It’s been more than a decade since the word “speakeasy” returned to the modern cocktail bar lexicon. Many of these so-called speakeasies have been among the world’s worst-kept secrets, but they prove a point: We still love the thrill of an illicit drink.
Among the latest generation of hidden bars, many are secreted away within hotels. It makes sense, since most hotels have bar programs already, and often have unused rooms or nooks in public or private spaces that lend themselves to just a few well-chosen seats. While many of these bars give priority to hotel guests as a perk, they’re usually open to all comers -- if they know the bar is there. (But note that reservations are often required.)
It helps to befriend a bartender or hotel staffer, especially for bars that may not be permanent fixtures. For example, NYC’s NoMad hotel hosted two such bars for a while, in the spirit of pop-ups: one was nicknamed “Rum Row,” a hotel room converted into the tiniest slip of a tiki bar, complete with palm frond wallpaper, a bar with precisely two wicker stools, and outstanding daiquiris. The other was a Suntory tachinomi (standing bar), built in a narrow, alley-like outdoor space to serve Japanese-style whisky highballs. Brigadoon-style, they existed for a shimmering, alcohol-soaked moment, then faded away without a trace.
Hotels across the country are full of such secret drinking spots, hidden behind sliding doors, tucked away in suites, concealed behind velvet curtains. Here are six drinking experiences to be had in hotels right now -- if you can find your way there, of course.