Lets be honest, speakeasies is just a fancy term for bars that have quality mixologists who can create exquisite craft cocktails, and throw in a mystery element by hiding the bar behind a coffee shop or a hot dog stand, you have a well-hyped up bar that everyone couldn’t wait to go. I for one, am the first in line.
And, thank me later, I have done the due diligence of checking out each place, sometimes more than once just to be sure, so that you can enjoy the fruits of my labor.
25 NYC Speakeasies, we stand by
Making the news recently
- Pouring Ribbons – I love the signage at the door, it blends in seamlessly among the shops on the same road. If you didn’t notice the doorman, you would totally take it for a garment store or something.
- The Wayland – I love the grungy vibe, live music, that keeps some of the parts of the old dive bar that used to be there. The bar has a tiny kitchen and you feel like being in a friend’s kitchen, a friend who knows how to pair good food and cocktails. Oysters and Mezcal, anyone? “Instead of pouring the San Fran Spout from a keg, Wayland co-owner Jason Mendenhall uses a soda gun to serve Fernet Branca — the bitter Italian digestif that’s a bartender cult favorite — and cola he makes himself.” – NY Post.
- The Third Man – Another Alphabet City bar that’s joining the list. Pretty decor, could get quite boisterous and loud, loosing the speakeasy vibe totally, but if you are here for the drinks it wont disappoint!
- Attaboy – Opened by the two alumni of Milk & Honey, in its old location. The cocktail waiters ask you what you feel like and they go on, do their magic. Atleast you don’t have to waste your time reading a book full of unknown names.
- Fig. 19 – Hidden behind an art gallery, hence the name, is a fine bar that makes booze go down smooth with their crafty mixes and shakings.
Still going strong and are popular:
- Bathtub Gin – One of my favorite places, Bathtub Gin is a Gin connoisseurs hideout, literally as well hidden behind Stone Street Coffee. Named after the age old tradition of making ‘bathtub gin’ to make it consumable and less alcoholic. The bartenders are super friendly and there is a free standing bathtub in the middle of the bar that is Instagram worthy!
- Experimental Cocktail Club – Most inventive presentation of each cocktail goes to ECC. One of my other favorites in the LES, I am a big fan of their cocktails that come in pharmacy bottles and soda bottles with festive straws.
- Dead Rabbit – If you have out of towners and you want to impress them, take ’em here, and as they say it in their own words, “The Dead Rabbit is dedicated to advancing the art and practice of hospitality, as it was understood then and as it is understood now, for all residents of and visitors to this great metropolis.” Three floors, each with a different vibe, the parlor level is the most popular with a pianist strutting his stuff until 1 am and drinks come in many shapes and sizes. A warm cocktail is served as an amuse bouche and the wild drinking Irish style can begin with their punches ideal for a group. No small task to win “World’s Best New Cocktail Bar in 2013”.
- Booker and Dax – What can’t David Chang do? might be the question with his recent cocktail bar that sits adjacent to one of the Momofuku outpost in East Village. Partnering with Dave Arnold, who was behind the Food + Drink Museum in NYC few years ago, B & D is a serious place for seriously delicious drinks. Great detour after hogging down Pork Buns at Momofuku Ssam.
- Amor y Amargo – If you love Bitters and the art of making them, go here. Drinks here are not shaken and are only stirred.
- Cienfuegos – The most adorable Cuban bar, you will ever go to. Color washed walls, vintage trimmings, waitress in colorful aprons, and religious paraphernalia adorn the rooms. Best for Punches and groups!
- Apotheke – A fun bar with a pharmacy-theme. You can watch bartenders in their lab coats making drinks, that are called ‘Prescriptions’. Located in a narrow alley in Chinatown, right next to one of my favorite restaurants Pulqueria (where you can taste Pulques, a mexican spirit).
- Elsa has been around for a while and for a good reason. Cozy and laid-back, yet stylish and dapper at the same time. “This stylish saloon hosts a bespoke tailor in its anteroom two days a week—not surprising for a bar named after 20th-century fashion priestess Elsa Schiaparelli. – Time Out “
- Evelyn Drinkery – A three person team behind this drinkery, a sexy bar with candlelights and velvet around. The owners themselves are behind the counter mixing drinks. Alphabet City is surely becoming a cocktail destination with a slew of these quality places.
- Mayahuel – Very attractive Mexican bar – specializes in spirits from the south, best for Agave, Mezcals and Tequila. You can also nosh while you gulp – and their Tres Leches is still one of the best in the city!
- Gin Palace – Gin & Tonic on Tap! ‘nuf said. You will miss this bar totally if you didn’t know it existed. The place can get pretty loud and club-y during the weekends. Great to go with friends.
- Bourgeois Pig – You are now starting to realize that I have mentioned almost all of Ravi Rossi’s bars in the East Village – and Bourgeois Pig is his latest venture. A French Champagne bar that is a great date night spot to sip your bubbly and it’s happily-ever-after!
And then there are the forerunners:
- PDT – Definitely the most popular with the telephone booth for an entrance. No prize for guessing – their Drinks are top notch and so is their food.
- Death & Co – “In 1919, it was thought that to drink alcohol was to live a life shadowed by death” – the bar well plays the theme right from their name. Arrive early on a weekday, you will have no trouble getting in.
- The Back Room – Back to the old world-charm, you are sure to be transported to a different era. Walk in a dark narrow alley to get to the entrance (which is certainly half the fun), the bar is designed to be reminiscent of a 1920’s bar where the beer is served in a brown paper bag and drinks are served in tea cups.
- Raines Law Room – Their cocktails never ever disappoint, THE place to go if you are in Flatiron district.
- Angels Share – A Japanese Cocktail room, that’s hidden inside the restaurant, Village Yokocho. They won’t allow guests more than 4, the place is intimate and each of the drinks have a lot of dimension. How about a taste of Smoked Thyme Leaves in your ‘tail?
- Milk and Honey is a classic. They have moved locations, their old joint is still alive under a different name, Attaboy, but everything else is exactly the same in their new Flatiron location. Often mistaken by their membership mentions on their site, you don’t need a membership to enjoy a drink here.
- Little Branch – The unmarked door, graffiti’d walls and quiet corner in the West Village marks the beginnings of this fantastic cocktail bar that’s hidden in the basement. The decor is dressed down, keeping the focus on what they do best – the mixings!
- Employees Only – Classic bar for classic cocktails, you can often spot NYC Chefs here drinking with buddies after a hard day’s of work.
Nothing a fine cocktail can’t save!