ah, New York…some would say that this is the greatest city in the world to sip a fantastic cocktail in one of the coolest bars on earth.
Are you like me fascinated by the prohibition time, a period that happened between the 1920s and 1930s in the United States where people had to hide in order to get a drink?
It seems that this is particularly at that time that the cocktail was created, as it was common to put inside a drink a peacock tail in order to mention the presence of an alcoholic beverage. I don’t know if this is true but I like the story.
Did you know that during that time, New York was hosting around 100.000 speakeasies (aka hidden bars) twice the number before Prohibition started? I find this funny to witness how things go in the opposite when as human being we are forbidden to do something, right?
Given the illicit activity of the place, not everyone was allowed to get in. I mean not everyone was allowed to get inside a speakeasy. You had to know the “code of entry” which was, in general, a secret password, a handshake or a special knock.
Moreover, the place was hidden, so you had to know where it was.
If dressing up, listening to old Jazz and Blues while sipping fancy cocktails created on the spot by a very gifted mixologist is your thing, stick with me as I’m taking you on a journey through the streets of Manhattan where you will be discovering 5 hidden gems that will take you back in time and make an ordinary night out with your friends a fun adventure…
Warning! Expect to pay around 15-20$ for a cocktail, we’re speaking about elaborated drinks here.
1-THE DEAD RABBIT where Irish culture blends harmoniously with serious cocktails.
30 Water Street between Broad Street and Coenties Slip (212–422–7906, deadrabbitnyc.com).
Open from 11 am to 4 am.
Named after a notorious gang of New York, this bar has been awarded “World’s Best Cocktail Menu” at Tales of the Cocktail 2016 and “World’s Best Bar” in 2016 by the Drinks international’s competition.
This is the story of two Irish guys from Belfast who arrived in New York a decade ago with the dream of bringing together their two favorite places for a drink, a high-end cocktail bar and an Irish Tavern.
The bar is located in a historic building dating back to 1828 and is divided into two bars. A tap room on the first floor home of the largest Irish whiskey collection in America. And a cocktail bar on the second floor with a list of historically-inspired drinks.
The bar opened in 2013 and got the success it has today by focusing on crafting quality drinks as its main goal, not efficiency. Rest reassured that the team hasn’t let success get to their heads, this is first and foremost a bar where nothing is taken seriously and this is why we love it.
Have fun with their impressive menu that tells the story of a time travelling John Morissey, leader of the Dead Rabbits, an Irish-American gang from the 1850s.
Are you an old soul like me and enjoy blues music?
Mara Kaye is live every Wednesday night sharing with you the spirit of the blues.
Did you like the Dead Rabbit?
Head to their second bar the BlackTail where you will find the spirit of the famous American writer Ernest Hemingway played there during his time in La Havana exploring how Americans influenced the Cuban bartending scene during the Prohibition period.PDT —
2-PLEASE DON’T TELL, where elaborated cocktails and greasy hot dogs come together.
113 St. Marks Place (212–614–0386, pdtnyc.com).
Open daily from 6 pm to 2 am.
It’s best to make a same-day reservation by phone, starting at 3 p.m. daily.
The Please Don’t Tell will make you live the true speakeasy experience.
What I mean by that is that you will have to know where the bar is as it is hidden inside a shabby hot dog place. As any true speakeasy, the journey getting inside the bar is half the fun!
The fast food place looks awful but I’ve heard that they make ones of the best hot dogs in town.
The bar who opened in 2007 is a cosy and very small speakeasy, with wooden wainscoting ceiling and a very pleasurable place which makes it an ideal date spot. Cocktails are approachable and inventive, which means that everyone will find its own delight.
You will be able to order some hot dog from Crif Dogs if you like. The pairing with cocktails is rather great, surprisingly, and you will feel like a VIP in a secret bar, getting food to your order passed through a mysterious wall.
Jim Meehan, the formerly barman wrote one of the best-known books on cocktails. He was the first to take home the James Beard award for best bar program.
How to get in:
Step into the vintage telephone booth inside the fast-food Crif Dogs and dial “1” — a host will appear on the other side of the phone booth and offer an estimated wait time. Be prepare to wait. But rest assured that the cocktail menu is worth the wait.
Travelling in Hong Kong? Jim Meehan and its team opened in January 2018 a similar bar in the Landmark Mandarin Oriental on the mezzanine above MO Bar. It is called PDT Hong Kong of course.
3-DEATH & CO., ideal setting for intimate conversations
433 East 6th Street (deathandcompany.com)
Open daily from 6 pm to 2 or 3 am depending on the day.
No reservation. So come early.
Another bar where you will get upscale drinks.
A cocktail institution who opened its doors on new year eve 12 years ago. Its incredibly talented bartenders will create fantastic cocktails for you. You will be amazed by their creativity and the beauty of everything there.
Low-lit and intimate bar with a cool, jazzy atmosphere. Ideal for deep conversations with friends.
How to get in:
Hidden behind distinctive doors. Wooden panels replace windows at Death & Co., which you can spot by the name written in metal letters on 6th Street.
4- ANGEL’S SHARE, a delicious combination of japanese food and cocktails.
8 Stuyvesant Street
Open daily from 6 pm to 1 or 2 am depending on the day.
This is a very small and cosy bar that has been creating unique cocktails for about two decades now.
The Angel’s Share is one of the few innovative bars that have helped set a new pace for the industry with a creative menu, accommodating staff, and keen attention to detail.
You will find their cocktails held in the highest reverence blending in a speakeasy vibe with stylish décor. Drinks are mixed with scientific precision by two Japanese mixologists served in chilled glasses.
Delicious Japanese side dishes are offered to nibble along with your cocktails like sashimi or fried oysters.
How to get in:
Take the stairs and once inside the Japanese restaurant Village Yokocho, look for an unmarked door. Then, you will find yourself in a very different world, like the Pevensie children emerging from the back of a wardrobe into Narnia. If you don’t find the door, (yes it is well hidden!) ask one of the waiters they will certainly help you.
5-EMPLOYEES ONLY, meticulously prepared drinks in a mysterious setting.
510 Hudson Street (212–242–3021, employeesonlynyc.com).
Open daily from 6 pm to 4 am.
Once honoured with the title of « World’s Best Cocktail Bar », this is a popular late-night spot thanks to its food and drinks offers.
This is a beautiful space without pretence with an old-world vibe through art deco accents and mysterious, convivial ambience.
You will wonder how you ever survived up until now when seated and sipping your meticulously prepared cocktail on their elegant, convivial and sensual curving bar.
The kitchen serves dedicated food like the hand-cut steak tartare which pairs well with the drinks.
How to get in:
Look out for the neon pink “psychic” sign shining in the window.
Located in the heart of the West Village, Employees Only offers a bar and a restaurant to its guests along with a fortune teller that will do a reading for about $25.00.
Are you excited by some of these bars?
Did you make a note on your notepad or cellphone to make sure you remember the name once in Manhattan?
I’m sure you will have a delightful time there and wish you a very delicious and fun experience! Cheers!