Speak-Easy in NYC with LHCPublished: November 16th, 2014
Speakeasies were established during the prohibition era in an effort to provide cocktails and illegal bootleg alcohol to thirsty consumers. They were secret bars, or merely secret rooms in functioning establishments where only a few select people were invited to frequent. The name “Speak-Easy” even refers to the quiet and hushed voices patrons would have to use while there to avoid being found. With the re-legalization of alcohol, speakeasies began to disappear, however over the last decade New York City has seen an influx; thus allowing modern New Yorkers to revisit a unique time in our history.
Ron, our wonderful concierge at Hotel Giraffe, provides us with the ‘hush-hush-need-to-knows’ of navigating these prestigious NYC cocktail bars:
I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing many of the speakeasies NYC has to offer. Upon my many visits I noticed that although they are all unique in their own ways, my favorite all had a few things in common that truly give you that speakeasy feel. They all have very dim, warm lighting with exquisite decor and muted tones that make you feel very at home and cozy. They also don’t have signs and are usually behind storefronts with secret entrances that create an instant feeling of obscurity. Below is a list of my top 4 favorite speakeasies in NYC.
Bathtub Gin is located on 132 9th avenue and is entered by going through a hidden door in the wall of a coffee shop. A copper bathtub is prominently displayed in the center of the bar, a nod to the process of making homemade spirits during the prohibition. Great atmosphere for a first date or a lovely dinner date with your significant other, depending on the night. On weekends, it can become quite lively, so try to arrive as early as possible. My favorite drink: the La Louisiane, an absinthe based drink including whiskey. It is no longer on the menu, but they’ll surely make it if you ask. So impress your date by ordering it!
The Campbell Apartment is a two-floor venue located on 15 Vanderbilt Avenue and is the former offices of John W. Campbell, a 1920s tycoon. You can enter on Vanderbilt Avenue and just walk up the stairs or go through Grand Central Station and take a secret elevator up. (I’d suggest just entering on Vanderbilt Avenue. Getting turned around in Grand Central is easy for even for New Yorkers!) The Campbell Apartment is also great for dates, but perfectly suitable for a night out with friends. My favorite drink: the Prohibition Punch, a classier version of fruity punchbowl and is topped with a splash of Moët.
Death & Co. is located on 433 E 6th street in the middle of a non-descript city block and can only be found by a doorman standing in front of two large doors. Of all the speakeasies on the list, this one is know for the time and effort put into making each drink, so be prepared to wait. Death & Co. has very tight quarters, so going with more than four people is not recommended. If the wait is too long, the doorman can take down your phone number and give you a ring once a table opens. My favorite drink: the Zombie Punch which gives a strong spin on a Tiki drink. This drink is also no longer on the menu, but is one of the more interesting drinks Death & Co. has to offer. Once again, look impressive by ordering a secret drink!
Please Don’t Tell is located on 113 St. Marks Place and has one of the more covert entrances on the list. PDT is hidden inside of a Crif Dogs establishment and is entered by going through a phone booth that acts like a time portal to the old days. You’re able to begin making reservations at 3pm, so if you are going to travel with a larger crowd, it’s best to start dialing at 2:59pm as PDT gets full quickly. My favorite Drink: the Platanos en Mole Old Fashioned, a unique and sour take on a classic cocktail.
Keep in Mind- RSVPing beforehand is your best bet at getting into a speakeasy, especially if it’s your first time. While these establishments may seem expensive with cocktails ranging from $14 – $28, the quality of the drinks certainly makes them worth every penny and you will receive an unforgettable experience. All four of the aforementioned speakeasies have impressive food menus that compliment their phenomenal cocktail options. Remember to make a good impression on the doormen and look presentable. Enjoy!
If you would like assistance making reservations or would like further recommendations, please feel free to contact our concierge team at the Hotel Elysee, Library Hotel, Casablanca Hotel, or Ron himself at Hotel Giraffe!