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“Cool place!”

The Bookstore Speakeasy
Ranked #33 of 352 Restaurants in Bethlehem
Cuisines: American, Seafood, Bar
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic
Dining options: Late Night, Reservations
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Level 6 Contributor
782 reviews
551 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 315 helpful votes
“Cool place!”
Reviewed October 21, 2011

Dont ask for a miller lite, or a captain and coke. If it was around in 1925 it isn't on the menu. A very unique place to go. It's in the basement of a corner building in south bethlehem. Only a door that says "bookstore" on it. Just like a real speakeasy, you walk into a bookstore. The bar is through a black curtain. When you go in, it's lit by candles, lots of them, so if you don't like dark places, you wont like the place. Nice place to grab some unique food and relax with a good drink and listen to some music. Very romantic and cozy.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank BethlehemPaUSA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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187 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    90
    47
    27
    16
    7
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Norwegian first
  • Any
English first
Easton, Pennsylvania
Level 5 Contributor
62 reviews
41 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
“What a cool place that I never heard of!”
Reviewed September 13, 2011

A friend recommended this "20's style bar" where the bar tenders were "mixologists". We agreed to go check it out. You check in through an unsigned door (if you did not know where to look, it would be hard to find this place). When you walk in, it is dark, old bulb incandescent lights illuminate a jazz band in the back, and bar tenders in black and white attire (although the place is by no means formal). When you are sat, you are given a book that has the drink menu embedded (have your droid light ready because it is hard to read). Drinks are made with actual block ice (which is the best), and ingredients you probably have not heard of before (chartreuse??). Very unique stuff, and STRONG! The food (small plates) was great and unexpected. Olives, bruschetta, duck, mussels, slab bacon sandwich, (strange combination I know) were all prepared with expertise. We will definitely return to this hidden gem in Bethlehem. Will sit at the bar next time versus in a booth so we can watch the mixologists in action.

  • Visited August 2011
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank 3SERBIMRM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Level 6 Contributor
107 reviews
73 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 73 helpful votes
“Best Bar I've been in...”
Reviewed July 3, 2011

Innocent door on an alley near Lehigh U. once you are behind the black curtains you are back in a very classy, non-gimmicky old bar... we sat at bar and watched some amazing bartenders who take their craft very seriously make some amazing concoctions.
A gin fizz was hand crafted in 10 minutes of precise steps. Some tables had their own punch bowl. very hard to describe other that check it our, don't be in a hurry. The music was also great. checkout their facebook for passwords ...

  • Visited July 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank sachmogoat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston, Massachusetts
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“A Fun Trip into a Different Era”
Reviewed February 21, 2011

I've been to The Bookstore a number of times over the past year or so and have found the prohibition-style bar to be a fun and refreshing break from the usual Pennsylvanian night scene. Their significant cocktail and beer list is creative (you might first wonder where it is, because it's glued into the first few pages of a book) and includes many off-the-beaten-path selections. (Try an egg-based cocktail for the full experience!) I've also had wonderful luck ordering off the menu; during my last visit, nothing on the menu was really grabbing me, so my waiter suggested I give a few guidelines and let the bartender invent his own concoction... The end product was delicious! More than anything though, the styling of the place really sent me back and before long I completely forget that I was in Bethlehem, PA!

I will concede to the previous reviewer that the staff can occasionally be a little snooty (I would be too if I was a master of the 20's cocktail!) and that the prices are above average for the area, but I still argue that it's a unique experience, that's definitely worth the premium.

  • Visited December 2010
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank BierMadl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Douglassville, PA
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Arrogant staff, overpriced menu”
Reviewed December 19, 2010

Upside:
This restaurant, styled after a Prohibition-era speakeasy, has a unique atmosphere and a nice vibe. The beer and wine menu is fairly extensive, with a European flair.

Now to the downside:
1. We found the staff to be rude and arrogant. After our table of four was seated, they refused entry to a friend who asked to join us - even though the restaurant was over half empty (at 10:30PM). Adjacent tables sat empty while our friend went home (we left shortly thereafter).

2. The restaurant strives to offer a food and drink offering equivalent to what one would find in Europe. Hower, the variety and quality is just not up to par based on my experience.

3. The pricing cannot be supported by the food / drink offering. They are way higher than equivalent Lehigh Valley restaurants. In fact they are actually significantly higher than what I have paid in Brussels or London, even though the variety and quality falls short.

Bottom line:
Slightly above-average quality and substandard service at high prices does not constitute a good value. Even the Lehigh Valley's limited restaurant/bar options provide enough opportunity for a better night out.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
3 Thank PSUVirginia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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