When most people think of a speakeasy, the images that come to mind are often dark alleyways, a secret entrance, and some 1920s style vintage cocktails! And even for modern-day speakeasies, that’s not too far off the mark. Speakeasies can still be found all over the United States; they remain popular going-out destinations for tourists and locals alike. Even in the sleepy, friendly mid-western states, there are speakeasies galore for you to visit! My favorite new bar is a hidden speakeasy in Omaha, Nebraska called ‘The Wicked Rabbit.’ The vibe is amazing, the drinks are delicious, and the whole experience is definitely worth a try!
Speakeasies came about in the 1920s and stayed around until around 1933, seeming to mostly disappear after the end of Prohibition in the United States. The terms related to ‘speakeasy’ showed up in Britain in 1823 (speak softly shop) and 1844 (speak easy shop) and showed up in Australia in 1837 (sly grog shops, called ‘speakeasy’s’). In the United States, the term first appeared in the 1880s. It was likely used because the owners would encourage patrons to ‘speak easy’ in public about these venues, so they would not be raided by police. The name stuck, and today, speakeasies still exist all over, though sometimes the term is used simply to refer to a bar in the retro-style.
The Wicked Rabbit
Easily one of Omaha’s best hidden gems, the Wicked Rabbit bar is located in the same building that houses Hotel Deco (which, incidentally, has its own great bar and restaurant called Monarch Prime & Bar). Walk down Farnam Street with the hotel on your right, and you’ll notice a curious, small shop. Called “Looking Glass Cigars & Spirits,” this tiny liquor store is the (not-so) secret entrance to the Wicked Rabbit! The liquor store itself is full of unique spirits and bottles of alcohol that are for sale; personally, I was quick to note the bottle of Yellow Chartreuse on the shelf (harder to find than its green counterpart). Once inside, say hello to the clerk behind the counter and tell them you’re looking for the Wicked Rabbit. It seems that in the past, secret passwords or phrases were used, but nowadays, simply asking for the bar is enough. They do not take reservations, nor will they text you if there is an opening.
The Wicked Rabbit is small, only holding about two dozen people, so sometimes you will have to wait for someone else to exit (out another door, of course!) before you can head inside. The first and third times I visited, I got to walk right in. On my second try, however, the bar was full, and I had to spend a few minutes checking out the bottles along the walls! When I asked to take pictures inside the little liquor store, I was told they don’t like to allow people to do that. I was able to get photos of the outside of the shop and the inside of the bar, however!
Entering The Bar
Once there’s room inside, the clerk will check your IDs and let you in. This is done by pulling forward a bottle of wine on the shelf with a rabbit on the label. Once you pull the bottle, the whole wall swings open and you can head into the tiny bar inside. The room is long and narrow, dimly lit, and the seating is plush and elegant, with gilded low tables and ‘curiosities’ lining the walls (often themed with Alice in Wonderland). You’ll feel a bit like Alice as you head to an open seat! When I’m there, I usually opt for a low table, with a long couch on one side and small tufted stools surrounding it on the other. There are lots of rich colors (golds, purples, and blacks) and subtle details all around.
The menu is substantial and shaped like a small book. All drinks on the menu start out at $13 dollars, so be aware you may pay more if you end up ordering a specialized cocktail. For any other big city, $13 dollars would seem like a perfectly reasonable price, but it’s a bit high for Omaha. However, the price is well worth it. The drinks are excellent, with plenty of booze, and each one I’ve tried so far has been extremely well-balanced and delicious! Most of the cocktails fit the speakeasy theme, with a lot of vintage offerings on the menu. I’ve tried the Bee’s Knees, Jack Rose, and Last Word offered there, and I’ve witnessed numerous people order a gorgeous flaming drink in the bar, too! Music in the bar hits the perfect level to still allow conversation, which is perfect for the vibe. This is the type of bar you’ll enjoy with friends in tow, clustered around a low table with a vintage cocktail in hand, chatting it up in the cozy, elegant atmosphere!
Each time I’ve been in, the wait staff has been nothing short of incredible. Even if you’re not sure what to order, the staff is friendly and knowledgeable, ready to suggest a cocktail based on your preferences. They take the time to listen to what you like, suggesting cocktails to suit every taste, from sweet to herbaceous to boozy. I’ve yet to be disappointed with any of their recommendations!
Must-See In Omaha
This secret bar is a must-see when you’re in Omaha, Nebraska! It’s chic, sophisticated, and so much fun. There’s something so enticing about entering a cozy bar through a secret door, especially when snow and ice fills the streets outside. Don’t let the weather stop you; head out to this hidden gem, dubbed ‘Omaha’s intimate speak-easy’ by the Omaha Visitors Center. The same company that owns this bar also owns a few other bars worth visiting in Omaha, including a supposedly fantastic tiki bar called Laka Lono Rum Club (definitely on my list for the next time I’m in town!) When you’re in Omaha, don’t miss the Wicked Rabbit! For more information, check out the bar’s Facebook page.