15 Best Speakeasies In NYC

Speakeasies have a long and checkered past in New York City. When alcohol was banned in 1920, bars and saloons had to go underground to keep operating and remained there until alcohol became legal again over a decade later in 1933. During the Prohibition era, bars were usually hidden behind or underneath legal businesses and often run by organized crime syndicates. And thus, the speakeasy was born.

These days, booze is back in the limelight. Although grabbing a drink no longer needs to be done in secret, the novelty of the Prohibition-era speakeasy is having a renaissance, with The Big Apple at its epicenter. In fact, many of these modern speakeasies are some of the best cocktail bars in New York City, employing trained mixologists with a reputation for making some of the most luxurious libations the city has to offer. Keep reading for our list of the best speakeasies in New York City.

Please Don't Tell

Please Don't Tell (or PDT, as it's often called) is often cited as one of the first speakeasies in New York, and the place that started the speakeasy trend that took the city by storm in the 2010s. Gaining entrance to PDT is no small feat. First, you've got to make your way down a small set of stairs to Crif Dogs, a hot dog eatery on the basement level of a building on St. Mark's Place. Enter the phone booth in the restaurant, which will connect you to a PDT staff member, and the other side of the booth will open into cocktail heaven.

Bartender Jim Meehan, who was bartending at the famous Gramercy Tavern at the time, collaborated with the owner of Crif Dogs to open PDT in 2007. High-end cocktail bars were just becoming popular in New York, and Jim led the beverage program with instant classics like the Hanky Panky, made with gin, vermouth, and Fernet Branca. If you're looking to toast a high-quality cocktail at the speakeasy that started it all, head to PDT.


Karasu is part of the new generation of speakeasy-style establishments in New York. There are no secret codes or doors disguised as laundry machines that get you inside. There's just a nondescript door in the back of Walter's, a restaurant in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood. Karasu is a Japanese-style Izakaya and, with its simple décor, thoughtfully prepared dishes, and a killer cocktail menu, it is a nod to Japan's casual, communal drinking and dining style.

Most of the drinks on offer have a unique Japanese twist, like the G2G, which incorporates green tea-infused vodka, and the Dungeon Party, featuring yuzu, ponzu, and amaro. The creative craft cocktails share the drink menu with a healthy selection of Japanese whisky, sake, and shochu, which have been carefully selected to pair with Karasu's cuisine. If you're going during peak dining hours, be sure to make a reservation, because it fills up fast.


On a narrow street in the heart of Manhattan's Chinatown neighborhood, a plain metal door is stamped with the letters "AB." Open it, and you'll find yourself in a bar reputed to have some of the best cocktails in New York City. It may seem strange at first that Attaboy doesn't have a cocktail menu. Instead, you've got to talk to one of the bartenders to give them a sense of what liquor or flavor profile you're looking for and they'll take your drink order into their own hands.

And, don't worry, because those hands belong to some of the best mixologists around. Attaboy opened in the former Milk and Honey location and was started by a couple of the latter's former bartenders, Sam Ross and Michael McIlroy, who used to work there. They've taken the basic format of Milk and Honey, which was a star in the upscale bar scene in the 2000s, and updated it with a simple décor and an eye for the modern drinker. If you're looking for a one-of-a-kind cocktail experience, stop by Attaboy, but be prepared to wait if you show up on Friday or Saturday night.

Mezcaleria la Milagrosa

It might feel strange at first to step through a refrigerator door in the back of a tiny bodega in Williamsburg, but if you're looking to try out one of this hip neighborhood's latest attractions, that's exactly what you're going to have to do. Mazcaleria la Milagrosa serves up a wide selection of tequila and mezcal in margaritas, Palomas, and other Mexican-style cocktails.

When you get to the back of the bodega, you'll find a hostess sitting in front of the refrigerator next to a red phone that she picks up to dial the bartender and confirm your reservation. This hip bar is small and cozy; you'll need to call ahead to book your spot. The back of the space features a small dance floor with a bumping sound system, which is perfect because the playlists here will make you want to shake your hips after a few margaritas.

