Play Hard

Step inside secret speakeasy The Exchange, Newcastle…

Eccentricity, escapism and 1920s glamour prevail in this prohibition-style basement bar.

Written by Becky Hardy
Published 12.09.2022

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If you’re bored of sipping the same old drinks in the same old bars, then the answer to your partying prayers might be hiding in plain sight.

Tucked just off Newcastle’s Northumberland Street, behind the façade of a red ‘telephone box’, lies underground speakeasy The Exchange. And this basement bar promises to tantalise the tastes of even the most discerning cocktail drinkers.

Psst – they serve bottomless brunch every day, too…


A veritable haven of relaxation underneath the bustling high street above, The Exchange offers all the glamour, intimacy and eccentricity of the roaring 1920s.

Taking inspiration from old-school telephone exchanges – which were a commonly used disguise for speakeasy bars during the prohibition era in America – The Exchange is awash with neon signs, gilded mirrors, antique trinkets and lots of vintage telephone memorabilia.

In other words, it’s an Instagrammer’s dream.

Quirky, characterful and, in parts, downright outrageous, you can tell The Exchange’s charm comes from its individuality.

Owners Alan and Andrena‘s previous venture – renovating an old hotel – resulted in the pair stumbling across a treasure trove of lost relics in the hotel’s attic; relics they’ve polished up and reupholstered themselves to decorate The Exchange.

It’s an effort which has helped them carve out a bar-shaped niche unlike any other here in Newcastle, which is an impressive enough feat in itself. But they’re not stopping there…


A business is built on its people, which, by our reckoning, means The Exchange is up there with the best.

Walk into this Newcastle speakeasy on any day of the week and you’ll be greeted with a warm welcome by a small team who are visibly passionate about what they do.

In fact, each team member has a large part to play in the running of the bar. Unlike larger chains, The Exchange’s independence means everyone here pitches in with keeping things running smoothly: from co-creating the cocktail menu to inspiring the décor or managing the social accounts. We guess that’s what makes The Exchange’s team so special – they really do care.

And what they care about most is you. Their dedication to providing the ultimate customer experience means you can pretty much expect to be treated like a VIP from the moment you walk in.

No request is too much trouble, every attention to detail is considered and every effort is always made to ensure this drinking destination is one you’ll always remember. Which, to us, sounds like a recipe for success.

Oh, and if you needed any more convincing of the staff’s sincerity, The Exchange is run by a team of dog lovers, who welcome your four-legged friends into the bar day and night.

See? We told you they were great.


The axis on which this bar keeps spinning is its cocktails.

Not just any cocktails, at that. Stylish cocktails. Sexy cocktails. Cocktails you quite simply wouldn’t find anywhere else.

Take the Leave You On Hold, for example – a naughty combo of gin, Aperol, pineapple, lime, passionfruit and prosecco. Or the Speed Dial, which brings together blanco tequila, Licor 43, peach and lemon for a unique burst of flavour. Call Me Maybe? effortlessly blends Absolut vanilla vodka, strawberry aperitif, strawberry acid and cream soda for a saintly swathe of sweetness, while The Russian Mob – Havana spiced rum, coffee liqueur, chocolate liqueur and oat milk – tastes dark, dangerous and divine.

And they’re along with all your usual suspects. You’ve got filthy pornstars and bubbling prosecco; espresso martinis, miso caramel martinis and even flat white martinis; Jazzy Juice, Flirty Flappers and Smooth Operators. All this alongside an extensive wine list, spirits up to your eyeballs and enough beer and lager to sink a battleship.

Fancy something next level eccentric? How about a Last Call – sherry, pear liqueur, Irish and Scotch whisky, delivered into your open arms by miniature train.

Yep, the cocktails at The Exchange are cracking. Expertly crafted by connoisseurs who’ve been in the mixology game longer than we’ve been drinking these beauties, the bevs here won’t fail to blow you away.

But best of all, they also won’t break the bank.

Unlike other cocktail bars in Newcastle, where you can expect your tab to easily rack up into the high double figures, the drinks deals at The Exchange make your next glam night out with the gals much more affordable.

How? With not one but two separate Happy Hours deals:

  • £6 cocktails from 4pm–6pm, Sunday to Friday
  • Half-price prosecco every day from 5pm–6pm

We don’t know about you, but they certainly make us want to get fizzy with it.

