Finding a speakeasy in Downtown Orlando is not an easy feat. The streets quickly become filled with rowdy college students lining up to get into the hottest clubs and night spots; and those of us who prefer a quieter, classier night out are not encouraged to stick around. But for those in the know, you can escape from this rambunctious crew and slip back in time to Orlando’s best secret gem hidden within the historic Hanson Building.
Hanson’s Shoe Repair is very well hidden and requires multiple steps for entry. First you must call or text earlier in the day to receive the password that changes nightly (our password for the night was Vonnegut, and we loved the vintage literary nod). Second, there is a listed address, but this is no easy place to find. We wandered down the street checking locked doors, backtracking, and looking lost; lo and behold you have to go through another bar to find Hanson’s hidden upstairs. We expected to find a “Shoe Repair” sign somewhere outside, but there was nothing. A name like Hanson’s Shoe Repair, with no sign, and the required password gives this speakeasy a top notch score in secrecy!
Once you finally find your way upstairs and give the evening’s password, you walk up yet another flight of stairs and find yourself in a dimly lit, vintage, wooden space. It felt very masculine and rustic with hints of gothic romance. There are two very different spaces to the bar, this inside space is narrow and holds the actual bar itself with hardly any seating, and then the roof terrace. Take a few steps up and you find yourself outside on a roof with long tables to relax along. The terrace was playing vintage movies on a wall projector and overall had a more green, airy, vibe than the dark wooden interior. The unique terrace with outdoor seating really sets Hanson’s apart from other speakeasies.
The building is actually the oldest standing building in the downtown Orlando area. It genuinely was a shoe repair shop back in 1883 and stayed in the Hanson family for over 60 years. Owners of the building have continued to honor the Hanson family through the years by keeping shop antiquities and photographs around. The speakeasy continues the legacy of the Hanson family, utilizes the historic building in new fascinating ways, and keeps the vintage class alive!
The drinks were of standard craft cocktail variety, even honoring drinks from other well known speakeasies around the country, including Apotheke in NYC and WIlliams & Graham in Denver (both of which we love). The speakeasy has been around for quite a few years now and they certainly know how to make potent and delicious libations. Also at $12 a cocktail, they are one of the most budget friendly hidden bars we’ve found.
Hanson’s is a place to remember, and a place to experience. A true antique that keeps giving in a building that is as fun to explore as it is to drink in. Make sure you look for the secret exit to leave through the back! We already can’t wait to go back and look for more secrets.
Drink on my friends,