Murphy's Tavern, Rumson NJ

Rumson’s Long Running Speakeasy


Tucked away in the middle of a quaint residential street, Murphy’s Tavern speakeasy in Rumson, was originally an unassuming cellar that took on the role of a speakeasy shortly after the adoption of the 18th Amendment, when bootleggers and rum runners set up a pop-up shop. More than 10 decades and a few “legitimate” owners later, this basement watering hole might be the Jersey Shore’s best hidden gem.

Behind the Door

Just a few 100 feet back from Rumson’s main commercial drag, 17 Ward Lane at first glance looks like any other house on the block. Because it really is a house, with nothing other than a small “Murphy’s Since Prohibition” wooden sign suggesting the presence of anything else. The bar is on the other side of a nondescript door near the end of an ordinary-looking driveway.

However, as you open the door, you are immediately transported to the best-looking man cave—or she-shed, take your pick—that you’d ever want fitted into the bottom floor of your home. The room is dimly lit with a black-and-white checkered floor, red walls, and darkly stained wainscoting. Wine barrels repurposed as pub tables compete for space with a full-size shuffleboard and a cozy bar top.

Since 2005 Heather Vena and Rob McMahon have co-owned and operated Murphy’s Tavern speakeasey in Rumson, which Thrillist ( named as “Jersey’s Best Small Town Bar in Every State.” McMahon was proud to confirm that they tend to serve more “boots than suits,” even though much of Rumson is home to mansions and estates. With a wink, McMahon said how someone has to service all the nice houses. The reality is, however, that this out-of-sight tavern caters to everyone.

Pair it Well

Murphy’s Tavern serves a menu of handcrafted cocktails for $15 a pop, like the Honey B. with Titos, Honeysuckle Orange Simple Syrup topped with Prosecco, or a classic Bulleit Bourbon Old Fashioned. Their $10 tall drinks such as the Stoli Vodka and Ginger Beer Mule pair well with a small but tasty menu of snacks.

Grab a bar pie with pepperoni or get a little fancy with their white pizza with mushroom and truffle oil. Oh, and their pork roll fries are a must try—crispy strips of fried Taylor Ham served with ketchup and cheese sauce.

Open seven days a week from 4:00pm – 2:00am, Murphy’s Tavern is also a perfect pre-game hangout before dinner. Note that parking is only available on the street—and trust me, there really is a bar under that house.

So, take this tip from a “hot shot professional food blogger” and hang at Murphy’s, enjoy another pint, play some darts, and listen to Bruce on their jukebox.

’Cause that is a guaranteed nice night out!

murphy's tavern
murphy's tavern


Rumson has a handful of well-known restaurants perfect for dining out—visit Salt Creek Grille for one of their mouthwatering hand-cut steaks, or keep it casual and check out what some on social media are declaring is the best burger in Jersey at Barnacle Bills. And when it comes to local bars, that age-old question of “Is a bar really a neighborhood bar if not everyone knows about it?” is worth asking. Because in the case of Murphy’s Tavern {17 Ward Lane, Rumson; 732.842.1600; murphysrumson. com} in Rumson, the answer is an emphatic yes! In fact, it’s probably the most neighborly that a bar can be.

About the Author:

Adam Horvath is a true Jersey Guy. A CFO by trade, he is a food blogger by passion with an appreciation for local and indigenous foods. Check out his food blog, “Foodigenous,” for entertaining stories about some of the country’s best little-known foods.

Let Dining Out Jersey know if you have a Dining Out story to share!