The speakeasy conjures up scenarios of dark alleys and discrete doors with secret passwords and tuxedoed doormen with misshapen noses. The stuff of history books and old movies, perhaps. But leave it to New York City to keep the speakeasy mystique and exclusivity alive. Make no mistake—not everyone will get to sample some of the city’s best cocktails in these venues. Getting to and gaining entrance into these hideouts requires some savvy and persistence (connections help), but is well worth the effort.
Milk and Honey, 134 Eldridge Street, Lower East Side. You’ll miss it if you blink. It’s the battered steel door next to a storefront with a suit hanging in the window and a sign that reads, “M&H, Tailors.” Celeb cocktail artist Sasha Petraske runs the show, offering invention and nuance. The place to go for a radical cocktail experience. Be warned: you must call ahead to reserve a table, but the number can be hard to find. Now and then the owner publishes it on the web. Otherwise tracking it down may be adventurous.
Little Branch, 20 Seventh Avenue S. Another metal door, this one rusted, with no giveaway but a bouncer outside. Yes, it’s another joint by Sasha Petraske. The bartenders are wizards, concocting elixirs and bewitching potions. Almost. Don’t know what you want? Ask for one of the specials, sure to make the eyes glassy for more. Access is almost as difficult as its sister bar, but persistence pays off.
The Raines Law Room, 48 West 17th Street. To get in here, find an unmarked stairwell, ring the doorbell at the bottom, and hold your breath. Each table inside the bar is outfitted with a button used to summon the server. Reservations accepted only Sunday to Tuesday. To make a reservation, email the ETA, number of people and a contact phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, first come first served.
Please Don’t Tell (PDT), 113 St. Marks Place. Walk down a set of stairs into the Crif Dogs restaurant on St. Marks Place. Look for an old-timey phone booth. Step inside, pick up the phone and press the buzzer. A voice answers and, after approval, the phone booth wall opens into a cubbyhole centered by a bar. Enjoy fine cocktails and food from Crif’s kitchen. Reservations recommended. Call at 3 p.m. 212-614-0386.
Employees Only, 510 Hudson Street. Look for a red neon sign shilling a psychic and then for the live tarot card reader. A bouncer guards the entrance. He’ll lead you through a curtain, into the bar. Bartenders in white chef’s jackets also serve terrific food. The tarot card reader at the door does live readings. On weekends seating in the bar is tight. Show up early to ensure a table.
Death & Co, 433 East Sixth Street. A boarded up storefront, the name Death & Co. printed in metal on the sidewalk in front of the bar’s entrance. Inviting or what? Give your number to the bouncer at the door and he’ll call you when it’s time. Death waits for no one. And FYI: at Death & Co. to ensure perfection, each specialty drink is stirred 40 times and taste-tested by the bartender.
We Recommend You Stay at,
Hotel Gansevoort is widely credited with transforming the Meatpacking District from gritty to fabulous, and you’ll find it a short walk away to these secret bars. This chic and trendy 4 star boutique property reigns as one of Manhattan’s hottest hotels. Whether to dine at Tanuki Tavern, swim in the Plunge rooftop pool, or spend a blissful day shopping the cobblestoned streets of the Meatpacking District, guests continue to flock to Gansevoort New York. Enjoy complimentary upgrades on us, waived extra adult fees, and special amenities for suite reservations.
Located on Spring at Varick, the Trump SoHo is in the heart of the neighborhood. Visitors can wander the maze of streets and shop to their heart’s content. Towering over the SoHo neighborhood, this hotel is also close to many of the secret bars listed above. Enjoy a refreshing plunge on the 6,000 square foot landscaped pool deck on the seventh floor or decadent Italian cuisine at The Restaurant.
Eventi New York opened in May of 2010; since then, this new addition to the North Chelsea neighborhood is re-defining the modern-day luxury hotel. This 4.5 star Kimpton Hotel has all the features one would expect; soothing spa, fabulous fitness center, bustling bar, and a complimentary wine reception every evening!