There’s something about sipping into a good cocktail in a place that’s as attractive as a speakeasy bar. A little prohibition-style intriguing secrecy as you head down into a darkened alley is quite exciting. It’s both fun and intimidating to get into a speakeasy bar where you can not only grab some booze but explore the many underground gem hideouts behind unmarked doors.
Relieve those times when selling alcohol was illegal and such operations would be kept discreet. Speakeasy bars are now fast becoming the most popular drinking places where you can access secret bookshelves guarded using passwords and other such quirky finds. These bars are now at par with others as they craft their breweries with the passion for coffee beans. Check out some of the most popular speakeasy bars in the U.S.
Sunshine Laundromat & Pinball
Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn
photo by Dylan Thuras
Notice a typical urban scene on the Eastern Seaboard with shops along the sidewalk, apartments, cars, and more? At number 800, you will find a laundromat known as Sunshine and it holds an amazing secret! Just as you get near this quaint shop, you will hear the clinking of coins and some washers doing their job rigorously. But, did you know the real secret behind the place’s reach to over 2.7 million customers each week? Well, the store hides a speakeasy bar along the row of washers that leads to this hidden door.
This door, away from the usual public eye is unlocked at 2.00pm every day to usher revealers with a big smile! You will discover the good old pinball machines that serves well-created local and traditional beers much to the delight of the guests. Sunshine is the only laundromat in New York City that can serve alcohol legally!
photo by Dylan Thuras
photo by Dylan Thuras
photo by Serena Dai
Chumley’s is iconic and is one of the most notable venues that’s has passed into history and still retains it’s secret! Find yourself getting into a magical world of secret pathways and unmarked doors just like passing through a wardrobe and the village. This favorite speakeasy spot has many patrons setting their foot into the revamped bar that closed its doors to general public nine years ago! The re-instated bar has opened again, and this time it is a luxury drinking place.
Once you find your way inside, it takes some hard work to catch the eyes of the bartenders. This place is now easier to find, and you will be welcomed by the sight of a wall full of dozens of books up the shelves, most of which have been reproduced after the originals got destroyed in 2007.
photo by Christian Rodriguez
This fake Victorian bar secretly cultivating the cocktail culture in the meat-loving district is located behind a coffee shop! In Chelsea, you will find people sneaking into the coffee house and then being smuggled into the prohibition times! The speakeasy cocktail lounge that came about the result of the prohibition courtesy, invisible to the naked eyes, discreetly and quietly welcomes guests from the cappuccino place into the bar.
Even though the frothed coffee and the pastries are for real(!), do not let them fool you. It is the front and lurking behind is the shadowy speakeasy bar. Make your scene through the false wall with a red light. When that’s illuminated, you may enter. Inside there’s a 1920’s setting with nailhead bar stools, copper-colored ceiling, a bathtub that is covered by glass, and a smack-dab. Remember, your party venue can also be a private bar with a bathtub where you can balance your cocktails and fried oysters!
photo by Nick Solares
This little Tokyo in Manhattan seems to defy the speakeasy culture of most of the mixology destinations in the U.S. The unmarked door upstairs a corner spot in village Yokocho is known to only those who you will be happy to share your drinking space with. This isn’t a particularly special room, but what it offers is the experience.
Just head upstairs and turn away from the restaurant to your left. Grab the seats by the window. The wintery times will lure you into the atmosphere as the dim lights give you a Victorian feel.
The bar staff is entirely Japanese. The cocktail served is mostly about Asian ingredients with premium whiskey, mirin, vodka, and a range of Japanese bar snacks. They serve the drinks in ceramics – Mizu Shochu, Flirtibird, and Grassy Shiso – with the glass rim coated with plum salt, which is very delicious. The bar remains open Sunday to Wednesday till 1:30 am and rest till 2:00 am.
The speakeasy that serves deep-fried frankfurters, well isn’t a secret anymore. The sneaky, behavior conscious speakeasy, adjacent to Crif Dogs on St. Marks is the original hot dog stand with a bouncer – the first in America! It’s not unusual to find a 1940s phone booth at this place as it is the entrance for this bar.
Enter the booth, there are cameras installed inside. Pick-up the phone and press the button. Wait for the bartender to check you in. An in-house word of caution: do not hit the women you don’t know!
This 45-seater place has low ceilings and a dim lit interior. They play classic hip-hop, serve gin and cocktail. Order for your food and the fare is sent through a small slot behind the bar.
photo by Sai Mokhtari (Gothamist)
The gorgeous Manhattan bar distinguishes itself for its service to guests. In the speakeasy bar, each table has a buzzer that is connected to the bar. When you press the buzzer, the waiter comes to serve you with handcrafted drinks. There are four rooms that represent four historical eras – Gertrude Steins, Marie Antoinette, Gatsby Room, and Abraham Lincoln.
This place is for drinking and small bites. The bartender creates new classics that gives you the reason to drink slowly and enjoy the ambiance. The door at Irving Place does not have a name. But if you walk up the stairs you will find that behind the doors!
Raines Law Room
photo by Raines Law Room
The game-changing speakeasy bar was founded in 2009 in the New York bar space. This dimly lit bar does not have bar stools; instead, there are plush leather sofas that welcome guests to the lounge space. There are huge floor-to-ceiling curtains that create a prohibitive atmosphere.
