Uncover Milwaukee’s Secret Speakeasies and Hidden Bars

Visiting a Milwaukee speakeasy is an experience shrouded in mystery and intrigue. These covert watering holes pay homage to the city's rich history while offering modern twists on classic cocktails. From secret entrances to password-protected doors, stepping into a speakeasy is like stepping back in time to an era of jazz, flappers, and clandestine rendezvous.

Step through a phone booth and enter a nightclub. Open up a vending machine and discover it’s the entryway into another world. Speakeasies and hidden bars are making a comeback in 2024. Let’s explore Milwaukee’s best secret watering holes.

What Defines a Milwaukee Speakeasy?

speakeasy bar in Milwaukee

During the ban on alcohol in the 1920s, speakeasies emerged as an alternative for those wanting to drink and socialize away from the prying eyes of law enforcement. These secret bars and clubs were hidden away, offering patrons a sense of excitement and rebellion as they enjoyed drinks and entertainment in secret.


Today, the spirit of the speakeasy lives on. Modern speakeasies often feature hidden entrances, password requirements, and vintage decor reminiscent of the Prohibition era. With craft cocktails and an air of exclusivity, these venues aim to recreate the thrill and adventure of the original speakeasies.

Kinn's Top Picks for Authentic Speakeasy Experiences

Mosler’s Vault 

Mosler’s Vault is located in an historic old bank vault within the North Avenue Market. Operated by Bittercube, this intimate speakeasy in Milwaukee has a capacity of just 11 people, creating an extremely exclusive atmosphere. Illuminated by soft lights and ambient hues, the bar itself is created from the faces of old safety deposit boxes. Prepare to be wowed by the skillful mixologists who concoct innovative cocktails using rare ingredients. 

Leo Lounge

Step into the hidden Leo Lounge, located above Tauro Cocina on the East Side. It's everything you'd dream of in a speakeasy: cozy corners, dim lighting, and curtains drawn over the windows. Leo pays homage to female artists, with stunning hand-painted floral art adorning the bar. It’s a must-see bar if you’re craving a unique drink in the neighborhood. 

Shanghai MKE at Black Cat Alley

Located in Black Cat Alley, just off the Ivanhoe Place entrance, you'll stumble upon an unassuming door that leads to a hidden bar. Welcome to Shanghai– a windowless hideaway illuminated by the faintest glow. Shanghai maximizes its intimate space by offering a thoughtfully curated selection of classic and eccentric drinks, which evolve with the seasons. It’s a true Milwaukee speakeasy in the modern era, and can be hard to find if you don’t already know where it is. 

The Safe House 

Prepare for espionage at The Safe House, a longstanding spy-themed bar and grill that adds a twist to the traditional speakeasy experience. Gaining entry to this establishment requires wit and charm, reminiscent of the 1920s. First, locate the elusive red door tucked away in an alley on North Front Street. Once inside, you'll encounter a gatekeeper who demands one thing: the password. Enjoy games and scavenger hunts for the whole family along with your meal.

The Best Bars in Milwaukee

Milwaukee is home to many bars, breweries, and taverns. We are affectionately known as Brew City after all! Whether you're a craft beer lover or prefer a fancy cocktail, there's something for everyone to enjoy in this city.

At Random

In the charming neighborhood of Bay View lives the retro-themed bar At Random. It’s a quintessential 50s cocktail bar adorned with dim red lighting and vintage booths. What truly makes this bar one of the best is its selection of ice cream cocktails, transporting you back in time with each sip. From the Grasshopper to the Orange Crush, there's an ice cream drink treat for every palate. The nostalgic ambiance creates such a fun experience that guests return to At Random every time they’re in Brew City. 


Burnhearts is a must-visit destination for any tourist looking to experience the local bar scene. Renowned for its welcoming atmosphere and diverse selection of craft brews and cocktails, Burnhearts offers a real taste of Milwaukee's bar culture. With friendly and knowledgeable staff ready to guide you through their offerings, along with the options for pool and shuffleboard, Burnhearts promises an authentic experience in the heart of the city.

Where to Enjoy Classic Cocktails with a Twist

Looking for a cocktail with a bit of flair? Milwaukee's mixologists are known for their creativity and innovation, taking classic recipes and putting their own unique spin on them. 

Camp Bar Third Ward 

Don’t let Camp Bar Third Ward’s unassuming exterior fool you. An incredible atmosphere awaits inside! Once you step through the doors, you'll be transported to a world of unique and expertly mixed drinks. This spot is perfect for small groups and romantic date nights out on the town. Just note that seating options for larger groups may be limited due to the intimate and romantic nature of the bar. Their stellar cocktails and classic vibes place it among the best bars in Milwaukee. 

A Night Out in Milwaukee: Beyond the Ordinary

Thanks to the multitude of quirky themed bars and hidden speakeasies in Milwaukee, there's no shortage of places to explore in this dynamic city. Looking for a bar that offers more than just drinks? This city has you covered. There are even locales that offer axe throwing to arcade games. These unique bars in Milwaukee offer a little something extra to keep you entertained all night long.

Art Bar

Located in the Riverwest neighborhood, Art Bar is a hip and laid-back watering hole that's a must-visit for locals and visitors alike. Everywhere you turn there is local art decorating the walls, a rotating gallery that is switched up with frequency. The eclectic decor creates a sense of welcome invitation to enjoy a drink at Art Bar– or try one of their delicious pizzas. Plus, you're likely to encounter a furry friend: there's always a dog there, adding to the welcoming, neighborhood vibe. Art Bar is the perfect spot to unwind, socialize, and immerse yourself in Milwaukee's nightlife.

Why Milwaukee's Hidden Bars Are a Must-See

In a city known for its beer, Milwaukee's hidden bars offer a refreshing change of pace. No matter if you're a local or just passing through, exploring these secret speakeasies can offer a break from routine and something out of the ordinary.

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