There is something ridiculously scandalous and enticing about anything that’s supposed to be a secret. Being in the know and having to keep classified information somewhat is a talent. Professor of Management Michael Slepian from Columbia Business School conducted a study regarding the effects of secrets on an individual’s life and found that secret keepers felt a physical weight holding secrets. So it does not come as a surprise that when something as loud and rambunctious as going to a bar and grabbing a drink is supposed to be kept under the radar, everyone tries to get in on it.
Speakeasies emerged during the strict years of Prohibition when people were doing anything to grab a drink. Bootleggers made quite a profit selling homemade alcohol, while speakeasies began flourishing all over the country. In New York City, the 1920s hailed a whole era of hidden bars. Anywhere from 20,000 to 100,000 speakeasies were established during the intense years of Prohibition.
Speakeasies are still scattered throughout the city. Here is a list of a few gems to seek in the most inconspicuous places.
In the backroom of Village Yokocho in the East Village resides Angel’s Share. With a large heavenly angel mural resting over the bar, the large line extending to the sushi bar at this particular speakeasy is sure to confuse the unaware diners.
The Back Room is known to be one of two of the speakeasies still standing since Prohibition. Located in the Lower East Side, the bar is known for its interesting serving glasses. Cocktails are served in teacups with beers in brown paper bags, a nod to its time during Prohibition. To enter, it is suggested to go down the stairs of “Lower East Side Toy Company,” through the back alley and up another flight of stairs to reach the entrance.
For fun and games, the Sunshine Laundromat in Brooklyn has got you covered. With a simple menu consisting of beer and wine but close to 30 arcade games to play, laundry day won’t be quite the same. You’ll be in for a surprise opening a dryer door and entering this speakeasy.
Located in Colorado and New York Death & Co. is a speakeasy renowned for its cocktails and has been awarded the World’s Best Cocktail Menu and Best American Cocktail Bar at Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards. Dimly lit, with essential mood lighting, this speakeasy has an intriguing and moody name that speaks for itself.
Please Don’t Tell in the East Village, specifically past a phone booth inside Crif Dogs, is a popular speakeasy with wait times known to be painstakingly long. Crif Dogs, normally a popular hot dog joint, holds a bar with refreshing cocktails including ones made with bacon-infused bourbon.
The most conventional establishments will lead to the most unexpected bars, as seen by many of the speakeasies on this list. While there are always more to explore, perhaps speakeasy enthusiasts will loosen their lips and continue sharing the swanky bars carefully hidden throughout the city just like how we’ve slipped a few secrets here for you.
Disclaimer: WSN does not condone underaged drinking.
A version of this article appeared in the Jan. 22 print edition. Email Liv Chai at [email protected]