Like the ruin pubs of Budapest or the signature street art of London, each city has its own unique features that are a direct result of its culture and history. These are the overt faces of cities which give them all a singular countenance. Not all defining locations are visible, however. Some indelible hotspots of culture prefer to skulk in the shadows or behind false fronts away from the prying eyes of tourists. More often than not these establishments materialize in the form of bars and other afterhours drinking holes, where being hidden adds an extra element of exclusivity to the exploratory cliental. In an age where starting a blog or website with a company like this is easier than ever, it’s a wonder that these establishments can survive without the publicity and advertising that online platforms provide. But being underground is a form of advertisement in its own right.
For the discerning traveler these places offer a chance to discover an extra layer of intrigue of the various cities they’ve set about to discover. Below we’ll show you some of the best hidden bars around:
Taking its name sake from the cranium of lauded writer, playwright and poet, Samuel Beckett, this cocktail bar is tucked away in the trendy district of Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin. “Tucked away” is the right term, as there’s no overt advertising, sign or even open door to indicate that the bar even exists. Instead there’s a simple portrait of Samuel Beckett hanging above some blacked-out windows. After spying it out, drinkers are expected to knock on the door after which you’ll be greeted by a waiter and granted entry. The interior is all dim lights, cozy leather and everything Beckett (the menus are old paperback plays by the writer himself). But the main draw is the cocktails, which are as delicious as they are expensive.
The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town
While London isn’t short of boozers, taking the time to find the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town can be a refreshing glimpse into the pub scene, and one that’s cheeky and surprisingly fun. To access this drinking den, you’ll have to enter via the Breakfast Club in Spitalfields and ask a member of staff to see “the mayor”. You’ll then be led downstairs to a secret door that’s actually a SMEG fridge. Inside the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town you’ll be treated to a range of cocktails as well as American-style diner food.
Located in the Lower East Side of New York, Fig.19 is accessible only through an unmarked door at the back of an art gallery which could very easily be mistaken for a broom closet. The décor is dark, intimate and slightly quirky, with taxidermy adorning the walls. If you can find it, the shadowy confines and creative takes on classic cocktails make Fig.19 one worth hunting for.