Check out the drinks menu here


Not that it’s all about the drinks in this underground speakeasy. The Exchange also happens to double up as an intimate dining destination perfect for date night, mate night or a mid-shopping pitstop with panache.

Casual dining is the name of the game here – not that the chefs would know it, given their meticulous attention to the details of every dish. Their efforts to serve up Italian/American cuisine with creativity and care means that something as simple as a burger and beer can feel très chic.

We say ‘simple’, but where else could you get a Dirty Dialler burger – buttermilk chicken, smoked bacon, cheese and Exchange sauce served between two sweet Belgian waffles? Or a Harlem Hooker – battered white fish with pickled red cabbage, cajun corn and guacamole tacos?

We found their garlic and parmesan flatbreads perfect for tearing and sharing, while their Bacon Halloumi Burger we kept all to ourselves. And their pesto fries were the perfect bar snack as we sipped our cocktails.

Plus, The Exchange’s extensive vegan and veggie offering means we’re as likely to order The Great Pretender (bean burger with lettuce, tomato, smoked cheddar and garlic mayo) or the Torriros Trickster(halloumi with dressed slaw, sweet chilli sauce and spring onion tacos), as we were anything else.

It’s good, honest scran levelled up. But despite the impressive cuisine, the personable customer service with which your food is served keeps mealtimes laidback here. So, whether you’re dolled up to the nines or you’ve popped in from a trek through town with the kids, you’re always going to fit in with the crowd.

Struggling with what to order? We asked the chef what their favourites are on the menu right now…

Chef’s pick:

  • Starters – a toss-up between the mac ‘n’ cheese or the halloumi fries. They refused to confirm which would win.
  • Mains – the BBQ chicken flatbread with hot cheese fries.
  • Dessert – the chocolate brownie sundae. Apparently, it never disappoints.

Check out the food menu here


If that little lot wasn’t enough, then it might interest you to know that The Exchange have got you covered on the entertainment front, too.

First up, the words on everybody’s lips right now: bottomless brunch.

Yep, The Exchange have a tasty bottomless brunch offering that you’ll find hard to beat. See, they keep things simple and classic. Every day from 11am to 3pm, you’ll find traditional brunch fare – waffles, pancakes, bacon, egg and hash browns – paired with traditional brunch bevs: Bellinis, mimosas, Bloody Marys and prosecco.

Because if it ain’t broke, there’s absolutely no point in fixing it, is there?

Choose one generously portioned brunch dish (which can be vegan-friendly) along with your choice of poison (you can mix and match your drinks, FYI) and enjoy 90 minutes of hilarity – all for £27.99 per person

Bottomless brunch is served at The Exchange from 11am–3pm every day.

Now something for all the sports fans in the house. Love watching the match out with a little atmosphere, but searching for somewhere less ‘lads, lads, lads,’ and more ‘lasses and dads’?!

We’re talking about somewhere you don’t have to fight for the best seats in the house or where sitting down doesn’t mean risking getting a pint spilled down your back. Somewhere with full Sky Sports and BT Sports packages, wide-screen TVs and space to stretch back and chill out, but which doesn’t compromise ambience for comfort. Somewhere with character, charm and plenty of craic…

Ok, so if you didn’t know we were talking about The Exchange already, honestly – where have you been this whole article?!

All sporting fixtures can be made available on request at The Exchange.

Booking a hen party? Got a big birthday coming up? Celebrating a special achievement? Organising leaving drinks? We’ve got two words for you:


Cocktail making

Head down to The Exchange with up to 15 of your mates, take over an entire section of the bar and learn from the master mixologists at The Exchange.

Speaking from experience, cocktail making is so much fun. And when you’re levelling up your standard sex on the beaches for a cheeky Charleston or two, you know it’ll be a night out you won’t forget in a hurry. Unless you have one too many cocktails, that is.


Whether it’s date night with the other half or a session with the girls, a mid-shopping rendezvous or a birthday meal out with the fam, The Exchange is a unique drinking and dining destination that’s sure to deliver exactly what you’re after.

Intimate and friendly, glamorous yet laidback, sophisticated but still a little naughty, this prohibition-style speakeasy is the best-kept secret in Newcastle.

So, we’ll see you there?



Find out more about visiting The Exchange on their website or follow them on Facebook and Instagram 

The Exchange, Prudhoe Chare, Northumberland Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7AT

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