In NYC, the speakeasy style lounge trend is alive and well. But to really have a speakeasy experience, you need more than a regular bar with a secret entrance. You need ambiance, style, and exclusivity, but most of all, a true speakeasy involves outstanding ‘20s-era cocktails.
1. Please Don’t Tell (“PDT”), 113 St. Marks Place
Not so much a secret these days, the PDT has earned a reputation as a spot-on a prohibition-era cocktail lounge. To get in, walk through Crif Dogs and dial into the lounge from a retro phone booth, which reviewers say is like entering another world. Seating is limited, but the cocktails are worth the wait. Try the Bacon Infused Old Fashioned for a savory twist on a classic.
2. Attaboy, 134 Eldridge Street
Where most speakeasy-style lounges don’t have an obvious entrance, this place also doesn’t have a menu. Bartenders make custom cocktails based on a quick conversation about what you’re in the mood for. (To get in, look for an unmarked steel door off Eldridge street. Rap loudly and if no one answers after a few knocks, try the buzzer.) A redesign of the old Milk & Honey spot, the vibe is decades old even if the décor isn’t.
Not sure what to ask the Attaboy barkeep to make? Try a crowd favorite, the Hemingway Daiquiri. Hemingway didn’t like sweet drinks, so as the story goes, sometime in the 1930s he asked the bartender at Havana’s El Floridita to make him something like a daiquiri with “No sugar and double the rum.”
Make your own speakeasy experience at home with the iconic recipe.
- 0.75 oz light rum
- 0.75 oz aged rum
- 0.75 oz Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
- 0.75 oz lime juice
- 0.75 oz simple syrup
- 0.75 oz ruby red grapefruit juice
- 2 dashes bitters
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish floating lime wheel.
3. The Back Room, 102 Norfolk Street
This hidden gem operated during Prohibition and carries history all throughout its walls. The vintage décor and hidden room behind the bookcase will take you back in time. A classic 1920’s speakeasy, The Back Room was known as “The Back of Ratner’s” and served as a watering hole for film actors and notorious gangsters during the Roaring Twenties era.
The Back Room is as authentic as it gets—to enter, use the same hidden entrance that its patrons used almost 100 years ago. Play the 20’s part and sip your drink from a teacup, just as those did back in the prohibition days.