There are many reasons why New York is one of the greatest cities in the world: its famous attractions, vibrant nightlife scene, cultural happenings and the tons of unique things to do that will surely keep even the most discerning traveler entertained.
But if you dig deep, you’ll discover a whole world of hidden treasures, ideal for those who want to treat someone to something seemingly exclusive. One of these are the so-called ‘secret’ bars with discrete doors and special entrances, where the spirit of the 1920s rules, and there is no shortage of cocktails by candlelight and the pleasure of knowing someone less ‘in the know.’ Just try not to tell too many others!
PDT (Please Don’t Tell)
Walk down a set of stairs into the Crif Dogs Restaurant on St. Marks Place. Look for a vintage wooden phone booth from the 1940s. Step inside, pick up the phone and press the buzzer… once, not twice. A voice answers and, after approval, the wall of the phone booth opens and you enter into a small room with a bar at its center, with very somber and tasteful atmosphere, that is truly worth the experience.
The cocktail menu at PDT is just haven, and an absolute work of art, with the speakeasy’s signature drink being the bacon-infused bourbon sweetened with maple syrup. Here you’ll hear classic rock, old-school hip hop and Sinatra. Food-wise, you’ll be able to order from the Crif Dogs menu, featuring mainly hot dogs and burgers.
Short for Please Don’t Tell, PDT topped Drinks International’s World’s 50 Best Bars list. Reservations are essential to avoid being the sad patron munching on a hot dog outside the phone booth.
Hidden down a flight of stairs in a nondescript corner of the West Village, the super cozy Little Branch is another fine edition to the cocktail empire of Milk and Honey’s Sasha Petraske. The professional suspender-clad bartenders lovingly mix and pour a unique menu of classic cocktails over ice chipped from blocks, while the live jazz performances Sundays through Thursdays, simply add to the magical atmosphere of the venue. In this establishment only extremely well-made drinks are served, and if it isn’t extremely well made, the bartender will gladly take your inferior potable and replace it with something sure to make your nostrils flare with delight. Once inside you can comfortably hone in one of the booths, but the best option is to post up at the bar. Do not forget to try such Prohibition-style cocktails as Sidecars and Aviations.
The Raines Law Room
In true speakeasy style with a lot of velvet and dark wood, the Raines Law Room is found in 24 E 39th St, between Park and Madison, in the close vicinity of Milk & Honey, and Angel’s Share. It is a little black door that you ring the doorbell and a man answers the door and lets you in. Here drinks are prepared in a beautiful but half-hidden back room surrounded by gleaming examples of every tool and gizmo a barkeep could wish for.
The interior of the bar is sexy and glamorous, featuring wallpaper patterned with sex acts (yes that’s right), as well as Victorian furnishings like vintage trunks, musty books, antique chessboards and shadowy mirrors, making it a den that is hard to believe it only opened in the year of 2009. No phone number of the bar is listed and reservations are only taken by email for the first three nights of every week. A private outdoor back harden is open for visitors during the warmer months.
Death & Co
Unlike the above mentioned bars, there is no hidden door to get into Death & Co. Just find a storefront on East Sixth Street with wooden panels in place of windows and give your number to the bouncer at the door. Soon the doorman will text you when there is a table open. Behind the imposing wooden door, black walls and cushy booths combine with tasteful chandeliers to create the luxuriously somber mood, while an extensive wine list and menu of small savory dishes add to the charm of this intimate place. And although the high-end prices might betray its speakeasy atmosphere, Death & Co.’s unique creative cocktails and languid mood make it a perfect venue to celebrate life’s simple pleasures with a few close friends.
A red light glowing inside the Stone Street Coffee Company found in 132 9th Ave (between 18th St & 19th St) may provide a clue that there is more than just coffee inside this tiny storefront. Hidden behind the wall of the coffee, you enter into the world of the 1920s prohibition era – Bathtub Gin NYC. Embodying the heart and soul of speakeasy, with bartenders dressed in old fashioned attire, this amazing bar truly makes the rush of drinking in secret. Make sure to try one of the wide assortment f exceptional cocktails, like the Clover Club (gin (50%), dry vermouth, lemon juice, egg white, raspberry liqueur, and fresh raspberries), or the bar’s delicious bar food, including the crab-stuffed mushrooms and ricotta gnocchi. With Jazz, played early, which gives way to hip-hop and dance music and even more, it’s easy to chill with friends and have a memorable party. Do not forget to bring your dancing shoes.
No matter where you’ll plan to go, these fantastic secret bars in NYC promise a unique night-out that will long last in your memories.