During the Prohibition era, Jacksonville was dubbed “The Gateway to Florida.” Considered the vanguard of illicit activity in the late 1920’s, Jacksonville’s ports were used for illegal smuggling and rum-running.
Characters like The Real McCoy, The Whiskey King of Duval County, The Ashley Gang, and The Whisper Sisters, all contributed to Jacksonville’s interesting history during Prohibition.
If you’re intrigued by Jacksonville’s Prohibition history or want to get a modern taste of older times, then check out these four Jax speakeasies where you can drink in secret.
1. The Volstead
115 W Adams St. (Downtown)
This bar is named after The Volstead Act, which is the piece of legislation that established Prohibition. The Volstead’s website reads, “Considered one of America’s biggest mistakes, the Act was later repealed in 1933, but the era would forever leave its mark on history.” This speakeasy-style bar will take you back in time with its jazz music, intimate setting, and classic cocktails.
#FrayLife Tip: Partake in “Swingin’ Sunday” at 7 p.m. every Sunday, for free swing dance lessons.
2. The Parlour
2000 1/2 San Marco Blvd (San Marco)
Located in the historic neighborhood of San Marco, The Parlour is a classic speakeasy. To enter, one must travel through a secret passage (the bookcase) from The Grape and Grain Exchange, a bar that serves a variety of cocktails, and also sells bar accessories and bottles, for the perfect gift. At the Parlour, you can listen to live jazz music and dance your way back to the 1930’s, while enjoying classic Prohibition-era drinks.
#FrayLife Tip: If entering through the side door, you will need the password, or you will pay cover. The password changes every night and is posted daily on The Parlour’s Facebook.
333 1st St N (Jacksonville Beach)
The Shim Sham Room in Jacksonville Beach is not technically a speakeasy, but the vintage spirit room lounge that is accessed by the staircase from the public house, gives off a secret vibe. This bar serves up everything from vintage cocktails, such as the Boulevardier, to their own creation, the Orange Jalapeno Margarita. The live music and cheap eats menu make it a hard place to pass up.
#FrayLife Tip: Want to enjoy some fine spirits and beer at home? No problem. Check out what you can order to go.
110 Riberia Street (St. Augustine)
The Ice Plant is located in Florida’s oldest ice plant building, which dates back to 1927. The original crane that was used to pick up large blocks of ice, which were broken down and sold to customers and shrimp boats, is still in The Ice Plant. About a 45-minute drive from Jacksonville, this place will pleasantly surprise you with their farm to table food and cocktails.
#FrayLife Tip: The Ice Plant does not take calls ahead or reservations, and cannot seat more than six people in one party. Make sure you plan your visit accordingly.
Have you tried any of these speakeasy-style bars before? If so, let us know which is your favorite in comments below!
Looking for more really fun places to drink? Check out these day-by-day happy hour specials!
View More Articles By Briana Florez
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