The 18 Best Secret Bars in NYC
From a bar behind a phone booth inside a hot dog shop to Marie-Antoinette-inspired spots, grab a drink at these Big Apple speakeasies.
The speakeasy-style bar that transports New Yorkers to a bygone era of clandestine debauchery, saw a resurgence in popularity during the 2000s in thanks to spots like PDT (Please Don’t Tell)—known for its hidden entrance behind a phone booth inside Crif Dogs—and soon-to-shutter Angel’s Share. And ever since, speakeasies have amassed loyal followings and are considered must-tries for both locals and out-of-towners alike.
In addition to spots like Bathtub Gin and Peachy’s (the next door sister spot of restaurant Chinese Tuxedo), currently, a new crop of openings throughout the city have joined the existing plethora of joints hidden beneath subway platforms, behind secret doors, and within other restaurants and bars. So after you’ve visited all of the best new bars, singles bars, and rooftop bars in NYC, here are the 18 best speakeasies to grab a drink at.
One of the fresher faces in the speakeasy bar scene is Saint Tuesday, found deep below the trendy Walker Hotel in Tribeca. Just opened at the end of 2021, this moody speakeasy manages to feel like it's been there for a while. Worn wooden floors, arched mirrors bookended by columns, and classic bentwood stools and tables create a cozy energy—helped along by tasty cocktails, and live music every night starting at 9:30 pm. Cozy up for the night with a Hot House, a deceptively named cocktail with a refreshing mix of gin, lemon, cucumber and absinthe. For those looking for something even more special, treat yourself to a classic from their “reserve” list, which showcases rare and vintage spirits. No reservations required at this first-come, first-serve bar.
A speakeasy-style bar isn’t typically the place you’d go to see and be seen, but perhaps when it's located in one of the West Village’s buzziest restaurants, there are exceptions to be made. Venice Bar is the latest addition to Italian restaurant Saint Theo (one of NYC’s best new restaurants), located behind a velvet curtain near the host stand. Within, find plush and gilded interiors best enjoyed while sipping The Moonraker—a concoction of gin, Italicus bergamot liqueur, vermouth, and tincture of lemon and thyme. The bar is first-come, first-serve right now, but keep it between us that you can call first.
It’s time to take your medicine, and Apotheke is ready with all the syrups. This aptly located, apothecary-themed “speakeasy” can be found in what was once a former opium den in Chinatown. We maintain that the best speakeasy-themed bars create a full sensorial experience, which Apotheke does in spades with gold-painted original tin ceilings, long cozy sofas, and cocktail ingredients sourced from the bar’s own rooftop garden. True to their name and theme—cocktails like The Matador are meant to stimulate with tequila, red bell pepper, cantaloupe and a habanero tincture, while stress relievers like the Pink Panther incorporate palo santo-infused rum and coconut milk. To find the spot, look for the red Gold Flower Restaurant sign.
Despite an unassuming entrance behind a plain metal door (look for the “AB”), Attaboy has made numerous appearances on the best bar lists for both NYC and the world. Despite all the acclaim, the bar maintains the same laid-back vibe it has emanated from the start. White-washed brick and low romantic lighting are a signature of Attaboy, as well as stellar cocktails. No menu means no limits at Attaboy, whose bartenders feel out your vibes and preferences to deliver bespoke cocktails for each of their patrons. This spot doesn’t allow for reservations, so our suggestion is to get there as early as possible.
Close your eyes and picture what a true 1920s speakeasy actually looked and felt like, and you might actually be looking at Bathtub Gin. The group of cocktail-seeking potential patrons outside might initially ruin the idea of this place being “hidden,” but once inside, all of that is forgotten. The facade of the space is a functioning coffee shop by day, but by night you’re led to the back to find an opulent space complete with a clawfoot copper tub and Chesterfield sofas. After making your reservation, get ready to enjoy cocktails like Flippin’ Good, which utilizes an entire quail egg and passionfruit brandy, or the Blasta Kick with house-made hazelnut orgeat and scotch. If you find yourself there on a Tuesday or Sunday, you’ll be treated with a burlesque show.
