Cocktail culture in New York City is second to none. But some of the city’s best bars are the ones you can’t see from the street. Though prohibition was repealed almost a century ago, secret cocktail clubs are as lively as ever in the Big Apple. Here are NYC’s 5 best speakeasies.
Swing open the hefty steel door at the corner of Leroy Street and 7th Avenue in the West Village and venture down the dark staircase. Tuck into one of the candlelit booths that seem to be carved straight into the city’s bedrock. Home to some of the best bartenders in the city, Little Branch has mastered modern creations like the Campari-infused Jasmine cocktail. But the best drink is an old school classic—the traditional Whiskey Sour shaken with egg whites and topped by bitters.
Little Branch. 22 7th Ave S, New York, NY. (212) 929-4360
Walking down Restaurant Row on West 46th Street in Hell’s Kitchen, most people mistake Bar Centrale for an elegant apartment rather than a lively cocktail lounge. Hidden on the second story of a residential brownstone, the bar plays host to Broadway fans and stars alike for its proximity to the big stage. Pull open the black curtain through the door at the top of the stairs and make your way toward the glowing bar. But make sure you bring cash—they make full use of their elaborate vintage register.
Bar Centrale. 324 W 46th St, New York, NY. (212) 581-3130
Known affectionately to locals as “the place above Five Guys,” The Garrett is another 7th Avenue stalwart. Enter Five Guys and make your way to the stairwell in the rear. Upstairs you’ll find a lively bar with a vast array of liquors as well as custom burgers imported from the grill below. But the best part The Garrett is its small back room—where tufted leather couches and a quiet ambiance make for a great spot to relax amid the Manhattan nightlife frenzy.
The Garret. 2nd Floor, 296 Bleecker St, New York, NY. (212) 675-6157
An East Village institution, Death & Company is one of the most influential New York cocktail bars of the past decade. Seeking out rare and unique ingredients that emphasize creativity and complexity, it’s successfully turned drink-making into an art form. You’ll no doubt want to take a piece of Death and Co. home when you leave—and you can. The recently published, self-titled recipe guide that includes all the bar’s best creations will keep you hydrated for the long haul.
Death & Company. 433 E 6th St, New York, NY. (212) 388-0882
Tucked away behind a psychic booth on Hudson Street is a rip-roaring throwback to the 1920’s drinking scene. Manhattans, old-fashioneds, daiquiris and smashes are served up in classic champagne coupes at the long bar lit by lanterns and candles. If you work up an appetite you won’t have to look far—try the crowd favorite bone marrow poppers or hunker down over a hulking and shareable seared ribeye.
Employees Only. 510 Hudson St, New York, NY. (212) 242-3021