The first speakeasy on Rome’s bar scene opened in 2010; before then, Romans hadn't been exposed to the underground cocktail scene that seems to have taken the rest of the world by storm. These hipster bars are quietly popping up all over town, found in butcher shops, barbers, and garages. Most of the speakeasies in Rome are run as cultural associations, which means you have to be a member, making it feel even more exclusive. However, you can sign up on arrival for a one-off fee that's usually around €5.
The Jerry Thomas Project
Namesake to the godfather of cocktail mixology, entry here is by booking and password only; the staff look like they've stepped straight out of the 1930s and the bar rules listed for the 30 to 40 patrons are to be followed to the word. There's a piano in the dimly lit space too.
Spirito is located in the hip Pigneto neighborhood. Walk into a sandwich shop, then through butchers' plastic, and you're greeted by shelves of spirits and a roulette table that acts as a bar bench. Burgers and a load of tasty fried treats are on the menu too.
The Race Club
The theme at this corner bar located right up the street from the Colosseum is cars, bikes, and anything with a motor. Decked out like a mechanics' shop, it's filled with vintage motor vehicle memorabilia. The cocktail list, designed by owner brothers Diego and Dario, is creative and fun, with ingredients like jalapeños and candy.
You may have to walk up and down the street before you find Keyhole in Trastevere. There isn't any real signage—just look for a black door covered in vintage keyholes. Once you've signed in, head into the dark space draped in 1920s touches like Chesterfield sofas and pick your cocktail poison.
The Barber Shop
Located in the Colosseum area, no need to guess what the theme is here—the name gives it away. Walk up to the door and the security guard will ask for your name (bookings are mandatory) then lead you into an old barber shop complete with swiveling brown leather chairs. Take the very steep stairs down and enter cool bar below. The roof is low, the mood is dark, and the cocktails are delicious.
In the revived industrial heart of town, Capone is named after famous Chicago mob boss and gangster Al Capone. To get in, you need a password, which can be obtained on their site (in Italian and English) by answering a trivia question or playing the virtual slot machine. Once you're in, enjoy all the classic cocktails or those named after Prohibition-era personalities of the 1920s.
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