The Roaring ’20s was an exuberant time in American history, replete with the Golden Age of Hollywood, the birth of jazz and the rise of the sassy, vibrant flapper.
Meanwhile Prohibition led to the birth of Speakeasies — establishments that claimed to sell only the soft stuff but actually peddled booze. A whispered code at the door was required to gain admission into speakeasies, which had unmarked, sometimes secret entrances.
Nearly a century later, New Jersey is still home to modern day speakeasies, some that originated in the 20s. Thankfully, no one will be arrested for frequenting one of these fun establishments.
Murphy’s Tavern in Rumson opened around 1919 in the basement of a house on Ward Lane. Its location near a hidden cove on the Navesink River enabled rum-runners and smugglers to visit the Tavern without being seen. Murphy’s was a well-known secret. Today Murphy’s Tavern offers handcrafted drinks, snacks, Happy Hour specials, live music, bingo, and shuffleboard.
(732) 842-1600 – 17 Ward Lane, Rumson NJ, 07760
The Laundromat Bar in Morristown is a newer speakeasy with a narrow room full of washing machines and dryers on the first floor. Doors disguised as dryers lead to stairs that descend into a cavernous room with a bar and live music. The Laundromat offers a multitude of drinks. Their minimum age for entry is 23.
(973) 455-0200 – 4 Dehart Street, Morristown, NJ 07960
Thirty3 in Towaco is located in the basement of Rails Steakhouse. You need to pull a specific book from the crowded bookcase to gain entrance into the bar. Someone will help you if you can’t figure out which one it is. There are hidden passageways to explore. Mixologists, not bartenders, create crafted drinks. A tasty small bites menu also awaits at Thirty3.
(973) 335-0006 – 10 Whitehall Road, Towaco, NJ 07082
Sammy’s Ye Old Cider Mill in Mendham was a genuine speakeasy in the 1920s. The founder’s grandchildren now operate the restaurant. To this day there’s no sign outside. Guests place their orders when they enter the restaurant and head downstairs to the speakeasy to enjoy cocktails while the critically acclaimed food is prepared. There are games to play downstairs while you drink.
Cowans Public In Nutley is housed in a 1920s building that became a bar in 1934, after the Prohibition. Several different bars have existed in that space throughout the years. Cowans Public pays homage to the 1920s with a curved Art Deco Bar with stained glass and the Cabinet of Curiosity containing relics from the Prohibition to the Great Depression. Cowans offers artisanal spirits and and a “modern twist on the traditional pub menu” including vegetarian and vegan dishes. They also serve brunch.
(973) 542-8151 – 229 Centre Street, Nutley, NJ 07110
Jersey City seems to be the speakeasy capital of New Jersey.
Dullboy Bar in Jersey City has a speakeasy vibe with dark mood lighting. One wall is covered in books and another wall has typewriters attached to it. They offer an extensive menu of cocktails and delicious food. Some of Dullboy’s specials include Happy Hour, $1 Oyster Night on Tuesdays, and Wine Down Thursdays.
(201) 795-1628 – 364 Grove Street, Jersey City, NJ 07302
The Factory in Jersey City is a former auto parts factory decorated in wood and iron. They feature a vast cocktail selection as well as delectable Italian and North & Latin American cuisine. The Factory has weekday Happy Hour, Sunday Brunch, and Buy One Get One Free specials.
(201) 630-4396 – 451 Communipaw Ave with Berry Lane, Jersey City, NJ 07304
The Pet Shop in Jersey City has classic and non-classic cocktails, craft and not craft beers, natural wines, and vegetarian food. Special events include live music, Taqueria Tuesday, lectures on natural wine, Seinfeld Trivia night, and more.
(201) 984-2170 – 193 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, NJ 07302
The Archer Bar in Jersey City has a rustic and dark wood interior with deer trophy heads on the walls and a gamey menu. They offer many types of drinks and unusual food dishes. The Archer Bar also has live music.
(201) 309-1090 – 176 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, NJ 07302
Miss Wong’s in Jersey City is located in the lower level of Talde in Jersey City (near the Grove Street PATH). There’s no sign so you have to ask a bouncer upstairs for the entrance. They offer an assortment of interesting beverages as well as Asian and American specialties. Miss Wong’s serves brunch.
(201) 630-0077 – 8 Erie Street, Jersey City, NJ 07302
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