Food & Drink

Raines Law Room

Published On 02/02/2009 Published On 02/02/2009

A patron's relationship with bar staff swings between the desire for chummy and/or flirtatious companionship, and the desire to be left to take care of business, whether that's amorously nuzzling a date, or amorously nuzzling yourself. Offering both options to the maximum degree, Raines Law Room. Serving perfectly prepared, fresh-juiced, hand-stirred or shaken classic cocktails and punches designed by a Milk & Honey vet, Raines is a sultrily lit, tin-ceiling subterranean sleeve marked only by a small plaque and doorbell -- which, like a freckled Girl Scout hawking Do-Si-Dos, you must ring to be admitted. Once inside, you're met with an anteroom flush with velvet armchairs, followed by a procession of gauzily curtained booths fit for booze-sucking vampires; each booth's equipped with a chain buzzer, so the waitress only pops in when you need another drink, or need to tell someone how awesome the buzzers are. Beyond the booths is a gilded, black-tiled kitchen, where Belgian wallpaper depicts silhouetted acts of sexual congress, and only a counter island separates three or four lucky patrons from sexual congress with the bartender. Come spring, Raines will open up a decently sizeable backyard courtyard, giving you the opportunity to peer amorously through the windows of strangers, until a pigeon takes care of business on you.

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1. Raines Law Room 48 W 17th, New York, NY 10011 (Flatiron)

Reclaiming the name of an 1896 law that attempted to ban drinking outside of New York hotels, this faux-speakeasy lays on the Jazz Age vibes thick. You have to pull a doorbell and provide a password to enter the sultry, subterranean space, and once you're inside, push on a call button and wait for servers to ferry out pre-Prohibition-inspired Gershwins (gin, lemon, ginger, rosewater) and McKittrick Old-Fashioneds (bourbon, sherry, mole bitters). Many of the aesthetic touches aren’t exactly executed with restraint, like the large ornate mirror hanging over exposed brick and boozing flappers painted on the wall, but the quality and subtlety of the cocktails make it likely that you'll get into the Raines spirit quickly.