Food & Drink

They went and did it: this cocktail bar is hidden in a damn watertower

In classic fashion, New York has taken something egalitarian and made it invite-only. This time, that thing is water. An abandoned water tower in Chelsea has been converted into The Night Heron, a super-exclusive and actually secret speakeasy where entering is technically illegal and no photo evidence of your visit is allowed. The lucky folks at The Atlantic got a first-hand glimpse of the experience, the fantastical brainchild of entrepreneur N.D. Austin (check out some of his other “transgressive placemaking” endeavors at Wanderlust Projects). After invitees receive a pocketwatch as their form of entry, they're told to gather on a specific street corner at a specific time. They then climb through various obstacles (a fire escape, 12 flights of stairs, an extension ladder) until they finally step through a trap door into the “bar”: a candlelit, chandelier-spattered space inside said water tower, replete with “aromatic amber concoctions” and a ceiling hatch that offers courageous patrons a perspective of the city that only birds and actual water previously enjoyed.The invite process is actually relatively democratic, since the watches are passed from person to person, and individuals are only allowed to attend once. So, if someone slyly slips a pocketwatch into your hand any time soon, don't taze them like normal. Or do, but keep the watch.Peep the slideshow above for more pics, then sign up for the mailing list over at

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