Art Bar / Holly Whitfield

Roar into 2020 at Memphis Speakeasies

by J.T. Mullen | December, 2019

These underground bars—with some tips from us to help you find and enter them—are your chance to lounge in local-secret taverns where you might discover live music, craft cocktails and delicious eats.

Secret Password Required

Take in the sights and sounds of downtown Memphis at this speakeasy on Main Street. From champagne cocktails to moonshine tea (and everything in between), Blind Bear’s bartenders will have you drinking like it’s 1929. And if your party gets a little out of hand and you’re in need of a pick-me-up the following morning, don’t forget about the Hung Over Like a Bear Brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. To enter Blind Bear, check the bar’s social media for the secret password. 

Basement Bar Exclusives

Hidden within what appears to be an authentic tailor shop actually sits one of Memphis’ most unique bars, Tailor’s Union. This semi-exclusive speakeasy features three bars—including a cigar room—with signature cocktails, delectable small-plate eats and live jazz bands. Don’t want to leave? Ask about membership options for exclusive events and basement bar access while you’re there!

1970s Glitz & Memphis Soul

From piano bands to soul groups, The Lounge at 3rd & Court has the city buzzing. Located in the basement of 3rd and Court Diner at Hotel Indigo Memphis Downtown, the establishment gives off a 1970s vibe, with rich browns and glitzy golds featured throughout. Stop by this all new bar and lounge for some craft cocktails and Memphis music—and don’t forget to try the burgers.

Signature Cocktails & Steaks

Stroll down Barboro Alley (between Union and Gayoso) and find yourself at Belle Tavern. Featuring one of the best happy hours in Memphis—known for cocktails like Midnight Kiss and Bee’s Knees—you’ll get why this one’s a downtown favorite. Order a 16-ounce filet from 117 Prime to go along with your signature cocktail (full menu available during normal 117 Prime hours), or if you’re late to the party try the bar snacks—we recommend the BLFGT (bacon, lettuce and fried green tomato) and the crawfish hushpuppies.

Belle Tavern / Holly Whitfield
Tailor's Union / Holly Whitfield
The Lounge at 3rd and Court / Holly Whitfield
Itta Bena / Alex Shansky

Chase the Green Fairy

Grab your pool cue and sip on a glass of absinthe, all while overlooking world-famous Beale Street at the Absinthe Room. This bar sits atop Beale Street’s King’s Palace Café, creating a truly unique Memphis experience. With posters lining the walls and games offered throughout the bar—like skee-ball, billiards and darts—the Absinthe Room is non-stop fun. 

Behind the Secret Door

Journey upstairs at Bari Ristorante to Dodici, a bar and lounge with just a dozen seats. Hidden behind a secret door, this quaint speakeasy offers cocktails with handmade bitters, syrups and other ingredients. Dodici’s location in the Overton Square Entertainment District makes it a great place for a nightcap after an evening of live music or theater.

Southern Comfort with a Twist

B.B. King’s Blues Club commands attention at the high-profile corner of Beale Street and Second Street. But look for the nondescript staircase around back that leads to Itta Bena, an intimate spot tucked away atop the popular club. With upscale twists on Southern classics—like tender shrimp and locally milled grits spiked with white wine—and libations such as the Blues Berry martini, Itta Bena offers you an authentic Memphis fine dining experience.

A Local Musician Hideaway

It’s all about the music at B-Side Memphis. This lesser-known venue, located inside the plaza at Minglewood Hall, offers a wide array of local bands and musicians each and every night. Drink your fill and dance the night away at this hidden gem.  

Mesmerizing Art Meets Exclusive Wines

So you want to see what Crosstown Concourse, Memphis’ vertical urban village, is all about. Stroll and shop on the main level, then wind your way up the red spiral staircase that leads to the second floor. Among the galleries, look for an opening in the walls that reveals Art Bar. Slip inside for a house concoction or something from the exclusive wine list, and pair it with delicious finger foods. The bar features work from a different artist each month, giving it an ever-changing creative vibe.