twelve-foot tasting table and weekend wine tastings are a must.

Vin de Syrah / SDCM Restaurant Group

Room 56

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The Gaslamp’s Moxy hotel features this private bar which can only be entered upon looking up the secret code on a mysterious website. After going beyond a bookcase, you’ll find yourself in the intimate cocktail den named after the country’s founding fathers and the 56 history-makers who signed the Declaration of Independence. As far as the drinks go, the cocktail list is meant to be “timeless and classic,” and features libations with gin, vodka, coconut, blackberries, and more. 

Bottles on shelves behind a bar.
The bar at Room 56.
Haley Hill Photography

Noble Experiment

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Within the East Village’s upscale gastropub Neighborhood lies this intimate bar hidden behind a keg wall and past a hallway covered in mirrors. Classical art and a wall of golden skulls keep the dimly-lit space dark and mysterious, adding to the bar’s already unique element of not having a menu — cocktails are crafted on the spot based on your preferences. Be sure to make a reservation beforehand on OpenTable for a secured seat at the cocktail den.  

Jim Sullivan

Young Blood

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Also housed inside Neighborhood is Youngblood, a “speakeasy tucked within a speakeasy.” A personalized cocktail experience hosted in a bar with only 16 seats, each visit is never like the last as three hand-crafted cocktails are prepared based on the individual guest’s likes and wants. Reservations via OpenTable are recommended. 

Arlene Ibarra

Bar Kamon

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Take a trip back to 1920s Taisho-era Japan when you step inside this handsome East Village bar hidden within the suite of spaces that includes Asa Bakery and Sushi Gaga. The cocktail list includes twists on the classics, from Negronis made with hojicha-infused gin to Old Fashioneds sweetened with sugar smoked on cypress wood.

A cocktail bar..
Bar Kamon.
Kimberly Motos

Prohibition Lounge

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An underground, 1920s-themed spot features stylish libations and live music. The cocktail program is divided into drinks based on the liquor base, including whiskey, rum, brandy, gin, and agave-focused mixtures.

Prohibition San Diego / Instagram

Raised by Wolves

Tucked behind a bottle shop at Westfield UTC, this award-winning speakeasy transports guests to an intimate gathering space decorated with velvet chairs and a white marble fountain under an emerald-colored glass dome. Cocktails from the bar’s reserve list are a must as they’re crafted with rare spirits, like the Old Fashioned mixed with 1950s Stitzel Weller Old Fitzgerald Bourbon.

Arlene Ibarra

Forbidden Cove

Situated next to Kilowatt Brewing in Kearny Mesa, this tiki-inspired den is covered in fishing floats, bamboo, and tropical plants. An assortment of beer cocktails made with fruit purees and tropical flavors are part of the menu, as well as sours from Kilowatt and even beers from the brewery if you notify the bartender in the neighboring taproom by pressing a special button. Reservations are recommended and can be made online. The brewery’s Oceanside location has its own speakeasy, called Space Pad, that seats 24 guests and features cocktails inspired by designed by Cristian Diaz, who served as the lead bartender at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at Disneyland.

Realm Of The 52 Remedies

Located inside Common Theory, this gorgeously-designed bar is fronted by a modern apothecary filled with Chinese herbs and tonics. Smoked pork ribs and Korean fried quail are just some of the highlights from the food menu while the cocktails are always innovative and intriguing, changing often but always highlighting Asian ingredients and spirits.

James Tran

Convoy Music Bar

With a hidden entrance off an alley, this is an elegant space that takes after the listening bars of Tokyo. A place where “music comes first and sound matters most,” the vinyl record soundtrack is transmitted through a custom-built sound system imported from Japan, providing a soothing and stylish setting for cocktails that focus on the classics.

Convoy Music Bar

Captain's Quarters

The luxe, nautical-themed speakeasy from the creative minds at SDCM (The Grass Skirt, Kettner Exhange) invites guests to climb aboard an immersive space fashioned like an old sailing ship to sip on a gin-forward cocktail menu that includes gin and tonics on draft and gin classic like a Corpse Reviver and the Martinez, a precursor to the Martini.

A large bar.
The cocktail bar.
Kimberly Motos

The Grass Skirt

After walking through a refrigerator door, a fog-filled lava rock tunnel leads the way into a spacious tropical bar filled with booths, fire pit tables, and swings. Paired with small plates and snacks, the cocktails range from the classic to tiki favorites and shareable punch bowls.

