Shhhhh…Gaslamp Has a Secret Speakeasy

Law Office of Eddie O'Hare or is it?

A girlfriend and I were recently on Fifth Avenue in the heart of Gaslamp Quarter looking for a bar. Actually, we were surrounded by bars – throbbing music, dancing disco lights and crowds of pretty party people.

But we were looking for a secret place, a prohibition-style underground speakeasy. We had an address. Finally, we found it above a nondescript door that read “Law Office – Eddie O‘Hare Esq.” We rang the buzzer.

A beefy dark-haired guy in a black jacket opened the door a crack. “Can I help you?” he asked.

My friend flashed the personalized e-tickets we’d printed out earlier in the day. “We’re on the guest list,” she added. Beefy nodded, opened the door a few inches wider and motioned us inside.

Feeling bootlegger cool, we headed down red carpeted stairs, banked by red walls, to the basement-level Prohibition lounge. Red lighting infused the scene with an edgy risqué feel. Steamboat Willie and other late ’20s era cartoon characters silently cavorted on flatscreen TVs. A slick jazz trio performed prohibition era tunes on a small stage; nobody danced. Music was loud enough to evoke vibe, but not so loud it competed with conversation.

There were maybe 40 people inside – in a wide range of ages. No scruffy t-shirts or running shoes – but few designer labels, either. Men behaved, per house rules that prohibit “unsolicited advances on female patrons.” The setting was comfortable, conducive to easy mingling.

Prohibition is about rediscovering (and reinventing) premium hand-made cocktails. Patrons crowded around the bar for a ringside show. Mixologist Levi Walker had the finesse of a 5-star chef as he constructed my pisco sour. There’s not a blender in sight here. When Walker finished hand shaking my cocktail, he added a dash of Amargo Chuncho to the foamy top. “Real Peruvian bitters,” he explained. “It’s made from barks, roots and flowers that grow in the Amazon. You can’t make a real pisco sour without it.”

Next, Walker dropped a straw into the concoction, keeping a finger over the sipping end to withdraw a taste of the drink. He took the taste, nodded approval, then served me his masterpiece. Exquisite. The straw-tasting was a routine repeated after each cocktail he mixed.

OK, so service may be a little slower here than in most Gaslamp bars – but fine art takes time. Most cocktails run around $12.

Prohibition is open from 7:00 pm  until 2:00 am Thursdays through Saturdays. Find it at 548 Fifth Ave. Before you can get in, you’ll have to get on the speakeasy’s guest list. To do that, go to the bar’s Website: www.ProhibitionSD.com. Click on “Guest List” and register. Occupancy is limited, so it’s wise to reserve in advance. Admission is free.

 

Stairwell to the 1920s

Real Drinks Take Time

Music

This entry was posted in Attractions, Insider Tips and tagged , , , , by Alison. Bookmark the permalink.
Alison

About Alison

I’m a junkie. Addicted to travel. Logged 15 years as Travel Editor at the San Diego Union-Tribune – a labor of love. But always appreciate coming home to my favorite city: San Diego. My newest labor of love is an app – San Diego Essential Guide – a tool that lets me share with other travelers what I love most about my hometown.

How would you describe your ideal San Diego Day?

I’d meet girlfriends at South Mission for a low-tide walk along the ocean front to Pacific Beach. Before heading back, we’d hit a boardwalk restaurant for an eggs Benedict breakfast.  We’d spend the afternoon at La Jolla Shores with our boogie boards – sun and fun in 72-degree-plus waves.  I’d meet my husband for a sunset picnic on a grassy oceanfront bluff at Coast Boulevard Park. We’d end up at Humphreys Backstage Live on Shelter Island, dancing the night away.

If you were invisible, where would you go?

Can’t think of anyplace I wouldn’t want to be seen in San Diego – except maybe Lindbergh Field, if it would help me speed through security and avoid the body scanner.

Do you prefer burgers and beer or linguini and red wine?

Dad was a commercial fisherman, so I’m spoiled. Give me barely seared ahi, fresh crab or a fish taco.

What’s your favorite San Diego outdoor activity?

Fishing – it’s in my blood. But I’m happy doing anything where I can smell saltwater: paragliding from Torrey Pines, kayaking the La Jolla Ecological Reserve, riding my boogie board, picnicking on the beach, chillin’ at a Summer Pops concert.

Latest music purchases for my iPod/MP3 player?

I’m downloading more apps than music these days. My iPod is full of funky Old School stuff – the best of MJ, Gap Band, Gnarls Barkley, Cameo, Hammer and lots of old Motown sounds: Temptations, Four Tops, The Miracles.

8 thoughts on “Shhhhh…Gaslamp Has a Secret Speakeasy

  1. This place is sad and tries to make it seem exclusive yet they keep paying customers out and allow to shady people in just because they were on the guest list. I’d stay away from this place and go to anywhere else.

  2. The “insider” information is so intriguing! This is what you need to know when you get to San Diego and want to have fun. Whoever writes these is a gem.

  3. Enjoyed the description of this adventure to the gaslamp speakeasy. It sounds fascinating! Makes me want to visit it…perhaps one day…

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