Retro cocktails and old-school ambiance at speakeasies around the U.S.

One of my favorite bars in Chicago, the Violet Hour, can be a bit difficult for first-timers to find. There’s no sign, no address, no windows, and upon first glance, no bar there at all. But if you look more closely at the boarded up storefront, you’ll see there is a door. And once inside it, you’ll be transported to another world – one where cell phones are not allowed, where plush curtains absorb the sound of patrons engaged in quiet conversation and candles provide the only light, where it’s “sitting room only” and capacity is strictly controlled, and where inventive cocktails are expertly handcrafted using ingredients like egg whites, rosewater, and homemade bitters.

The Violet Hour is a speakeasy style lounge. The old-timey uniforms of the staff and the novelty of the mystery location provide a gimmick that gets people in the door (once they find it anyway), but what keeps them coming back are the quality cocktails, quiet, relaxed atmosphere and extremely talented staff. Costing $12 each and taking around 10 minutes to make, the cocktails aren’t for those looking for a quick buzz. But for intimate evenings with friends, a romantic date, or just a darn good drink, the Violet Hour is worth searching for.

Along with the Violet Hour, Budget Travel also recommends several other speakeasy lounges around the United States. From Los Angeles to New York and Cleveland to New Orleans, these hip haunts serve up retro cocktails in glamorous throwback settings. You can “party like it’s 1929″, without that pesky Prohibition law.