Last Updated on November 28, 2016
Although the best cocktail bars in New York City are widely publicized and highly frequented, there are others that are kept under wraps – way under. Hidden bars, or Speakeasies, are increasing in popularity throughout NYC, giving people an exclusive thrill and throwback to Prohibition. But of course no good secret remains a secret, right? So here is a list of some of the best kept “secret” hidden bars in NYC.
Top Secret is Trending
Ever since we saw Leonardo DiCaprio on screen as the dashing Jay Gatsby, everyone has been clamoring to experience the Roaring 20’s, and this includes Speakeasies. This is not only an NYC phenomenon, there is a slew of hidden bars in other prominent American cities, like Chicago, and an increasing interest throughout Asia as well, where Speakeasies can be found in Shanghai and Tokyo, among others.
So how are these bars becoming known about if they are so secret? Well through the wonderful modern day word-of-mouth: social media networks.
Three Classes of NYC Speakeasies
These Speakeasies are about as private as it gets. They don’t even have a website and yet they are still receiving quite a buzz. People are reviewing these locations on Yelp and mentioning them across social networks, including blogs and online newspapers. They are somehow intelligently gaining all the benefits of social media marketing without actually making themselves officially present online. It is a bit of a wonder, and yet it is exactly this secrecy that is making them so appealing and a thing to be talked about.
- Attaboy – so under wraps that they don’t even have a menu, just tell the bartender what your poison is and they will create a completely original custom-made mix for you. To find the bar, look for the window with the neon “A” on Eldridge Street, Lower East Side.
- B Flat – wander down Church Street, Tribeca, and look for the black door marked with 277. Head down the stairs and be greeted by the live jazz performances that make this Speakeasy feel like it’s really from the 1920’s.
These semi-private locations do have websites for the bars, usually including some kind of contact info – phone number or email address – through which you can make reservations, and may or may not disclose the address of the establishment. But no more than that do they divulge.
- Fig 19 – hidden behind the Loge Gallery, on Chrystie Street, Lower East Side. The entrance isn’t glamorous, but once inside, glittering chandeliers make you realize that this is a secret treasure.
- PDT – an acronym for Please Don’t Tell, located at St. Marks Place, East Village – accessible through the vintage telephone booth in the Crif Dogs restaurant. Simply ring the buzzer and a hostess will open the phone booth and usher you inside.
Online, but oozing Speakeasy class
And of course some of these Speakeasies are fully equipped with a website and all of the necessary social media accounts, but are still dedicated to giving that Speakeasy experience. And since their entrances are hidden, they still qualify as a “hidden bar,” even if their location is publicized. Furthermore, it still requires people to stumble upon them – whether in the street or online – so they are still not widely known about.
- The Back Room – located on Norfolk Street, Lower East Side, this is an original Speakeasy from American Prohibition. It therefore has a historical right, as well as a good atmosphere, to be included on this list. Patrons can visit the bar through the same hidden entrance behind the bookcase that was used by patrons over 85 years ago. Look for Lower East Side Toy Company to find the spot, enter through the gate and head down the flight of steps.
- Raines Law Room – look for the unmarked stairwell on West 17th Street, and head down and ring the bell. You will be escorted into a cozy room with couches and hear music from the 1920’s lightly playing in the background. Need a refill? Pull the lamp string to turn on your table light and a waiter will come straight over.
- Beauty and Essex – head through the fully-functional modern day pawn shop front entrance and head towards the back to the circular staircase. Head up towards the bar for a Rat Pack kind of evening.