The speakeasy trend that’s taken over the global cocktail scene began in New York, so there’s no wonder that the city does clandestine drinking better than anyone else. If you like your cocktails served up with secret passwords, 1920s-era décor and undercover entryways, you’ll be in Prohibition heaven at these eight discreet venues.
Opened in the Lower East Side in 2000, Milk & Honey is widely credited as being the progenitor of the speakeasy trend. The members club was famous for having an unpublished phone number and being nearly impossible to get into. Now occupying new digs in the Flatiron district, it’s a touch more accessible but no less accomplished.
This petite, dark wood-lined boite in the East Village follows the speakeasy theme, with its ’20s vibe and easy-to-miss entrance, though the style here never veers into kitsch. The extensive menu is organized by spirit, but the bartenders are just as happy to whip up something custom.
Named after a Prohibition law dating from 1896 that banned the sale of alcohol on Sundays, the Raines Law Room celebrates this controversial period with the best of Golden Age-inspired cocktails. Expect a sumptuous drinking den.
Located in a small loft-like space above an Asian restaurant in buzzing St. Marks Place, Angel’s Share is a Japanese-inflected speakeasy. Within its sultry confines, highly trained bartenders practice their special brand of mixology.
Occupying what looks like a dark warehouse in a dreary part of Long Island City, Queens, Dutch Kills is the very picture of discretion. Inside, its shadowed interior and individual booths lend themselves to a sultry environment, and winning drinks like the warm Bear Trap make it even cozier.
Its name stands for “Please Don’t Tell,” and its entrance is one of the more storied in the speakeasy genre: Guests have to walk into neighboring hot dog joint Crif Dogs, step into a phone booth and make a call. Once inside, they’ll find a bevy of drinks made by cocktail veteran Jim Meehan and his team.
Consider Pouring Ribbons a neo-speakeasy. There are no suspenders-wearing bartenders, and little attention is paid to conjuring an authentically Prohibition atmosphere. Getting past the formidable bouncer proves its own challenge, but once you’re in, cocktails like the Infinite Jest blend classic techniques with off-kilter ingredients.
Its pressed tin ceilings, leather furnishings and live jazz give this joint the look and feel of an early 20th century cocktail den, but Clover Club’s drinks list, led by master mixologist Julie Reiner, spans from pre-Prohibition right up to modern times.
Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to…whose New York guide covers all the best hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, sights, shops and spas in the city