Nashville and the surrounding areas are home to many of the most renowned bars and restaurants anywhere in the South, but if you take a closer look, you’ll find some hidden gems sprinkled throughout the region. Today, we’re sharing the locations and access tips for the best speakeasies in Middle TN, each of which will make your night one to remember—but keep everything just between us.
Prohibition arrived in Tennessee more than a decade before it became national law in 1920. Beginning in 1909, moonshine and liquor headed underground to avoid being prosecuted under the state’s no-sell rule. While prohibition was eventually repealed, moonshine wasn’t made legal until 2010.
With a history like this, it’s little wonder the speakeasy scene is still alive and well in Tennessee. Far from the dangerous and criminal underground they were once part of, each of the speakeasies on our list offers an elevated cocktail program, delicious small bites or full meals, and impeccable service.
Tucked away in the former boiler room of White Way Cleaners, Old Glory retains an industrial feel thanks to the original electrical boxes, smoke stack, and coal hopper from 100 years ago. This location is hush-hush, so the entrance is marked with a simple golden triangle and must be entered through the alley that runs behind the building that houses both Old Glory and Taco Mamacita.
Once inside, you’ll descend a golden, spiral staircase and arrive at a fully modern bar intertwined with the antique machinery of days gone by. The high ceilings, exposed brick, soft lighting, and cozy nooks complete this getaway. The feeling is at once rustic and hip, intimate and expansive, approachable and upscale. Whether you choose to begin or end your night here, you’ll be delighted you did.
Just off Broadway, this elegant 1920s-style speakeasy and cigar lounge is ensconced in original brick, reclaimed tobacco-barn flooring, and peppered with cozy fireplaces. Lean back on custom-crafted leather couches and take in the hand-painted ceiling. If the term ‘cigar lounge’ makes you fear a stale, smoky atmosphere, you’ll be glad to hear that the air system constantly brings in fresh outdoor air and purifies the air within the speakeasy.
The dress code is formal, though business casual dress is permitted. Gentlemen, wear a sports coat or button-down (though the speakeasy has jackets to loan). Ladies, wear a flapper dress and receive your first drink on the house.
To enter the Red Phone Booth, you’ll dial a secret number into the antique signature London red booth. To learn the number, you’ll have to speak to a registered member, or ask a concierge at one of the nearby hotels.
The Hotel Noelle holds a secret, and it’s tucked away in the basement beneath an unassuming green door marked “Storage.” Enter through Makeready Libations & Liberation; head to the back, then turn left at the two-way mirrors.
Hidden Bar is beloved for its frequently updated thematic décor and seasonal popups, DJs and dance parties on Friday and Saturdays, and a gorgeous cocktail menu. This speakeasy is cozy, and seating is limited.
New York’s Attaboy (the flagship location) has been recognized for being one of the bars that set off the modern craft cocktail boom, serving cocktails that are world-famous for their innovative components and masterful execution. In Nashville, Attaboy has been reborn as an understated speakeasy, tucked behind a cinder block facade, serving inspired cocktails that are designed by the bartender—no menus here. Instead, you’ll be asked about your preferences and favorite flavors, then a cocktail of perfectly fresh ingredients will be created just for you.
This location does not accept reservations, so keep an eye out for the painted rooster, knock gently, and ask if they have any availability.
The Patterson House was named after Tennessee’s former governor, Malcolm R. Patterson, whose famous anti-prohibition speeches included the phrase, “For a state […] to attempt to control what the people shall eat, drink, and wear […] is tyranny, and not liberty.” Since this speakeasy opened in 2009, it has gained national attention for its outstanding cocktails and luxurious interior.
Once inside, you’ll be greeted by a bartender, then be invited to relax within the elevated library-themed interior. In the center of the room, a shining pyramid of liquor bottles calls back to the decadence of the early roaring 20s, while antique chandeliers fill the space with warm, diffused light.
Limited reservations are available, but The Patterson House largely operates on a first-come, first-served basis.
Head behind and beneath the storefronts on this stretch of Gallatin Pike, and The Fox Bar’s rich, Art Deco-themed interior will transport you to another era. Nestle into a private, plush-velvet booth beneath the low, pressed-tin ceilings, or grab a stool at the long, marble bar, and enjoy craft cocktails made from seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. While this speakeasy is certainly elegant, it’s also comforting and easy-going, making it a perfect spot to kick back with a friend or a date and while away the time.
To complete your visit, fill out a prepaid Fox postcard and mail it off to someone special on your way out the door.
Fable is a modern, multi-story speakeasy that manages to create a steampunk-influenced storybook experience that avoids feeling over-the-top or cliché in any way. The full menu of decadent gastronomic delights and endless creative cocktails makes this a spot where you could spend an entire night out, whether you’re on a date, or spending the evening out with a group of friends.
Prohibition couldn’t make Nashville’s liquor magically disappear, but the world-class magicians at House of Cards will wow you with their skill at sleight of hand. Enter through a nondescript wooden door within the Johnny Cash Museum, and you’ll vanish into a vibrant world of entertainment. Order your cocktail at the bar, wander through the historic displays of the magical museum, then gather around three close-up entertainers to enjoy amazing illusions. If your hunger for the show is still gnawing at you, purchase an entree to gain entrance to the stage’s main magic act of the night.
The dress code for House of Cards is formal or business casual and is strictly enforced. Reservations are encouraged and should be made two to three weeks in advance of your desired date.
This spirited gastropub feels like an art gallery that houses a speakeasy—and that’s by design. Relax in this offbeat local hangout, enjoy the art, listen to funky tunes, and select delicious eats and unique drinks from the ever-changing menu. Look for ivy-covered brick, and a small gold plaque bearing the bar’s name, and prepare to get lost in the warm, soothing lighting that illuminates incredible street art and post-modern paintings.
When you’re in the mood for something entirely different, look for an eerie green glow, then enter the semi-hidden Green Hour to immerse yourself in all things absinthe. Once prohibited nationally for its powerful ABV and unique herbal ingredients, absinthe is even now rarely served stateside. Don’t worry if you aren’t feeling up to trying absinthe, though; Green Hour serves a great number of craft cocktails made with traditional liquors and spirits.
By day, this spot is a chocolate shop called Tempered Fine Chocolates. At night, you can still purchase these artisanal chocolates to enjoy with your drink, whether absinthe or traditional.
We hope you explore Middle Tennessee’s speakeasy scene throughout this season and those to come. If you’ve visited any of these speakeasies, or have a recommendation to add to our own, please leave us a comment below!