Adélaïde's Salon

There's an old-timey soda machine on Eighth Avenue in the fashionable Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan that is not a soda machine at all. Open the door and head down the narrow staircase and you'll find yourself in Adélaïde's Salon, one of the most exclusive speakeasies in New York. The light bites and cocktails here are focused on spiritual health and wellness and curated by Adélaïde herself, a mysterious presence who is referred to on the Resy page as "The High Priestess."

A night at Adélaïde's is no casual affair. A strict dress code enforces cocktail attire and business casual, which requires sports jackets and shoes, and every reservation requires that each guest spend a minimum of $50 on food and drink. Magic shows and psychic readings are also held there, ensuring you have an unforgettable enchanting night.

Fig. 19

If you visit Fig. 19., the small door at the back of SFA Projects, one of many art galleries in the neighborhood, leads to a small bar that sports a cozy, intimate vibe with a tufted leather couch and a gallery wall that give the impression of a tastefully decorated living room. And the cocktails here are elevated to an art form.

The drinks lean on the playful, experimental side, with libations like the Midnight in Paris, which incorporates ginger syrup, creme de cacao, and mole bitters, and the Chinatown Daquiri with mezcal, velvet falernum, and basil. Once you've knocked back a few drinks, you can head downstairs to Home Sweet Home, a raucous dance bar conveniently located just downstairs and operated by the same team running Fig. 19.


What better place to open a speakeasy than in a former opium den? Apothéke is located on a famously photogenic street in the heart of Manhattan's Chinatown, an iconic location for an equally iconic bar. The cavernous interior has been refashioned in an antique pharmacy style, a theme reflected in the carefully chosen décor and the cocktails themselves.

Bartenders at Apothéke take their jobs seriously. They're dressed in white coats that make them look more like scientists than bartenders and they're known to get creative with their cocktails, which are grouped into categories according to their supposed psychological effects like "aphrodisiacs," "pain killers," and "stimulants." And Sunday is absinthe night, where the infamous green liquor is served in all its glory, and a strict dress code is enforced after 9 p.m.

The Garret

The Garret may not have the same refined menu and intimate environment as many of the other speakeasies on our list, but the hip, young, patrons there definitely know how to party. Walk to the back of a Five Guys burger stand on Seventh Avenue in the West Village and a bouncer will be waiting to check your ID and usher you up a staircase.

You'll arrive in a room with a raucous good time with a bumping playlist, a short but solid cocktail menu, and a cool clientele who are there to have a good time. If you're trying to impress a date on a weeknight, The Garret is a great place to go, but if you're headed there late on Friday and Saturday, beware because The Garret can get pretty packed.

The Up & Up

Occupying the former location of the famous Gaslight Café, which was frequented by beat generation legends like Allen Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac, and Diane di Prima, The Up & Up has big shoes to fill. The basement room that houses The Up & Up is located on a particularly chaotic stretch of MacDougal Street between West 3rd and Bleecker full of crowded restaurants and comedy clubs, and the cozy lounge is a respite from the throngs of crowds on the sidewalk above.

The cocktail list is wildly creative and has something for everyone. The Quilt Room is a drink with bourbon, bitters, and rooibos tea, and the Stay Gold has bourbon, lime juice, and IPA beer. These drinks may sound a bit out there, but the team at The Up & Up is comprised of some of the most talented mixologists in New York City and you can rest assured that they've done their homework when it comes to serving a quality craft cocktail. If these sound too wild, you can always opt for the insanely good Midori sour. Some menu items are also available non-alcoholic and the snacks on the menu are provided by the famous Murray's Cheese, which is located just down the street.

Sunshine Laundromat

If you're walking down Manhattan Avenue in Brooklyn's Greenpoint neighborhood and you passed Sunshine Laundromat, you'd (reasonably) assume that it's a place to get your fluff and fold taken care of. While it is a functioning laundromat and you're certainly welcome to do a load of whites, one of the washers in the back is a secret door that leads to a pinball arcade and bar.