James Tran

Oculto 477

A cozy nook inside Old Town mezcaleria Tahona, Oculto 477 puts a modern twist on Prohibition-era drinks. For those feeling a bit more spontaneous, the Dealer’s Choice calls for a unique libation made with your preferred spirit and style. For an even more surprising cocktail, try the Risk It All: roll three dice and see what ingredients they land on — that’ll decide what’s to be mixed in your cup.

Arlene Ibarra

Bar Three Piece

This bar hiding within Seven Grand houses almost 300 bottles of whiskey in a space that features hardwood floors, oil lanterns, booths, and a private patio where cigars imported from Nicaragua can be paired with a glass of whiskey and enjoyed outside. Make sure to check out the bar’s Instagram page for weekly offers and specials on whiskey tastings and flights.

Bar Three Piece / Instagram

Mothership

A sister bar to the Kindred, this far-out bar turned space odyssey serves heavy-hitting tropical drinks like the Heliotropic, a twist on a Mai Tai with kumquats and other exotic flavors. To accompany the drinks, Mothership also offers a vegan “Earth Food” menu.

James Tran

Shibuya Nights

Cloak & Petal’s bonus bar, located in the back of the venue, continues its Tokyo underground aesthetic with bursts of colors and art inspired by the Harajuku district. The space serves a menu of Asian fusion dishes and offers a Monday through Thursday happy hour that features deals on sushi rolls, beer, sake, wine, and cocktails.

Shibuya Nights

False Idol

Beyond a secret door at Craft & Commerce hides this Polynesian-inspired, all-encompassing tiki experience. Decked out in fire and ice decor, with an indoor waterfall and a volcano as part of the design, the bar’s menu features rum-based tropical pours, unique drinks with flavors like taro and ube, and cocktails to share.

Brogen Jessup

Vin de Syrah

This subterranean venue takes its inspiration from New York’s meatpacking district and Parisian brasseries. Equipped with a menu centered on cheeses, desserts, wine, and beer along with a cocktail list that changes each season. The wine list features over 100 different bottles and the bar bites include charcuterie boards, goat cheese balls, and paninis. The bar’s twelve-foot tasting table and weekend wine tastings are a must.

Vin de Syrah / SDCM Restaurant Group

Room 56

The Gaslamp’s Moxy hotel features this private bar which can only be entered upon looking up the secret code on a mysterious website. After going beyond a bookcase, you’ll find yourself in the intimate cocktail den named after the country’s founding fathers and the 56 history-makers who signed the Declaration of Independence. As far as the drinks go, the cocktail list is meant to be “timeless and classic,” and features libations with gin, vodka, coconut, blackberries, and more. 

Bottles on shelves behind a bar.
The bar at Room 56.
Haley Hill Photography

Noble Experiment

Within the East Village’s upscale gastropub Neighborhood lies this intimate bar hidden behind a keg wall and past a hallway covered in mirrors. Classical art and a wall of golden skulls keep the dimly-lit space dark and mysterious, adding to the bar’s already unique element of not having a menu — cocktails are crafted on the spot based on your preferences. Be sure to make a reservation beforehand on OpenTable for a secured seat at the cocktail den.  

Jim Sullivan

Young Blood

Also housed inside Neighborhood is Youngblood, a “speakeasy tucked within a speakeasy.” A personalized cocktail experience hosted in a bar with only 16 seats, each visit is never like the last as three hand-crafted cocktails are prepared based on the individual guest’s likes and wants. Reservations via OpenTable are recommended. 

Arlene Ibarra

Related Maps

Bar Kamon

Take a trip back to 1920s Taisho-era Japan when you step inside this handsome East Village bar hidden within the suite of spaces that includes Asa Bakery and Sushi Gaga. The cocktail list includes twists on the classics, from Negronis made with hojicha-infused gin to Old Fashioneds sweetened with sugar smoked on cypress wood.

A cocktail bar..
Bar Kamon.
Kimberly Motos

Prohibition Lounge

An underground, 1920s-themed spot features stylish libations and live music. The cocktail program is divided into drinks based on the liquor base, including whiskey, rum, brandy, gin, and agave-focused mixtures.

Prohibition San Diego / Instagram

Related Maps