D.C.’s speakeasies today couldn’t hold a candle to the originals. The Prohibition hit in 1920, but the booze never stopped flowing in D.C., which hosted up to 3,000 speakeasies after Prohibition began in 1917. One of the most famous was the Krazy Kat Speakeasy.
Located in a narrow alley off of Massachusetts Avenue NW, the speakeasy was opened on the second floor of a stable, by artist Cleon Throckmorton. Patrons would cross over lumber and farm equipment to get to the winding staircase that led to the club and its courtyard treehouse.
It was known for its rowdy live jazz performances which often descended into mayhem. It was also a popular rendezvous spot for the gay and poly communities in D.C. Municipal authorities called it a “den of vice.” Over time, it became one of D.C.’s most vogue spots for artists, musicians, and even politicians to congregate.
Artist Cleon Throckmorton, his first wife Katherine "Kat" Mullen, and a friend enjoy refreshments in the external treehouse of the Krazy Kat speakeasy. (National Photo Company Collection/Wikimedia Commons)
Krazy Kat stayed open the better half of a decade, surviving dozens of raids, but eventually closed when Throckmorton moved away. The building no longer exists, but it is across from where Green Lantern now sits.
When Prohibition ended, one reporter said, "Somehow, after 17 years without it, Washingtonians seemed to hold their liquor quite well."
But if you're over chugging forties, D.C.’s also killing the non-alc cocktail game right now. Try out some of our faves.