While Sunshine may not have the sophisticated cocktail list and refined clientele boasted by many of the other speakeasies on our list, the beer is cheap and there are dozens of pinball machines that you can play to your heart's content. And if you're a real pinball wiz, the leaderboard at Sunshine gets updated on its website for the whole world to know.

PS at Pine & Polk

Pine & Polk may seem like your average upscale specialty food store, selling small batch ice cream and gluten-free crackers, but if you push on one of the shelves lined with gourmet chocolate bars, you'll find yourself in one of New York City's newest speakeasies. This 39-seat bar is cozy and intimate and serves up refined perfection in the form of creative cocktails and modern takes on time-tested classics; the signature martini, for instance, comes with a "bouquet of seasonal pickled vegetables," according to the menu.

PS is also run by a team of only women, which is a rarity in the industry. Started by two friends, Lindsay Weiss and Alyssa Golub, who worked in the food industry in San Francisco. PS brings a distinctly West Coast vibe to the business-forward neighborhood in Hudson Square where the bar is located.

Little Branch

If you're looking for a real speakeasy experience, head to Little Branch on 7th Avenue South in Manhattan's West Village. According to New York Magazine, the rules include "no talking loudly or misbehaving" and the bartenders wear suspenders in a nod to prohibition-era attire. The bar is the brainchild of the late Sasha Petraske, one of New York City's most influential bartenders and the creator of some of the most popular cocktail bars in the five boroughs.

If you want to keep with the prohibition theme, you can order a classic like a Tom Collins or a Sazerac. If you'd like to walk a little more on the wild side, you can tell the bartenders what you're in the mood for and they'll whip something up that is sure to impress. There's also a stand-up piano and sometimes a jazz ensemble will serenade the room as you sip on your perfectly crafted cocktail.

Saint Tuesday

In the sub-cellar of the Walker Hotel in Manhattan's chic Tribeca neighborhood, Saint Tuesday is making a name for itself as one of the finest new bars in New York. The cocktail menu at this hidden haunt is pared down to the bare minimum, with just a handful of classics like a Tom Collins and (of course) a Manhattan. There are a few creative options, like a Haitian Divorce with rum, mezcal, and sherry, and an Irish Carry-On, which features Irish whiskey, amaro, and chocolate bitters. And if you feel like taking a chance, the trained mixologists at Saint Tuesday can fix you up something off-menu depending on how you're feeling.

And it's not just the drinks that keep customers coming back to this cavernous oasis under the hustle and bustle of the Manhattan streets. Saint Tuesday has live music every night from 9:30 p.m. to midnight.

Storage at UES

For years, the speakeasy trend seemed like a strictly downtown affair. Nightlife north of midtown has a reputation for being stuffy and outdated, but that's changing with the arrival of bars like Storage, a speakeasy located inside an ice cream parlor on Manhattan's Upper East Side. There are no obvious signs that this dimly lit world of craft cocktails is hidden behind a secret door in the unassuming scoop shop, which you can only enter if you know a secret code. The traditional old-timey decoration at UES gives way to chic tufted black leather booths and hot pink accents that make this uptown speakeasy just as hip as any of its downtown counterparts.

And Storage is proud of its uptown roots. The drinks on the menu celebrate iconic Upper East Side locations, of which there are many. The 1040 Fifth Avenue is a nod to the former address of Jackie O (the neighborhood's unofficial princess), and the Meet Me at The Met refers to the famous museum on the east side of Central Park.

Sincerely, Ophelia

Underneath the Chicken and Egg, a fried chicken restaurant in the ultra-hip East Village, lies Sincerely, Ophelia. It is a speakeasy that caters to the younger generation of drinkers who inhabit this area of downtown Manhattan. Unlike some of the old-fashioned cocktail establishments on our list, this bar features graffiti-covered bathrooms, relatively cheap drinks, and a VIP room flooded with red lights.

Started by the former creative director of the famed Broken Shaker a few blocks north, Sincerely, Ophelia features classics like a boulevardier alongside adventurous originals like the Chaco Taco's Revenge, with Campari, banana, and cacao, as well as house-made hard seltzer. The website assures that the "music and vibes" here "connect with the generation Z and millennial audience" who frequent this hip new watering hole.