DETROIT – I got off work and needed a little pick-me-up. Apple Maps led me to the nearest coffee shop open past 6 p.m.
I walked in and headed downstairs toward the café. I sat in the waiting area, no bigger than the average living room, cut in half.
After receiving my small oat milk latte, I was confused as to why it was the size of a Happy Meal drink. The barista then told me that Coffee Down Under is inspired by Australian coffee shops, meaning their sizes range from 8 to 16 ounces.
I had an event to attend nearby, but it didn’t start until 7 p.m.
I informed the barista that I would be there for a while, and he told me there was no need to wait in the waiting area. He guided me to a door, he then began to input some numbers into a code pad on the door, and BOOM!
I’d now entered a room that was dimly lit with not much overhead lighting, and in front of me was a giant bar.
I was surrounded by couches and candles lit on every table.
Of course, toward the back of the room, there was a giant vault crowned with Christmas lights, because what coffee shop doesn’t have a secret speakeasy behind a hidden door with a vault?
As it turns out, Coffee Down Under was the U.S. Mortgage Bond Building back in the 1920s, which explains the enormous hidden underground vault.
Speakeasies became well-known during the Prohibition era in the 1920s, when the trade of alcohol was banned. At the time, these secret bars gave people a gathering place to enjoy themselves and drink freely, though it was illegal.
They would be found underground, in basements, inside apartments, and even in back rooms of laundry mats.
Now, speakeasies are growing in popularity, and not as secretive.
All it takes is a quick Google search to find one in your area.
They are a great place to go when you’re in a downtown space and looking for a place to hang with your friends, or even a romantic date night.
Though they aren’t as hidden as they used to be, there is still some mystery behind speakeasies. Some require passwords, or are hidden behind telephone booths, moving bookshelves, refrigerators -- even behind a toilet.
Are there any speakeasies in your city? Let us know in the comments below.