Why are speakeasy-inspired bars trending in Baton Rouge? A few locals are in on the secret

It’s hard to imagine a time when drinking was not allowed in south Louisiana. But during the Prohibition era this was, in fact, the case. In Baton Rouge and around this country, this led to the birth of secret bars known as speakeasies.

Some required codes to get in, and others were hidden behind walls. And although times have since changed, secretive, speakeasy-inspired bars are phasing back into existence in the Capital Region. In our latest episode of Between the Lines, 225 sought out these New Age speakeasies, starting with The Brakes Bar.

It sits tucked behind Spoke & Hub off Government Street. It has no phone number, website or reservation system. What was once an office space was reimagined by the bar’s Alan Walter.

“They built it out as a bar but left it free of any décor. They allowed me to generate the vibe of the place and the content. It’s just been really fun,” Walter says.

The glow of neon lights and warm candles sets the mood, complemented by Walter’s soundtrack of rock and country music. Behind the bar is a menagerie of bottles and fruits that Walter skillfully weaves into delicious drinks, earning him the title Sprit Handler at The Brakes Bar.

The Brakes Bar was an office and even an apartment before it became a speakeasy.

Another bar in downtown Baton Rouge is even more challenging to find. The Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center’s The Tunnel hides underground. Originally known as Peacock Alley, it is rumored the space was used by Louisiana Gov. Huey P. Long as a clandestine passageway between the the Heidelberg Hotel (now the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center) and the King Hotel (now the Hotel Indigo Baton Rouge Downtown).

After many renovations, the bar opened in early 2023. With the help of interior designers, Hilton staff turned the bar into a living time capsule. The bar boasts custom glasses and many secrets. Finding them can get you a special reward—even entry into the bar.

The Tunnels class-themed glasses. Make sure to ask for the giggle water.
The Tunnel features art deco glassware.

“We have Green Cup ladies, and they’re the first ones you’re going to interact with somewhere in the hotel. I won’t tell you where you’ll find them, (but) they’ll stand out. ” says Taylor Thompson, special events manager at the Hilton. “You’ll be instructed to say a prompt or read them a prompt, and then that prompts them to in turn give you the next clue on how to make it down here.”

The secret nature of these bars is alluring to those inside and outside the city. The Brakes Bar opens at 3 p.m. every day of the week except for Monday. The Tunnel is “activated” for the public at random dates throughout the year.

For an inside look, watch 225‘s new Between the Lines series.