Eat & Drink

Unlocking the Secrets of Charlotte’s Speakeasies

Relive the revelry of the roaring 20s at one of these hidden watering holes.

The Cellar at Duckworth's

What began as secret drinking establishments during the Prohibition years, speakeasies have now morphed into bars that feature just the right amount of nostalgia, inventive handcrafted cocktails and no fear of a police raid. In the past few years, the speakeasy concept has slowly gained steam in Charlotte, with no sign of slowing down. Here are five local favorites to try—that is, if you can find the entrances.

Dot Dot Dot

With one of Charlotte’s original mixologists at the helm, Dot Dot Dot is one of the most exciting additions to the Charlotte cocktail scene in recent years. Stefan Huebner, formerly of Heist Brewery, curates an innovative cocktail program while still paying homage to a bygone era. Bourbon drinks are the stars of the show—try a Truffle New York Sour, a concoction of bourbon, orange liqueur, truffle egg white, house sweet and sour, and port.

Photo by Kyo H Nam Photography

The Cellar at Duckworth’s

Enter Duckworth’s in Uptown and descend the stairs into a different era, and a different bar. Leave the sports bar vibe behind for a more sophisticated, old-fashioned vibe. The Cellar at Duckworth’s features gastropub fare, an extensive list of beers, and a revolving list of seasonal signature cocktails.  The space where the Cellar is located was originally built in 1912 and from the decor, the drinks, to the dress of the staff, it embraces the pre-prohibition era.

The Dock

Aptly named, The Dock is located in the loading dock of the Charlotte Marriott City Center. Opened in 2016, The Dock had many eager Charlotteans searching for the entrance, which is hidden in plain sight behind an unmarked door. Once inside, the bare bones décor makes it apparent that the focus here is on the drinks—as it should be. If you plan to go, make sure it’s a Saturday night—they’re closed every other night of the week.

The Cotton Room

Named in honor of the open-air cotton marketplace that once existed in its home of Brevard Court, The Cotton Room combines a modern cocktail menu with the vibe of a bygone era. This southern-inspired joint features beers from the Carolinas, as well as local ingredients and liquors in their craft cocktails. Try the Bartender’s Alchemy, which combines Covington Vodka, St. Germain, lemon juice, honey syrup, apricot bitters and an edible flower.

Backstage Lounge

The newest kid on the speakeasy scene, Backstage Lounge has already garnered quite a buzz since opening in January. Tucked in the back of taco and tequila joint, SouthBound, access to Backstage is granted by picking up a phone that’s hidden behind a red curtain. The cocktail menu includes classic, signature and house barrel-aged. Try The Fizzy One, which features Method, strawberry vodka, passionfruit puree, egg white, house-made orgeat and yellow chartreuse.

Room XIII

From the outside, unassuming best describes Room XIII. Located below Emerson Joseph, the men’s grooming lounge on Tryon Street, you may walk right past Room XIII unless you know where to look. But indoors, poker, cocktails and cigars await. But take note: This isn’t a drop in establishment—advance reservations are required.