Everyone loves a secret, especially New Yorkers, and speakeasies have been a not-so-secret tradition here since Prohibition. Back then, speakeasies were a necessity for anyone seeking libations in a dry town. Now, they are havens for those searching for an off-the-beaten-path cocktail experience. If you’re a New York local or visitor, here are just five of the many New York speakeasies that will ‘wet’ your whistle.
135 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn
Inspired by Marie Antoinette’s private chambers, this spot is a must-see! Guests enter via a secret bookcase and passageway beneath the restaurant Chez Moi. Le Boudoir offers seasonal craft cocktails in a rich Rococo setting. Each cocktail is a unique piece of art and the attentive service makes patrons feel like royalty.
48 West 17th Street, Manhattan
Located in the Chelsea neighborhood, this venue is named after an 1896 law meant to curb New Yorkers’ liquor consumption. But in 2018, patrons are encouraged to consume away!
Venture past the discrete door buzzer and discerning host, and you will find a windowless space filled with a slightly garish flare–which pretty much nails the flamboyant twenties cocktail vibe. And speaking of cocktails! The Garden Paloma, made with tequila, jalapeño agave, Perrier, grapefruit, and a pinch of salt, will take you back in time.
Be sure to arrive early to secure one of the private tables with buzzer service that are surrounded by black gauze curtains for privacy.
8 Stuyvesant Street, Manhattan
Remarkably, Angel’s Share remains completely unknown to some of its neighbors, and that is part of its charm. Loitering and large groups are discouraged which makes Angel’s Share the perfect date spot.
Walk through the side door at the front of the Japanese restaurant Village Yokocho, and you’ll find yourself in the middle of a quintessentially East Village experience. Enjoy a view of Stuyvesant Square while sipping one of the city’s best Grasshoppers–served by a tuxedoed barman. Expert bartenders mix up classic cocktails but are also willing to surprise you with a custom-tailored creation.
226 W 79th Street, Manhattan
Enter through a green tufted leather door inside the restaurant Burke & Wills on the Upper West Side to find an atmosphere conducive to the oh-so-civilized conversation.
Keeping with the inspiration of Burke and Wills, the Manhattan Cricket Club is reminiscent of a colonial gentlemen’s clubs of the Old Empire, though ladies are allowed too. Replete with Persian carpets, bookshelves, rich leather chairs, dark wood and gilded sconces, you will find yourself transported to another time and place.
The bar offers a large variety of creative cocktails including a menu section called The Prime Ministers Selection. And if you’re in the James Bond mood, try the Martini service.
Note on etiquette: Guests are requested to dress in a manner that suits the atmosphere and rowdy bar behavior is very looked down upon.
49 W 27th Street, Manhattan
A neon sign reading Patent Pending will lead you toward an intriguing speakeasy behind an unassuming coffee shop in NoMad. It’s all housed in the Radio Wave building which used to be home to the famous inventor Nikola Tesla.
Through a heavy set of after-hours doors, you will come out into a dark, sultry, cave-like space. After making your way through an alcove full of low-hanging lanterns, you’ll find yourself in a dimly lit yet very comfortable bar.
The menu is divided into four Tesla-inspired categories: Energy, Frequency, Vibration and Descent. Drinks are equally compelling with names like the Hit By a Taxi (Japanese whiskey, Armagnac, sweet vermouth, Pu’erh tea, Curacao, star anise) and Radio Waves (tequila, mezcal, Agricole rum, basil, Thai chile, lime, and cucumber).
So, if you’re looking for the most unique and coolest speakeasies, rest easy—New York’s got you covered. For more ideas to enjoy NYC, check out some can’t-miss summer events or the city’s most enticing food halls.