New York's Best Speakeasies: Where To Find Them & How To Get In (Manhattan Edition)
noun (plural speakeasies) informal (in the US during Prohibition) an illicit liquor shop or drinking club.
In a city as electrifying as New York, there's no shortage of exciting things to do and see. Even as someone who spends months at a time in the city each year, I still often feel like I've barely scratched the surface. There's no telling how many hidden gems or well-kept secrets lie scattered across the city, and I find this is especially true of restaurants and bars. These are my favourites of New York's speakeasies - you'll find they're all downtown, as I spend the majority of my time downtown, but you'll also find they're all excellent spots for a cocktail or bite. Enjoy!
134 Elridge Street
Probably one of the most talked-about speakeasies in New York City, Attaboy is a cocktail-lover's dream. With no menu, the bar's main attraction is the superstar bartenders, who will create a cocktail according to each patron's tastes.
How To Get In: An unmarked steel door sits back from the sidewalk on a quiet stretch of Eldridge Street; so quiet in fact that it seems bizarre that one of New York's best bars is hidden inside. First knock, and if that fails, resort to the buzzer. Tip: Arrive before 9 p.m. to get a seat.
The Back Room
102 Norfolk Street
One of the few remaining true speakeasies from the 1920's, the illustrious Back Room hides behind the faux façade of a toy store. Cocktails are served into teacups, and bottled beers come in brown paper bags, while a trick bookcase leads to the real “back room,” a private VIP room.
How To Get In: Take the stairs down from the gate marked “Lower East Side Toy Company”, make your way through the back alley, then take the stairs to the entrance.
Please Don't Tell
113 St. Mark’s Place, East Village
Known for their creative cocktails and assortment of taxidermy animals displayed across each wall, PDT is an East Village institution. Hidden behind a nondescript phone booth inside Crif Dogs (New York's best late-night hot dog joint), the bar is almost always packed, and for good reason too. You'll 100% need to book ahead.
How To Get In: Step inside the wooden phone booth tucked inside Crif Dogs and simply dial “1” once to speak with the host hidden behind the back wall of the booth.
Beauty & Essex
146 Essex Street
If you're after a genuine taste of prohibition-era New York glamour, Beauty & Essex is the spot for you. Concealed behind a functioning pawn shop, this bi-level restaurant & bar could easily be considered one of New York's most beautiful restaurants. Featuring a two-story chandelier, a peacock themed dining room and guided ceilings throughout, the space in itself is a reason to visit. Did I mention there's free-flowing pink champagne in the ladies room?
How To Get In: Unlike most of the other speakeasies in this list, Beauty & Essex is extremely easy to find. The conspicuous flashing sign out front is a dead giveaway that you're in the right place; simply join the line of people and wait to be seated.
67 Clinton Street
Tucked away behind a an old bank vault door on the second floor above The Burgary sits Garfunkel's; a guilded-roofed sanctuary where the bartenders will make unique cocktails depending on your spirit and flavour preferences.
How To Get In: While reservations are not essential, they certainly make entry to the bar easier, as those with reservations are given a personal code which they can punch into the “bank vault” door in the back of the Burgary. No reservation? Hang out the back of the Burgary and staff will let you through.
P.S. By day, the bar transforms into Janam Tea, where patrons can enjoy a full high tea service.
The Garret West
296 Bleecker Street
New Yorkers seem to have a penchant for hiding bars above burger joints. In the lofty second floor above the Bleecker Street Five Guys sits the laid back Garret West (sister bar to the Garret East mentioned in our Top 5 East Village Happy Hour Spots). A great spot for people-watching out the windows into the West Village below.
How To Get In: Walk into the Five Guys burger shop on Bleecker, go all the way to the back past all the tables, and you'll find a dimly lit staircase. The Garret West awaits you at the top.
9 Doyers St.
As its name suggests, Apotheke is an apothecary-themed cocktail bar, opened inside a former opium den. With a list of over 250 speciality cocktails, this Chinatown hotspot is definitely worth a visit when heading south of Houston.
How To Get In: In the corner of quiet Doyers Street in Chinatown, you'll see a red sign that reads "Gold Flower Restaurant". Don't worry, you're in the right place. The door through this faux facade is where you'll find Apotheke.
Stay tuned for the Brooklyn Edition of our top NYC Speakeasies!
In the meantime, we'd love to hear about your favourite New York speakeasies and bars in the comments below!