Published on March 31st, 2014 | by Oliver Pelling
SECRET CODES & HIDDEN DOORWAYS: A GUIDE TO BUENOS AIRES’ SPEAKEASIES
Frank’s Bar | Photo courtesy of Frank’s Bar, Buenos Aires
And though there are many well-known restaurants and clubs lining the streets of BA, the city has a boozy underbelly that takes cues from prohibition America. Some of the bars that make up this underground scene have no address. You have to know a secret passcode to gain access to others. Some are for members only. Most are incredibly invigorating spots to grab a quiet drink…or two.
Sure, the fact that the consumption of alcohol is legal in Argentina may mean there’s no practical need (for the general public, anyway) for these speakeasy-style haunts, but we won’t concern ourselves with this point. What we will concern ourselves with is sounding out some of BA’s premier speakeasy establishments for you to duck in to next time you’re in town.
La Ferona Social Club
Have you ever had the idea to turn your lounge into a bar? Well, that’s what the guys behind La Ferona Social Club did, and now they own one of the most happening bars in Argentina. Like walking into a big house party (that has a bar), this classic, white colonial house plays host to an exceptionally vibrant atmosphere – the kind that many bars shoot for and miss. Relax in the living room, on the terrace or dance to whatever the live DJ’s spinning at that moment. Just make sure you get down early on weekends. This place goes gangbusters.Humboldt 1445,
entre Cabrera y Niceto Vega Palermo Buenos Aires Tel: (+54) 011 6722 6784
Somewhere to come for a quiet drink, as opposed to a raging bender, Ocho7Ocho is the godfather of BA’s underground bar scene. A highly-stylised interior is masked by an exceptionally run-down front door, which ensures only those who know about it, know about it. Although these days, quite a lot of people know about it. In fact, so many people know about it that they’ve gone legit and are technically not a speakeasy anymore. Anyway. Get down, get in and chill out.
Tel: (+54) 011 4773 1098
A venue that does what it says on the tin, Squat House commandeers a new location with each incarnation and kicks up a party to rival any party you’ve likely ever been to before. The address is not made public until the day of the event, but the peculiar entertainment at these things makes a night at Squat House a BA essential. With a bit of asking around and a spot of Googling, you should be able to find out when and where the next event is going down.
Ask locals/Google for address
More of an adventure from central BA than any other bars on this list, Puerta Uno is situated on a nondescript street and boasts a nondescript entrance. Classic speakeasy behaviour, right there. Come here for the food. Stay here for the drinks. Then have some more food.
This place has a pool and a courtyard. It is a bit more “private” (see: members only) than anywhere else on this list, but we thought we’d include it for the more adventurous of you. Because really, if you get to know the right people, you can go anywhere in life. Including a private clubhouse in Buenos Aires.
Ask the locals for address
Big metal door? Check. No signage? Check. Doorbell to ring? Check. Secret code you have to enter into a phonebooth to unveil a secret door? Check. As far as speakeasy espionage bells and whistles go, Frank’s has got it all. This one really inspired by the New York and Chicago drinking dens of the 1920s/30s, and if you only have time to visit one of these bars, we’d recommend Frank’s. The bartenders pride themselves on their cocktails – which use no artificial flavours and only the freshest, seasonal fruit – and there’s even a sex shop on the right hand side as you enter. Just saying.