There’s something fiendishly intentional about drinking establishments like The Press Room. Something radically different from wide-open, well-lit taprooms or sprawling, stained-carpet pool halls, where elbows jostle and beverages are held as if spillage is not only accepted, but expected.
Curated spaces like these demand your attention: not just to the stories being told in cheeky paintings and mixed mid-century furniture, but to the curious libation in your hand and to the (hopefully) synapse-firing, stimulating conversations unfolding around you.
You might have ventured out tonight to get away and disconnect, but instead, you find yourself fully invested in the moment—complicit in allowing a clandestine experience pull you into a can’t-stop-talking-about-it, maybe-I-should-write-murder-mysteries kind of night. And the team at The Press Room, Greenville’s much-anticipated, exclusive new speakeasy inside the AC Hotel, is unabashedly guilty of making magic moments like that happen.
From the second you step off the elevator, into a 1920s newspaper editor’s office and through the sliding, James Bond-esque door, there’s no turning back the page. You’re a character in the story, and this story is about to get good.
For the talent behind The Press Room—including general manager John Deck and master mixologist Kalen Akers, who worked together to bring the creative vision to life—every single detail reflects both the storied history of the building and the future of modern, speakeasy-style bars. In 1919, the building became home to the newly named Greenville News, and just one year later in 1920, Prohibition began. If you look closely at the framed clippings on the walls of The Press Room, you’ll notice that not only are they real artifacts, but they’re also over a century old.
Playful, inspired glassware is informed by the names of Akers’s inventive cocktails, with staff favorites being the Extra Extra! and the 1874. The menu of small plates and desserts changes constantly and with the seasons, celebrating fresh berries in summer, floral ingredients in spring, and pomegranates and apples in winter—and the welcome cocktail that guests are handed as soon as they arrive is different every day. Akers delights in the unexpected—like using chemistry to alter his signature Hot Off the Press margarita—but saves the details of how, exactly, for the moment you’re sitting across from him, and he can tell you the story himself.
If you’re longing to know more, you’ll simply have to seek out a rare reservation—after all, secrecy and mystery are at the heart of The Press Room experience. With only 30 seats, this little nook is designed to feel like a total departure at a different pace from its sister destinations of Juniper and Paloma. In fact, with time to unwind and take in the elevated, transportive speakeasy atmosphere around you, you’ll quickly notice that the sounds of the outside world have slipped away. If you hadn’t been paying attention on the way in, you might even start to wonder if you’re still in the AC Hotel at all.
So when you’re ready for a plot twist, go looking for The Press Room. No spoilers here, but what happens next promises to be both memorable and delicious.
The Press Room inside the AC Hotel, 315 S Main St, Greenville. pressroomgvl.com
GENTLEMEN’S NIGHT OUT: Classic venues for cocktails and camaraderie
Sometimes, you and your crew want to dress for the kind of polished-copper setting and eye-opening libations that could be caught on camera and mistaken for a scene from Ocean’s 11. Swordfish Cocktail Club delivers on just that: elevated, intentional service, daring suggestions, and perfect small plates—all with speakeasy details that leave guests feeling like they share a secret.
220 E Coffee St, Greenville; swordfishcocktails.com
A getaway that feels like coming home is a rare find, but a very real experience at EXILE. Outside of wildly fun, beautifully crafted cocktails and had-a-helluva-day beer and whiskey pairings, the vibe in this tucked-away spot is at once familiar, like an old friend invited you in, while still somehow a departure from the ordinary night out. I blame the big imaginations, and even bigger grins, of the proprietors.
9 Anderson St, Suite B, Greenville; exilegvl.com
Who knew a list of rules could be so fun? If you’re lucky enough to actually find the entrance to Vault & Vator, you’re in for an elevated and creative experience. There’s a reason this speakeasy, hidden behind the chaos of Main Street and complete with century-old details, insists on rules like no standing or cell phones—it ensures your night out is second to none. Pro tip: ask for the Dealer’s Choice.
655 S Main St, Greenville; vaultandvator.com
Off the beaten path—but well worth the trip—is Cameroon Cigar Lounge, a mellow, welcoming spot in downtown Greer perfect for pairing your love of the leaf with a beautiful whiskey. Whether you’re a novice or a lifelong aficionado, the staff at Cameroon is happy to make suggestions and share their collection of more than 60 bourbons, 40 scotches, and dozens of craft beers.
207 Trade St, Greer; cameroonlounge.com
If your ideal beverage is a beer so big, so wise, and so elegantly served that it could tempt a monk into trouble, you’ll love the Trappe Door. Descend past flickering lamps, down winding steps and back in time to a well-worn, wrap-around bar where friendly bartenders pour Belgian-style brews, laugh with their whole bodies, and can occasionally be caught tasting house-made absinthe.
23 W Washington St, Greenville; trappedoor.com
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