When Raines Law Room was founded, there were two things that were in their mind. They were looking into space where people would love to come back for a conversation. It is a great place for those that require a mature environment. In fact, there are many couples have had their first meet-up at this bar.
Just like their idea behind creating this bar, they have also retained the culture of classic drinks and have resisted making more trendy cocktails. This speakeasy bar always wants everyone to feel welcome.
324 W 46th St
photo by Orso restaurant
It is the ‘hidden’ speakeasy bar that is known for its infamous Broadway crowd. Most of the revelers make reservations for this place as it is usually a popular go-to spot for revelers. Located at 46th Street by Joe Allen is this New York gem. When you visit this place, you’ll feel like it’s someone’s apartment you’re walking into. But, stay calm as you’re at the right place.
In fact, having a reservation is so important for the restaurant to be able to accommodate you a table. There are many who have tried and tried to impress the chic hostesses who would greet guests at the door. But alas! Not making a prior booking can result in disappointment especially since the place is on the top of the list for New Yorkers who desire a quaint speakeasy bar where they could spend a quality evening.
It’s not uncommon for a celebrity sighting too! Often revelers at this place have been delighted to come across some popular face sitting across them at another table! Well, persistence pays off and that’s what makes the whole anticipation behind getting a table at the place.
photo by Peachy’s
At Chinatown, you will find a stellar destination as you go downtown from Doyers Street into this Chinese cocktail bar. The vibe at the speakeasy is like a wedding arrangement with flowers that makes the venue look extremely vibrant.
The bar serves cocktails that you can sip from a plastic cold-brew cup or the Buddha’s Belly! This unusual bar is a hidden gem for many who earlier used to unexpectedly discover the place. But, now because of its popularity, it’s not uncommon to find people thronging to the place to party.
This is a cozy, chic, and welcoming getaway as indicated by revelers. People enjoy the pre or post-dinner classic cocktails served here. Our rating – great music, nice décor, and good vibes!
photo by Andrew Zimmer (Thrillist)
Once an impossible find, The Garret is the cocktail bar now open in West Village. Walk into the Bleeker Street Five Guys, go past the tables, the condiment counter, and towards the ordering station. There is a stairway going upstairs.
Upstairs, you will five two massive skylights that welcome you to this quaint place. There are several couches and a number of golden door bolt-like or hourglasses (?) that uplifts the décor of this private party space.
The extensive cocktail and bite menu is very comforting. In fact, you will not find burgers that they make here at any of the other Five Guys. They make the delectable Sriracha, five spice, and mustard seed burger.
The Back Room
Norfolk Street, near Delancey Street
One of the prohibition era speakeasies, The Back Room in New York still upholds the tradition of forbidden drinking at present. As secret bars are popping everywhere, this stands out for its period chandeliers, velvet wallpapers, giant fireplace, and the mirrored counter that serves drinks.
From the moment you enter the room, you will be taken back to the era of the 1920s and 30s. The path down the alley takes into the actual entrance to this prohibition-style bar. In fact, it is scary to walk to this fabric patterned room that has chandeliers, mahogany bar, long velvet couches, and a nice fireplace. There are also vintage antics that are found in this lounge. One final touch to add to the secrecy of this forbidden hide – alcohol gets served in teacups!
Upper East Side
photo by Erik Thomas
Did you know? Look up at the ice-cream cone that illuminates the 88th Street Second Avenue. The bubblegum storefront creates magical flavors from expresso cookies to banana brownie. Not many know that this is a frozen dessert parlor with a hidden speakeasy door having a neon sign that says, “I scream, you scream!”. Side up the service counter and say that you’d like to see the storeroom. “Hand over your ID”, says the employee stationed behind the counter. “If you’re 21 and older, we’ll let you in”.
And there you’ve found it! The door to the secret spot that offers a delightful surprise. This is the neighborhood where you can lounge after work in a prohibition that would serve alcohol – the 1920s way when nose-in-the-air restaurants were not so popular. Defying the lack of good alcohol service bars in the Upper East Side of New York, founder Cortney Bond (who’s a Vegas native) decided to have this cocktail joint with a class – a cool ice-cream store that also doubles up as a discreet bar serving some creative drinks!
Find yourself savoring the delightful Girls Gossip on the East, Next Stop Hunter College, and the unique Tea at the Carlyle. So, be ready for some real action behind the scoop counter! Just follow the sign on the wall.
photo by Daniel Krieger
Perhaps, the only speakeasy that features right across every New York alcohol or forbidden hideout critic is the old and infamous Attaboy! This is the ultimate cocktail bar that’s located on Eldridge Street and hidden in plain sight. This understated beauty is now in the place of the M&H (Milk and Honey). The USP of this spot is that bartenders serve the most solid cocktails of New York, and perhaps the best in the world!
The bartenders actually ask guests what drinks they enjoy. Their cocktails are customized to suit your palette. The atmosphere of this bar is quite comfortable and cozy. To discover this spot in NY, just look for the neon ‘A’ at the window of this bar.
Talk about speakeasy bars, NYC tops the list of some of the most fabulous hidden spots that serve great cocktails. From the oldest PDT and Chumley’s to some of the new UES or The Back Room, there are ample places where you can experience a great time re-visiting the prohibition era. These speakeasies are not just a great hideout to explore custom made drinks, but also discovering one is an experience that you’ll never find at any other drinking place.