I love a good Speakeasy. Oh, cocktail joy!

Living in NYC offers a plethora of watering holes to get your drink on. There is so much to choose from that at times we argue endlessly about where to go or what kind of place we want to spend our drinking time at. We are a fickle bunch and all have our preferred spots to down a beer or enjoy a quality made libation. Many are creatures of habit and will only hit up the same joints now and again. This drives me nuts as I like to explore new places and try out something different depending on my mood. I am happy to say that the group of friends I associate with also are of the same mindset. Bars, pubs, clubs, sports bars, dive bars, gay bars, cocktail bars, hipster bars, metal bars, etc, and my own special favorite – the Speakeasy.

I love a good Speakeasy. These specialized bars that pay homage to a time long ago when our country lost it’s mind and outlawed all beer, booze, and spirits. Prohibition to me was one of the worst decisions that our country ever made. Yeah, how did that brain-thrust of an idea work out?

Hey, it did give us bootlegging, organized crime, and that perennial American favorite, NASCAR! From 1920-1933 the USA was deemed a “dry country” with the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol and alcoholic beverages illegal. This all gave rise to these hidden spots behind walls and in dark alleys with secret entrances and passwords called Speakeasies. If I was alive back then I could totally see myself as a regular patron of these places. Nowadays, they are more commercialized and with a theme feel as many have opened up in recent years with a pricey specialized cocktail menu. Sleek and chic, while being dimly lit, with a cool vibe the modern Speakeasy is all about the mixology. To me it’s worth it to spend some extra cash on an expertly mixed drink as compared to the slop bartending I experience at many bars around the city. Plus, it just feels fun to hang out in a spot that is kind of secretive and you can picture the coppers busting in at any moment!

I love a good Speakeasy. Here is a short list of a few that I enjoy of which I have reviewed. There are still many I need to have a cocktail in yet. I am on a mission to destroy my liver. It hates me.

Little Branch – http://www.yelp.com/biz/little-branch-new-york?q=phil+h

Neo – the choice is yours. Swallow the blue pill and all will remain the same. Your life will go on in the same light beer, frat boy, and rack liquor drink existence. Swallow the red pill and escape into the real world of high end quality cocktails in adult surroundings reminiscent of an old 1930’s speakeasy. Be forewarned that once you stumble down into the rabbit hole you might just want to stay with Alice for awhile and buy her a few luscious libations…….

Raines Law Room – http://www.yelp.com/biz/raines-law-room-new-york?q=phil+h

All I can say from my experience here the other night is that if Raines Law Room were a porn star she would be Jenna Jameson – one of the hottest and highest paid performers in the biz. Extremely sexy, alluring, and intoxicating. If you can get past the doorman after buzzing in you are greeted by a speakeasy decor of plush elegance and cool chicness…….

Death & Company – http://www.yelp.com/biz/death-company-new-york?q=phil+h

I can think of none other for review #800 that deserves this more right now than Death & Company. Pure and classic bartending that is an art form and deserves to be praised.

Dark and brooding like the Vampire Lestat sipping on a type-o blood cocktail hidden away in a shadowy corner. Death & Company is appropriately named for those of us who prefer to shun the light and move between the dimmed view of candle light. No one knows you are there, yet your presence can be felt by the glowing stare of your eyes as you partake in classic cocktail enjoyment……..

Hourglass Tavern/Bettie Bar – http://www.yelp.com/biz/hourglass-tavern-new-york-3?q=phil+h

There is just so much win about Bettibar that it astounds me since it’s located in the Theater District restaurant row area. Did we just happen to stumble upon a speakeasy type establishment in tourist central? OMG – this place is PURE WIN!

As we were proceeding on our night of drinking debauchery and were headed over to Hell’s Kitchen to bar hop a bit more and get a bite to eat I saw this hidden gem located next to the Hourglass Tavern. It’s actually owned by them. You have to ring the buzzer to be let in and then walk up a narrow flight of stairs to find Bettibar…….

Milk & Honey – http://www.yelp.com/biz/milk-and-honey-new-york-2?q=phil+h

Dark and mysterious. Hard to find. No phone number listed. Quiet and sexy at the same time. Relaxed with subdued conversations going on. The way a speakeasy should be……..

Angel’s Share – http://www.yelp.com/biz/angels-share-new-york?q=phil+h

It takes a mere doorway in Village Yokocho to transport you to a spacious speakeasy. I was glad there was a small 5min wait unlike many speakeasies I’ve been to in the city. I’m all for waiting for quality cocktails but sometimes, I do not want to wait 45mns to get a seat.

Unlike any speakeasy I’ve been to in NYC, I like that Angel’s Share lets you take a glimpse into the outside world from above. I love people watching……..

Please Don’t Tell – http://www.yelp.com/biz/please-dont-tell-new-york-2?q=phil+h

Three things at the top of my “lust list” –

A Speakeasy.



Benton’s Old Fashioned with bacon infused bourbon for the win!

Yes, PDT can at times have an excessively long wait to get it, and waiting on that line to get into the phone booth for the not-so-secret-anymore entrance is still a bit of a goofy thrill in a “Get Smart” agent kind of way……….

