Hidden spaces, jazz era cocktails with modern twists, live music—NYC’s storied speakeasies are must-visits. Between the history, the drinks and the secrecy they’re the epitome of city cool. From a hidden bar under a hat shop to a lounge you enter through a vintage phone booth, get in the 1920s vibe while escaping the everyday hustle and bustle at one NYC’s clandestine speakeasies.
Staying true to its name, the bartenders at this Doyers Street lounge dress in lab coats and they’ll whip up a concoction to cure whatever ails you. Known for drinks made with off-the-beaten path ingredients such as absinthe, the mixologists also source fresh herbs produced from their rooftop garden for drinks that change with the season in a chic throwback space. Go. Lumos
Three Chinese characters at the bottom of a staircase underneath a hat shop on Houston Street are the only clues to this bar serving a Chinese liquor whose roots date 5,000 years. Once inside the subterranean and decadent den of Lumos NYC, dramatic lighting, an atmosphere inspired by 1940s film noir and bartenders serving up Baijiu (pronounced bye-joe) greet you. Go. PDT
Say NYC speakeasy and chances are this is the one that comes to mind, but PDT (short for Please Don’t Tell) is worth the hype. Entering the sexy lounge through a vintage phone booth within Crif Dogs adds to the allure no matter how many times you’ve been, and the mixologists serving up a selection of beer, wine and classic cocktails never disappoint. Hungry? Order a hot dog or waffle fries. Go.
The Back Room
Rumor is this speakeasy hidden behind a toy store is the real deal. In the 1920s it was the prohibition speakeasy Lanksy Lounge run by two gangsters. I’m not sure if they were serving cocktails in teacups but the drinks are top notch, the music jazz and the space as glamorous as you would expect at a Gatsby party. Go.
Tucked into a non-descript building, Dutch Kills is reminiscent of Budapest’s Ruins Bars. From the outside you think you’re entering an abandoned building. Inside, however, you’ll find a time lapse of old-school saloon meets modern city. Go.
Once the private office and saloon of tycoon John Williams Campbell, Campbell Apartments is hidden in plain sight. You enter the jazz-age cocktail lounge, after wandering around a bit, from Grand Central Terminal. Order the signature $20 Prohibition Punch (Appleton Rum Estate V/X, Gran Gala, passion fruit juices, cranberry juice and a splash of lemon juice topped off with Moët & Chandon champagne). Go.
Cellar, St. Mazie Bar & Supper Club
The popular Williamsburg bar is worth a visit on its own, but for a throwback experience head down the stairs near the bar to the cellar. This is the city’s other still-in-operation speakeasy. It dates back to the 1880s when it hid gambling, drinking and other “sins.” Legend is the place is haunted, but if you’re not afraid of ghosts, grab a seat at one of the rustic wooden tables in the dimly lit space, sip a cocktail and take in the history that surrounds you. Go.
Pick up a copy of the July/August issue for insider access to award-winning cocktails in a speakeasy walking tour.