The 7 Best Hidden Bars In New York City
These secret speakeasies are worth the extra effort to find.
Blame the 1920s fashion revival. Blame Boardwalk Empire. Blame that episode of Broad City where Abbi reveals her alter-ego ‘Val’, a Prohibition-era-style entertainer in a speakeasy in the East Village. Hell, blame ‘hipsters,’ blame whoever you like – but speakeasies are back with a vengeance and, without a doubt, are here to stay. This is true perhaps nowhere more so than in New York City, where the resurgence of hidden bars over the past decade or so arguably originated.
Often with a focus on quality cocktails and with hard-to-find locations, NYC’s top speakeasy-style bars are some of the best in the world. Check out our top picks below.
#1 PDT (Please Don’t Tell)
Where: 113 St Marks Place, East Village
Arguably one of NYC’s most famous bars, PDT still gets to wear the ‘secret’ tag because of its hard-to-find nature (guests must enter by picking up the phone in a phone booth located within late-night hotdog joint Crif Dogs).
With its low ceilings and no-standing policy, PDT is a great spot for drinking inventive cocktails in a unique setting – plus you can get food delivered to your table from Crif Dogs (who doesn’t want tater tots after a few drinks?). Just be sure to make a reservation – it’s advised to call right when the bar opens, at 3pm, if you want to secure your spot.
#2 Blind Barber
Where: 339 E 10th Street, East Village
If you’re sensitive to ‘hipster’ concepts, Blind Barber – a barber shop in Alphabet City complete with a lively bar hidden out back – won’t be for you. But if you’re a fan of great cocktails and even better haircuts, look no further than here. A visit in the early evening sees a cocktail lounge setting conducive to a quiet catch-up with friends, but later in the night (and especially on weekends) the hip hop soundtrack renders Blind Barber a bustling night-spot and a great place to go dancing and get a bit silly.
#3 67 Orange Street
Where: 2082 Frederick Douglass Boulevard, Harlem
Taking its cues from the underground nightlife of 19th-century Five Points (specifically Almack’s Dance Hall, one of the first African-American-owned businesses in New York, once situated at the address this bar borrows its name from), 67 Orange Street pays homage to the vibrant spirit of its predecessors. Behind the thick curtains adorning its windows, this Harlem favourite serves up both classic and cutting-edge cocktails next to a menu of appropriately hearty food. We recommend the Hayman’s Tea (Earl Grey-infused Old Tom Gin complete with honey syrup, lemon juice and St. Germain) and the lobster mac and cheese.
#4 Little Branch
Where: 20 7th Avenue S, West Village
There’s to be no loud talking or misbehaving at Little Branch – yet another venture of legendary mixologist and bar owner Sasha Petraske (of Milk & Honey fame) – but that doesn’t mean it’s no fun. A basement bar located behind an unmarked metal door in the West Village, Little Branch embodies many of the traits of the traditional speakeasy – from its clandestine entry to the standup piano that often gets used between Sundays and Thursdays when live music (usually jazz or jazz-related) takes over. Not sure what you feel like drinking? No problem. The suspenders-clad bartenders will dream up a personalised cocktail based on your preferred ingredients. Hot tip: Little Branch is cash-only, so don’t forget to visit the ATM before stopping by.
Where: 135 Graham Avenue, Williamsburg
A more relaxed speakeasy than some of its Manhattan counterparts, this neighbourhood favourite serves up nicely priced cocktails in an elegant yet inviting setting. An extension of its neighbour Sweet Science, Featherweight is small in size but that doesn’t stop it from packing a punch (sorry-not-sorry for the pun), with its brick-and-wood interior complete with cosy booths. The star of the show at Featherweight, though, is its menu – lovingly executed by bartenders who truly know their stuff. Try the ‘Home of the Brave’ – bonded apple brandy and homemade ginger syrup with fresh lime juice, orange juice and allspice dram. Great for dates – but remember to bring cash, as they don’t accept cards.
#6 B Flat
Where: 277 Church Street, TriBeCa
True to its name, B Flat serves up its cocktails with a side of live jazz performances twice a week. But it’s so much more than a jazz bar: B Flat is much-loved for its Happy Hour (5–7pm Monday through Saturday) and its Japanese-tinged food menu, which offers small bites like deep-fried tofu and edamame alongside more substantial items such as the Teriyaki Beef Burger and the Cha-Shu Burger (bourbon-soy braised pork with daikon radish), plus Mochi ice-cream for dessert. The cocktail list is abundant, with a mix of classic cocktails and special concoctions (try the ‘Moment’s Notice’ – Junmai sake with peach liqueur, plum wine and topped with yamamomo), but what really makes B Flat a cut above the rest is the standout service from its incredibly welcoming staff.
#7 SRO (Single Room Occupancy)
Where: 334B Bowery (enter through Gia Trattoria), NoHo
If craft cocktails and waistcoated bartenders aren’t your thing but you’re still looking for a speakeasy-style night spot (and if you love pizza) – look no further than SRO. Hidden within newly opened Italian restaurant Gia Trattoria (formerly Espoleta), SRO is the brainchild of Giulio Adriani, a pizza chef renowned for the Naples-style fried pizza he once served up at Brooklyn institution Forcella. Now that same style of pizza can be found within the walls of SRO, which seats a modest 24 people and has a menu that changes daily. For $38, guests can enjoy a three-course menu with a glass of wine (additional pizzas are $10 and desserts are available too). Book online before going in and don’t wear your winter best – it gets pretty toasty at this homestyle joint.
(Lead Image: Blind Barber)