Perhaps one of the realest “speakeasy” experiences in the city right now, Bedroom 6 is an invite-only bar open on Sunday nights, with a catch. Patrons can request to follow the bar on Instagram, and if accepted will be prompted to pick a time slot to participate in their Original Absinthe Experience. Participants learn about the magic of absinthe and connect with their fellow imbibers, and there’s an open bar following the “ritual” during which you’re invited to draw, chat, answer deep handwritten prompts, and order more absinthe or perhaps an espresso martini.
The 1920s-themed Dear Irving is probably one of the best date-night speakeasy bars, for a multitude of reasons. Enter the space through unassuming apartment-esque double doors and you’ll find yourself in Marie Antoinette’s dressing room, or in the Mad Men era depending on which side of the bar you’re seated in. The space is opulent and romantic, and we are firm believers that any drink made with hand cut ice is objectively tastier. Their spring cocktail list boasts the fruity and refreshing Poppy Collins with local gin, rhubarb liqueur and strawberries, while spicier options include the Whiskey Business with Ancho Reyes.
On an unassuming stretch of Chrystie Street, Fig. 19 combines two beloved NYC staples: a speakeasy-style bar and an art gallery. After entering the stark, minimalist walls of SFA Projects, liquid art is being made behind a door at the far back of the space. The atmosphere inside the bar is dark and cozy, with long-flowing chandeliers adding to the drama. Floral-infused cocktails dominate, like the Rose Selavy and Ginger Sling which incorporate rose and orange blossom. The Polly Jean calls upon floral liqueur, and The Prince has elderflower liqueur. Plan on reserving your voice before a visit, because the volume can get quite loud. And if you feel like dancing after, Home Sweet Home is just down the stairs.
The Garret West
If you weren’t clued into the fact that there was a swanky speakeasy style bar above it, you might be confused as to why there are so many well dressed people walking in and out of the Five Guys on Bleecker Street in the West Village. It all becomes clear once you realize that in order to access The Garret West, it’s required to walk through the fast food joint—and grabbing a burger and fries before heading up is encouraged. Once upstairs, domed skylights and hanging plants signal you’re in a very different sort of space. A short cocktail list makes picking your drink pretty easy, but we suggest ordering from the classic cocktails section—perhaps the Paperplane with bourbon and Amaro Nonino, or a Pisco Punch. The vibe here on a weekend night gets rowdy, so don’t expect a guaranteed seat.
One of the best parts of a good speakeasy is the shock and delight upon arrival, which Karasu always delivers on. Walk into contemporary American restaurant, Walters, located right on the corner of charming Fort Greene Park, and one would never expect to find a Japanese-inspired speakeasy at the back. The vibe shift after entering the bar is immediate, and preps you for inventive cocktails or a neat pour of Japanese whisky. Lychee lovers can’t go wrong with the Bee Side, and cognac fans should try the Night Night, which combines the spirit with Antica vermouth, plum sake, jalapeno and mezcal.
The 28th Street subway station is iconic for two reasons: it’s home to some very ‘gram-worthy floral tile art, and one of NYC’s hottest subterranean speakeasies. La Noxe is possibly one of the smallest speakeasy-style bars on this list, which means a reservation is pretty much necessary if you plan on arriving before 10 pm for drinks and dinner. After that, the bar turns into a tiny discotheque that is walk-in only. Dance the night away with More Passion, More Problems in hand—a boozy and tangy mix of passionfruit, lemon and orange. For those lucky enough to get in, enter on the street level down to the red-lit space for cocktails and a good time, before being spit out into the actual subway station.
