We know what you’re wondering; why would New York City need any hidden bars? The city is known for its nightlife and its late-night parties; surely they don’t need to hide their drinks? Well, the history of speakeasy bars goes back to the beginning of the 20th century.
A speakeasy, also known as a blind tiger or blind pig, is an illegal establishment that sells alcohol. Well, back in the Prohibition era during 1920-1933, the buying, selling, and bootlegging of alcohol was prohibited in the United States. It was around then that secret bars erupted throughout the city to support the lifestyles of Americans.
Today, the term speakeasy refers to any of the retro style bars in unlikely places. Here are some you can look out for!
The Blind Barber
This bar can be found behind an old-school barbershop, which serves as a secret entrance to this special East Village establishment. In fact, this bar has two more iterations in Chelsea and in Times Square. If you would like a signature haircut as well, arrive before 8pm when the barbershop closes (6pm on Mondays).
To get to the Blind Barber, you have to step behind the sliding door at the back. You will find here everything from ample bar space to a dance floor! Plus, there is a vast variety of pizza and drink options. Try the Batman while you’re there: a mix of gin with cava, St. Germain, and a splash of mint.
The 18th Room
On Ninth Avenue, you will find a faux coffee supply store that conceals this gem of a bar named after the 18th Amendment—this would be the one that banned alcohol in the 1920s. Located in Chelsea, this bar sports a Gatsby-like art deco design; there is everything from velvet booths to golden accents—sleek and shiny!
At the marble bar, you can ask for anything depending on your mood; in fact, request a custom-made drink by choosing a flavor and your spirit preference. If you would rather have something from there elaborate drinks menu, you can have the house-made salted hazelnut, or the Pharmaceutical Stimulant made with rum. Whatever you choose, you wouldn’t be disappointed.
Fig.19 is a beautiful white-walled art gallery upfront, but that is just a façade. Although the gallery itself is unremarkable, the back door leads to a low-light cocktail bar and lounge. The cocktail menu tips its hat to the Prohibition by serving several rye and gin-based drinks, for instance, the vanilla and cinnamon-flavored Vanishing Point with lemon and egg-whites.
Turn your evening into a sophisticated event by discussing the art you saw on your way in while sipping on a delicious white wine.
Behind the casual Mediterranean style restaurant called Local92 is a concealed storage room. Well, at least it used to be a storage room! Now, the space is home to a cocktail bar named the Blue Quarter. The best part: the door that leads to it is cobalt blue.
The team behind Amor y Amargo developed this cozy space for lovers of bitters-based drinks. This East Village establishment has a Mediterranean and Moroccan style, where the menu includes tea and interestingly-named drinks. Not My Presidenté (with rum and mint tea) and the Unfinished Story (a tequila and matcha concoction) are Blue Quarter specials.
In the popular NYC neighborhood SoHo, you will find a diner-style taqueria. Grab a stool and order some tacos at this gem with Mexican roots. Once you’ve managed to get a reservation, the host will lead you past the upper story and the kitchen to a dimly lit bar. At La Esquina, a killer margarita is always in order. Make sure you visit!
If you are expecting to go here during office hours, you will find a regular neighborhood coffee shop. After 5 pm, this café turns into an entrance towards a simple back door locked with a code. If you get it right, a cocktail lounge awaits!
The interesting thing about the bar is that it is built in the Radio Wave Building’s basement, hence the names of the drinks: Energy, Vibration, Frequency, etc.
If you too are looking for a cozy secret bar that you can talk to your friends about back home, try one of these lounges at our recommendation! You might just have the time of your life.
At Brooklyn heights, there is a fancy bistro that goes by the name Chez Moi. This elegant dining spot is an ideal cover for Le Boudoir, a romantic 19th century-style bar. You will have to step behind a secret bookcase if you want to access this well-hidden spot. But once you enter, expect to find plenty of bronze sculptures and crystal decoration pieces inspired by Marie Antoinette’s private chambers.
Here, you should try something bubbly with their signature snacks!