Please don’t call Backbar a speakeasy. Yes, it is hidden in an alley, and the entrance looks like the staff entrance for Journeyman, the restaurant next door. And the metal door looks like it might expect a password. And when you open the door, and emerge into this delightful open space with laughter, and music, it will all feel like a beautiful secret. A speakeasy.
It is not a speakeasy, because that term is so overused. The industrial and graffiti aesthetic of Backbar is far beyond the typical 1920s style that others have copied. The menu is not just whiskey and gin, but also Italian amaro, locally distilled rums, and homemade syrups. The bartenders will make flawless standards: Old Fashioned’s and martinis, but they may also tempt you with a margarita garnished with flame roasted chilies.
It is not a speakeasy because speakeasies don’t serve ramen. And their ramen is one of the city’s hidden secrets. It’s a hearty broth served with pork belly and a rich heap of hand-pulled noodles. You get a choice of toppings to add to it. Resist the urge for extra pork belly. It’s already plenty rich. Go for the pickled ginger instead. For something lighter, their spiced popcorn is always a classic
Do not call Backbar a speakeasy because a speakeasy is where drinking is a vice and secret to be hidden from others. Backbar is place that plays by its own rules, and it plays with pride.