Looking for a throwback night in the Big Apple? We’ve partnered with NYC travel blogger Sher She Goes to discover New York City’s best speakeasy bars. Shh – don’t let the secret out!
Whether we’re celebrating bygone golden ages, hunting for that hot new venue, or simply seeking experiences that justify Manhattan’s exorbitant prices, speakeasy bars have been among New Yorkers’ preferred nightlife destinations for over a decade. Whether they involve beautiful brownstones, pawn shops, or even subway stations, New York’s speakeasies are a fantastic way to impress your friends and have a memorable night out. Keep reading for the 9 best hidden speakeasies in NYC!
1. Raines Law Room
48 West 17th Street (at Sixth Avenue)
What Raines Law Room lacks in a memorable entrance (simply walk down the steps and press a buzzer) it more than makes up for in style. Adorned with exposed brick, molded ceilings, and plenty of plush couches and chairs, Raines Law Room offers an ornate environment for you to enjoy timeless American cocktails (think Old Fashioned, Martinez, Boulevardier) prepared out-of-sight in a hidden bar room. Note that Raines, which prides itself on maintaining an intimate setting, only takes reservations Sunday through Tuesday and is otherwise first come, first served. Raines Law Room also offers cocktail classes which are great for larger groups and feature light food, two cocktails, and instruction from a master bartender!
2. Lovers of Today
132 ½ East 7th Street (at Avenue A)
Located down an easy-to-miss flight of stairs and an even more nondescript door to your right, Lovers of Today, which seats no more than 15 patrons comfortably, is among the most intimate bars in NYC. This East Village local favorite is a true mixologist’s bar, with a cocktail menu featuring entirely in-house crafted liquor and far-ranging ingredients such as Yuzu peppers, lavender honey, and house-made tamarind chipotle grenadine. Cocktails are already affordable at $12, and the best part of Lovers of Today is a very generous happy hour featuring half-off specialty cocktails every day from 5 to 8!
3. Beauty & Essex
146 Essex Street (at Stanton Street)
Co-founded by celebrity chef Chris Santos (for all the Chopped fans!), Beauty & Essex patrons enter through an active pawn shop that sells everything from classic guitars to vintage jewelry. From there, you’ll enter one of the Lower East Side’s hottest restaurants with a menu highlighted by tomato tartare with quail egg, tuna poke wonton tacos, and – these are absolutely to die for – grilled cheese, smoked bacon, and tomato soup dumplings. Though more popular for meals, the Beauty & Essex bar is worth a trip on its own merit and features 16 cocktails separated by their sweet, savory, or barrel-aged flavor profiles!
4. Bar Centrale
324 West 46th Street (at Eighth Avenue)
If you’ve ever enjoyed a Broadway show, there’s a decent chance you’ve walked past this hot spot without even knowing it. Bar Centrale is located in an beautiful but nondescript converted brownstone apartment. Once you walk up the Victorian staircase and past several unmarked doors, you’ll be in the thick of one of Manhattan’s most sought-after bars with a menu featuring classic cocktails and delicious American fare. Reservation are highly encouraged (even for seats at the bar), as another great thing about Bar Centrale is its status as a preferred destination after Broadway musicals – for the stars of the shows themselves!
5. The Back Room
102 Norfolk Street (at Delancey Street)
A list featuring the best hidden speakeasies in NYC may as well feature a bar that was, well, an actual speakeasy during Prohibition, right? That’s what guests will enjoy when they walk through the doors of the “Lower East Side Toy Company”, descend a flight of stairs, and head through the same hidden door used nearly 100 years ago during Prohibition! The Back Room is a speakeasy noted for its sweeping rugs, authentic wooden furniture, working fireplaces, and, of course, beer served in paper bags and cocktails served in teacups! Make sure to visit on the earlier side, however, as the bouncers are known to be as discerning as the lines are long.
6. Bathtub Gin
132 Ninth Avenue (at 18th Street)
Head to Chelsea for Bathtub Gin, one of my personal favorites that operates as Stone Street Coffee Company by day and a spectacular gin-focused speakeasy by night. Bathtub Gin employs a brilliant design with intimate booths and two-tops lining the walls with an open center section that’s perfect for larger parties. The crowd here tends to lean young and rambunctious, making Bathtub Gin the perfect spot for a birthday party, bachelor or bachelorette party, or, frankly, any kind of party! As its name suggests, Bathtub Gin features 15 bespoke gin cocktails including four gin and tonics and two gin martinis (cocktails featuring other spirits are available as well). As its name also suggests, Bathtub Gin features a gorgeous free-standing bathtub as the bar’s centerpiece (gin not included, sadly!).
7. Manhattan Cricket Club
226 West 79th Street (at Broadway)
If you’ve ever wanted your cocktails to feature daring ingredients such as red pepper puree, honeybush, rosemary bitters, or strawberry-and-hibiscus-infused gin, Manhattan Cricket Club is the nightlife destination for you. Located on the Upper West Side, Manhattan Cricket Club is accessible by entering Burke & Wills (an Australian restaurant serving kangaroo burgers among other fare – certainly worth a visit itself!) and ascending through the staircase at the back. The Cricket Club likes to view itself among the more sophisticated speakeasies in New York (and with good reason, based on the décor and cocktail selection), so just make sure you come dressed to impressed to give you the best chance of seeing for yourself!
503 Columbus Avenue (at 84th Street)
Though not a speakeasy by any definition, I couldn’t very well not include one of Manhattan’s best bars named for the era that spawned this very list, could I? Located just five minutes from the Manhattan Cricket Club on the Upper West Side, Prohibition is a lovely bar and restaurant with a cocktail menu featuring Prohibition-era classics (Old Fashioned, Negroni, Manhattan), five types of mojitos and caipirinhas, and a lovely frozen drink called “Frosé” which is, well, exactly what it sounds like! Prohibition also offers a delicious food menu, warm staff, and nightly live music (that’s actually good!).
9. Campbell Apartment
15 Vanderbilt Avenue (at 42nd Street)
Most visitors to New York will pass through Grand Central Terminal at least once, offering a perfect excuse to visit Campbell Apartment, one of New York’s most beloved speakeasies located literally inside Grand Central Station. Once the private office and reception area of Roaring Twenties tycoon John W. Campbell, the present-day Campbell Apartment highlights many features of the original space including hand-painted ceilings, stone fireplaces, and Campbell’s personal steel safe. The Campbell Apartment offers lunch, bar food, and a delectable cocktail menu – you know you’re in the right place when “Old Fashioneds” is its own section of the menu!
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