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The Hidden Bar In Folkestone That You Need A Password To Enter

If you’re going to run a speakeasy and sell liquor illegally, you have to take certain measures to prevent getting shut down by the police. You might, for example, disguise the door to the bar as a stack of shelves. Perhaps you would give out secret entry passwords to select groups of trustworthy people. And that’s exactly what this bar in Folkestone does.

We sent the email to book our table, and received a response straight away to confirm the booking. Then, on the day, an email arrived in our inbox with the secret password, along with instructions on how to enter the bar. It was all very cloak and dagger.

But of course, there’s nothing illegal going on here. This bar is inspired by the speakeasy bars from the Prohibition era in 1920s America, when alcohol was made illegal. These were private, unlicensed barrooms, nicknamed ‘speakeasies’, so called because of the bartenders’ requests for the patrons to ‘speak easy’ (speak quietly) inside the venue, so as not to draw any unnecessary attention to it. The illicit bars ranged from fancy clubs with jazz bands and ballroom dance floors, to dingy backroom basements and rooms in the back of general stores and inside apartments. A password would be given to you to gain entry, which would be quietly spoken so as not to be overheard by law enforcement.

The secret location

If you wanted to find out where this fantastic little Folkestone venue is hidden, you would have to look in the most unexpected of places. If you happen to wander past the antiques shop called The Potting Shed on Rendezvous Street after hours, you might notice the occasional group of people ringing the doorbell, despite the closed sign that’s clearly on display. Just saying.

Inside the speakeasy bar

We were greeted at the front door by our waitress, dressed in her 1920s attire, with an inquisitive look on her face, wondering why we were ringing her doorbell. But when we spoke the password, her face broke into a wry smile. With a surreptitious glance out on to the street, she ushered us inside. It was all part of the theatre of this wonderful idea, and it really adds to the experience.

Classic cocktails from the period

The bar itself has a cosy, intimate feel, with a dim pool of light cast from each table lamp, and obviously, no windows. You really feel like you have stepped into a different world. They have done a great job of creating just the right atmosphere. The bar is full table service, and you can peruse the cocktail menu full of classic concoctions from the 1920s and 30s, whilst you nibble on the complimentary nuts. And the aromas of fresh citrus and all sorts of other wonderful scents that drift over from the bar are simply glorious.

A Brandy Old Fashioned
The White Lady

We decided to try a wide selection of drinks from the menu, and they were all delicious. The Old Fashioned cocktails were especially good. Traditionally a whiskey drink, mixed with sugar and bitters, the brandy Old Fashioned was Remy Martin v.s.o.p., Maraschino Liqueur, Maraschino, Juice and Cherry Bitters. Mixed perfectly, it was sour and sweet, and the flavour of cherry balanced beautifully with the hit of brandy.

Ginger Daiquiri
A Rum Old Fashioned

An intimate, unique environment

This is a place for a quiet drink. The house rules emblazoned on the wall state that you must not disturb the other guests, you must enter quietly and leave silently. And there are a host of other rules, all in keeping with the spirit of the speakeasy. It is not a party bar. It’s a place to enjoy a well mixed drink in an intimate, unique environment. The sound of low-level chatter and the jazz music emanating from the speakers fills the space. When you sip your cocktail and take in your surroundings, you are transported back to a simpler time, and it’s wonderful.

Amaretto Sour
French 75

A moment of inspiration

This fantastic idea is the brainchild of owner, David Holden. David moved to Folkestone from London, opening The Potting Shed in the spring of 2019. He told us his story, and how the idea came about for the speakeasy.

David Holden – Owner of The Potting Shed

“My background is in men’s fashion, which I worked in for 25 years,” recalls David. “When I moved to Folkestone, I was still commuting to London to work for a menswear brand. I’d had the idea of opening an interiors shop down here but I knew it wouldn’t make much money. Then, one day I was up in Birmingham doing some training for my menswear job, at a shop called The Liquor Store. The shop is set out over two levels and you go downstairs and it’s all racked out in clothes as you would expect to see in a shop. And then they’ve got three hooks on the wall, where you’d hang your jacket, and you pull the middle hook and a little door opens, and you go through into a speakeasy.”

Search for stays in Folkestone

And that was the moment of inspiration that David was looking for. “I thought, that’s it! That was the lightbulb moment. That can be the second string to the bow.”

The perfect location

When David found the unit that eventually became his shop, he realised that the layout lent itself perfectly to having a secret bar at the back. “It’s quite big at the front, and quite big at the back and then it naturally narrows in the middle. And because I’d already thought of the name for the business, The Potting Shed, I thought – genius idea, I’ll build a shed in the middle of the shop, and that can be the secret entrance through to the cocktail bar!”

The birth of the cocktail

David has never worked in a bar before, so I wondered how he learned to mix such fabulous tasting cocktails. “I wanted to do a proper speakeasy. So I wanted classic cocktails from the prohibition era from 1920 to 1933. I started researching into it all, and it’s fascinating when you delve into it. Alcohol was banned in the states during that time, so people had to bootleg it. They used to make it at home, hence bathtub Gin – that’s where that name came from. And so it tasted disgusting, and they started mixing it with things to take the taste away, hence the birth of the cocktail. I wanted the drinks to be as true to that period of time as I could. I found a mixologist down here, and together we came up with a drinks list of classic cocktails from that period of time. And he taught me, essentially. I’ve got it all in my head now, but there’s so much to learn, it’s ongoing really. It’s about educating your palate to know how the drinks should taste, which takes time.”

And there’s more

And if that wasn’t enough for David, there’s even more to add to the list of creative ideas, with TPS Overnight. “Yeah, we’ve got the overnight, which was a lockdown project. I used to travel to Paris during fashion week. At one of the shows that we used to go to, there was a food wagon outside, and it was one of these old Citroen vans, the corrugated iron ones that you see. I had this idea that it would make a great Airbnb. During the first lockdown, I said to my girlfriend about getting one of these Citroen vans. She said, “Yeah, I don’t really think you ought to spend your money on that!” I said, “oh, well I’ve seen one on eBay, so I’ll just put a like cheeky little bid in, I won’t get it.”

But it turned out David won the van. A friend fitted it out for him whilst he set about landscaping his garden and installing a toilet and shower block. It’s now available for a unique overnight stay. Perfect after a night of cocktails at the speakeasy.

We highly recommend you book a visit to the bar. It’s a unique experience right here in Folkestone, and the cocktails are delicious. To book a table, email David at, or call him on 07967 006 696

Follow The Speakeasy @tps_speakeasy, The Interiors Shop @tpsfolkestone, and The Overnight @tps_overnight on Instagram. And be sure to visit too.

Visiting from out of town? Why not book a stay?

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