Dutch Kills – http://www.yelp.com/biz/dutch-kills-long-island-city?q=phil+h

The best speakeasy in Queens! Came here last night for the first time and realized it’s the kind of cozy, dark, and mellow place that can suck you in for hours and not have a clue as to what time it is before your stumble out.

Love the classic hidden speakeasy vibe Dutch Kills has going on here. It’s in a desolate strip along Jackson Ave that can get kinda sketchy late at night. At least the subway stop is only a block away for quick access. You wouldn’t know it’s here at all except for a small nondescript white neon sign that says “bar”………

Apothe’ke – http://www.yelp.com/biz/apoth%C3%A9ke-new-york-2?q=phil+h

Sometimes late at night when you are a bit drunk, well actually A LOT drunk, and wandering down a dark street or alley you think to yourself while mind is all fuzzy that this might not be a good idea. Wandering down a dark, abandoned, and kind of seedy back street in Chinatown might not be the best move you think. Walking through an unmarked door into a shadowy abandoned Chinese restaurant also might be an invitation to a body part harvesting situation. Eh – you’re drunk and throw caution to the wind. Don’t think my liver is worth much anyway at this point with all the abuse I put it through………

JBird http://www.yelp.com/biz/jbird-new-york?q=phil+h

Great hidden spot on the UES / Yorkville for tiki like cocktails in a lounge setting. It’s almost as if a prohibition era speakeasy was mutated with a tiki lounge with a bit of the Maltese  Falcon thrown in for good measure. When we walked in here I thought I had entered a bar somewhere downtown, but so surprised that it’s in my hood!………



Now I am thirsty! What is your favorite place enjoy a great cocktail? How do they compare out in other parts of the country? Let me know so I can check them out in my travels.

Time to imbibe!



25 thoughts on “I love a good Speakeasy. Oh, cocktail joy!”

  1. They have a bunch of Speakeasy clubs in Chicago. Love going to them. You really feel like you are living in the Prohibition days. Some are hard to find and in basements of restaurants, etc. The real deal!

    1. Hey Matt! Yes, I love these joints! Can’t wait to visit Chicago again and drop into a few for a drink.

      Part of the fun is finding them! And stumbling out!

  2. Wait wait… (great article and review, btw) how did Prohibition lead to the creation of Nascar? Yes, this is the great article, but I must know how those two work together.

    1. Hey Jean! Thanks so much, glad you liked it! 🙂

      In a nutshell – Bootlegging and rum running became a big time thing during Prohibition. The illegel transfer of moonshine and other bootleg booze made those doing this supercharge their car engines to out run the police cars chasing them. Many of them began racing during the day when not rum running at night. After Prohibition ended some of these former rum rummers went to the racing game and in the end Nascar was born out of it.

      1. Ah, now it all makes sense. Can’t say I blame them, even though Nascar is not my style. Us yankees will never understand…

  3. I’ve never been to New York, though I’ve always wanted to (you guys have Broadway!). These speakeasies sounded like a lot of fun. I especially enjoyed the one you described as the Jenna Jamison of speakeasies. And yes, I do know who she is.

    I grew up in Chicago, but was a workaholic back then. Wish I’d spent more time enjoying life back then.

    1. Hey Kitt! You have to do NYC at least once. Take in some Broadway shows, hit some terrific bars, eat at some great restaurants. Be prepared to drop some serious cash here!

      The speakeasies are very cool but a tad pricey. I know they have them in Chicago too. You can still enjoy life now! It’s never too late! 🙂

      1. I’ll have to check some out the next time I’m up there visiting my sister. Now I live in Florida, nearly 2 hours away from the bigger cities.
        And yeah, shows are definitely on my agenda when I get to New York…

  4. If you keep mixing it UP, you’ll never find that one place “where everyone knows your name.”

    Settle down, Wild Man!


    1. The problem is – too many of these places know my name!

      Living in NYC is a blessing and a curse! One day my liver is going to abandon me!

  5. It turns out we are doing a family reunion next summer in N.Y.C. There’s a thousand places to eat and drink in the city, how do you make up your mind where to go? I’m grabbing your button, I cannot wait to read your articles.

    1. Hi Susana! There are so many places to eat and drink here. It’s great and also bad for my waist line!

      Check out my Yelp reviews and lists I have there. I keep my reviews real and honest with a humorous twist in many of them.

      Thanks for reading! Also, I put your blog in my blogroll and bloggers that I read page. 🙂

      1. Thank you so much! I made a page with your link so I can read your updates with one click, and for others to see it on my blog a week ago. 🙂

  6. This is an extensive list! I love a good speakeasy too.

    It’s cool to feel like you’re in the know about this super secret bar, even though all you had to do was look it up online, but still. It’s great for those of us that aren’t welcome at the *real* exclusive places.

    1. Hey Jill!

      Thanks for reading. Glad you liked my list! I don’t go for the overhyped pretentious club scene. Leave that to the drunk kids, amateurs, and bridge & tunnel crowd. 🙂 There is nothing like a great cocktail in a cool place that has character! Do you have any favorite spots?

  7. Being new to NYC, I don’t remember much names or areas so here I am harassing my friend to know where is the speakeasy we went to so I can share with you, and of course it is already on your list – Angel’s Share 🙂 so I don’t have any recommendations, but you have plenty for me so thank you! I will probably try one tonight! Thanks for sharing.

Feel free to comment! We all have opinions!