6 Must-Visit Speakeasies and Hidden Bars in New York City
If you’re intrigued by the idea of speakeasies, New York City is your place. It's estimated that the city housed tens of thousands during Prohibition, but only a few remain—some offering the chance to drink where gangsters and rabble-rousers once did and others recently opened as modern renditions with fresh designs and creative cocktails. To help you get in on the action, here are our favorite hidden bars in New York, plus recommended cocktails from those who know best.
Death & Co.
Some of the best cocktails in America—literally
As soon as Death & Co. opened its flagship location in 2006, it became the go-to spot for cocktail aficionados in the East Village. This bar is not for the timid—you can try delights including tea-infused scotch and plum brandy, which help Death & Co. earn its spot at the top of lists ranking the best bars in the country (and the world)!
Must-try cocktail: “I can’t get enough of the Star Map. This martini variation features Bimini gin coming to us from Portland, Maine; Spanish vermouth; and the surprising combination of dill and coconut, which have a remarkable affinity for one another.”
–Shannon Tebay, head bartender at Death & Co. NYC
William Barnacle Tavern
Where Al Capone drank alongside the mayor of New York
This speakeasy raked in millions of dollars during Prohibition, serving as a spot where police captains mingled with gangsters, and jazz legend Frank Sinatra tended bar. Legend says the owners lost most of their millions paying off officials to keep quiet, but William Barnacle has managed to stay a booming bar known for its wide absinthe collection and in-house, off-Broadway theater.
Must-try cocktail: “This might be New York City’s most historic bar, but it’s also a premier absinthe bar. Order absinthe served in the Bohemian style—an art deco fountain is used, and there are two you can choose from: an angel or a demon.”
–Josh Rogol, New York City Urban Adventures tour guide
A secret jewelry box of a bar
Head to the back of Manhattan’s Middle Eastern restaurant Local92 and you’ll find a bright blue door marked with a keyhole arch. Behind it lies an oasis of green hues and sparkling crystal, along with tea-based cocktails featuring everything from mint to matcha.
Must-try cocktail: “The Dragon Punch includes aged brandy, rum, lemon, water, and black tea. ‘Punch’ comes from the Hindi word ‘paanch,’ which means five—that’s why there are five ingredients in it.”
–Blue Quarter bar staff
Hidden above a West Village burger joint
Seven days a week, New York’s hoards of young professionals descend on Five Guys—not for burgers, but to climb the back staircase up to The Garret. With classic cocktails and a friendly crowd in a dark, buzzy setting, you’ll end up staying much longer than you thought you would.
Must-try cocktail: “Order the Refinery. It’s a very good mezcal drink you can only get here. Some mezcal drinks overwhelm you, but this one doesn’t. It’s very balanced.”
–Nicholas Monroe, veteran bartender at The Garret
An underground den where anything could happen
It’s easy to walk past the nondescript door to Little Branch, set in plain sight on a West Village corner. You have to go down a dodgy flight of stairs to get inside, but once there, you’ll find the city’s most skilled mixologists ready to make you a rum swizzle or a rye fizz. Cozy up in one of the booths and hope your visit coincides with one of the venue’s live jazz performances.
Must-try cocktail: “I love the Electric Current Fizz. It’s fresh lemon juice, sugar, gin, egg white, and seltzer. On the side, we serve the egg yoke with hot sauce, Worcester sauce, and salt and pepper. It’s an old classic, like something Harry Craddock would drink.”
–Chris Covey, bartender at Little Branch
Hemingway’s favorite speakeasy, reimaged
During Prohibition, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald drank at Chumley’s to find their inspiration. The 1920s favorite closed in 2007 after the roof caved in, but now it’s back as a swanky restaurant and cocktail bar decorated with literary portraits and book jackets in homage to its past. Request table 26 to sit where Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda were regulars.
Must-try cocktail: “Get the East Side. That’s our No. 1 selling cocktail and people really like it. It’s easy drinking, refreshing. It’s a classic.”
–Kat Bohannan, bartender at Chumley’s
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