Sip on the sly at these speakeasy-style lounges in Calgary

Looking to enjoy a tipple on the down low? Prohibition-style speakeasies are all the rage in lounge culture these days, from secret backroom bars to cool lounges featuring ’20s-style cocktails. Not all of these bars are true secrets, but they all carry a bit of the speakeasy spirit. [Image credit: iStock.com/ThisLifeInTrips]

National on 10th

1
341 10 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2R 0A5

This semi-secret backroom is located on the second level of National on 10th. Taking a seat on the dark leather banquettes of the secluded Bourbon Room feels slightly forbidden. Brown liquor figures heavily on the booze menu, served either straight up or in carefully created cocktails.

Model Milk

2
308 17 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2S 0A8

With its unmarked separate door and 50-seat space, Model Milk’s secret bar is as close as it gets to a legit speakeasy. Cozy and ultra-stylish (there’s a turntable and a selection of vinyl hidden in the parlour), Model Citizen is for the discreet and discerning drinker – just like the cocktail list downstairs, the innovative rotating menu of concoctions is always on point.

Cannibale

3
813 1 Avenue NE, Calgary, AB T2E 0C2

Hidden behind a full-service, single-chair, old timey barbershop storefront, Cannibale is intentionally secretive in an entirely tongue-in-cheek kind of way. The tiny bar in the back is comfortably cool and features both pre- and post-prohibition cocktails as well as revival classics and bartender originals.

The Nash Restaurant & Off Cut Bar

4
925 11 St SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0R4

Off Cut Bar is part of The Nash restaurant and both are located in what was once The National Hotel, one of Calgary’s most infamous watering holes. Off Cut Bar plays up its history with photos representing the room’s past upon its walls and a drink list full of small-batch spirits and cocktails, including the already iconic Buckskin Sour.

Brasserie Kensington

5
100-1131 Kensington Rd NW, Calgary, AB T2N 3P4

You don’t need a password to get into Container Bar but you do need to venture into an alley. The bar – which is essentially patio seating in front of a shipping container adjacent to Brasserie Kensington – opens when weather (or the owners’ whims) permit and serves a selection of salty bar snacks and fun drinks including a variety of slushies and several choices of gin and tonics.

The Milk Tiger Lounge

6
A-1410 4 St SW, Calgary, AB T2R 0Y1

With a sign that doesn’t even name the bar, Milk Tiger is a bit of a secret, but those in the know have clued in that the little white tiger on the bar’s awning signals good libations inside. While Milk Tiger boasts a decent beer and wine list, cocktails rule the menu, with cool takes on all of the classics.

Escoba Bistro & Wine Bar

7
624 8 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2P 1G4

You literally have to go down an alley to access this on-the-down-low bar, which acts as a high-end lounge during the week and takes on a dance-club vibe on weekends. The drinks at Standard Modern Speakeasy and Social Club are for those who appreciate the good stuff, with premium brands and simple booze-forward cocktails put front and centre.

Una Pizza & Wine

8
618 17 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2S 0B4

Located at the very back of UNA Take Away, the sister eatery next door to UNA Pizza + Wine, Frenchie Wine Bar is a tiny room marked only by a painting of a French bulldog. If you're lucky to score a seat at one of the couple of tables or along the bar, order a plate of charcuterie (supplied by Empire Provisions) with a martini or a selection from the ever-changing list of sustainable and biodynamic wines.

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