The Lab at Patent Pending
If you’ve never heard of a bar within a speakeasy within a coffee shop, you can now officially say you have. From the street, all passersby see is the facade of Patent Coffee, but by night the doors are locked and the coffee shop takes on a candlelit glow. Ring a buzzer and pass through a false wall at the back to enter Patent Pending. An original arch of the building connects it to The Lab, tucked into a small cavern at the back. Their hand-illustrated menu might require a bit of extra light from your phone to read, but it will be worth it once you’re sipping on the Mexican corn whiskey and smoked serrano chile of The Science Fiction Factor. Both bars draw inspiration from Nikola Tesla, who once lived and worked in the Radio Wave Building above.
Hidden below a nondescript building on 7th Ave, Little Branch is arguably one of New York’s most classic speakeasy-style cocktail bars. Somehow, despite its lasting power, Little Branch (or LB) has also remained fairly under the radar in the best way. Mustard yellow walls line the space, and smartly dressed bartenders stand at the ready behind a steel countertop to serve up some seriously good cocktails. If you’re not in the mood for a Prohibition-era classic like a Sazerac or Tom Collins, it’s always fun to take a chance on bartender’s choice. Check out their Instagram to see the latest lineup of live musical performances.
This speakeasy-style wine bar isn’t exactly the most hidden on the list—tucked at the back of a deli counter facade with a rotating selection of hosts. (We’re told the next iteration is going to be a salumeria.) One19’s sleek decor matches a relatively modern concept of wine on tap, a sustainable method of storing vino that is meant to help keep it super fresh. The staff is knowledgeable about their pours, which is helpful for when you order a hefty wine flight to get your evening started.
Please Don’t Tell
Lovingly referred to by regulars at PDT, Please Don’t Tell is a classic NYC speakeasy that kind of started it all. A lot of the fun of this small bar is how you have to enter. While some speakeasy-style bars will simply lift a velvet curtain, at PDT you have to enter the bar via a telephone booth within the basement hot dog shop, Crif Dogs. Despite the hype, PDT crafts some pretty amazing cocktails, and the quirky atmosphere (complete with taxidermy-adorned walls) makes for a uniquely NYC experience. Sidle up to a seat at the bar and grab a mezcal mule with passionfruit, or try the cocktail equivalent of an IPA with the Cascade—Anchor Hophead vodka, grapefruit, lemon, pineapple and champagne.
Walking down the secretive steps of Peachy’s, connected to hotspot Chinese Tuxedo but with a separate entrance, the rules are simple: No photos, no fighting. We wouldn’t blame you if you snapped a few, though. The cavernous subterranean space is full of fun neon signs and faux foliage galore. Sip your cocktail through a ceramic cat cup and sink into one of their red leather booths, and don’t worry about making a reservation beforehand because it’s first-come, first-serve. Catch us at the bar getting ready for 7 Minutes in Heaven—a fizzy mix of Suntory Haku vodka, hibiscus, elderflower and yuzu.
Raines Law Room
Unlike some of the other speakeasy-style bars on this list, Raines Law Room is not the kind of place where you’ll find a rowdy crowd. Inspired by an 1896 law that attempted to curb New Yorkers’ alcohol consumption, Raines Law Room in Chelsea (there’s also one inside the William Hotel in Midtown) can be found behind a black door down a small flight of stairs on W. 17th Street. Get there early, ring the doorbell, and you’ll be led to one of their prime private seats in the back. Each one of these coveted tables has its own dedicated pull chains, making it easy to summon a server as you make your way down their cocktail list. Gin lovers can happily frolic through their “Juniper Garden,” full of fresh and herbaceous concoctions like the grapefruit-loaded Vice Versa. Meanwhile, their New York-inspired list is whiskey-forward.
By the same owners as East Village mainstay Sake Bar Decibel, which is more than worthy of a visit itself, Sakagura is a speakeasy style sake bar hidden inside an office building. Sakagura has been introducing New Yorkers to the wonderful world of sake since it opened in 1996—over 20 years ago. Finding the immersive, Japanese-inspired bar after walking through a nondescript office building feels like something out of a Studio Ghibli film, and making your way through their long list of sake varietals only sets you further into that happy haze.