NYC Secret Bar Guide: 11 Hidden Drink Dens

Just when you thought you knew everything there was to know about New York, you find another hidden treasure. It’s the city that just keeps giving so here are 11 lesser-known bars that serve top-notch cocktails at elusive locations.

Raines Law Room – 48 W. 17th St.

Laid out like a Prohibition-era apartment, this Chelsea speakeasy offers beverages in the lounge and living room while bartenders prepare everything in a room that feels like a kitchen. To order a second (or third) round, just pull the chain next to your table and your waitress will come to your service. Thought this location is not exactly “hidden”, it is quite easy to miss. Once you locate the address, you’ll think you’re standing in front of private residence, but all you have to do is ring the buzzer and a host will usher you to your table. Reservations are only accepted on Sunday, Monday and Tuesdays while the rest of the week the room is first-come, first-served.

124 Old Rabbit Club – 124 MacDougal St.

This place is a beer lover’s heaven. Located in a narrow basement, the lounge has more than 70 types of brews on its menu and a smaller selection of wine. To find it, look for a black-hued entrance down a set of metal stairs with a white “124” stenciled above the doorway. If the door is closed, ring the buzzer and they will let you in.

The Back Room – 102 Norfolk St.

Disguised as an old-fashioned toy store, The Back Room is located on the Lower East Side. The inside is decorated with glamorous art deco style with love seats and dark red wallpaper. Cocktails are served in teacups and the place has the feel of a 1920s speakeasy.

Bar Centrale – 324 W. 46th St.

Located on Restaurant Row, this secret bar is inside an unassuming brownstone building and draws in a pre- and post-theater crowd that includes more industry insiders than tourists. When you’re looking for it, keep an eye out for an unmarked door next to Joe Allen’s steakhouse and walk right in, a hostess will be waiting inside to seat you.

Bathtub Gin – 132 Ninth Ave.

This Chelsea speakeasy mixes touches of the 1920s with a “yuppie-skewing clientele that would just as comfortable at one of the area’s numerous clubs.” Bathtub Gin is located behind an operational coffee shop so keep an eye out for a small illustration of a bathtub in the window. The place seems small, but a false wall in the back opens up to a much larger bar area.

Cabin Down Below – 110 Ave. A

Located underneath Niagara, this bar is a great place for an East Village hipster vibe. The location is not very hard to find and on weekends they have a bouncer that stands outside the entrance. When you’re at the corner of Seventh Street and Avenue A and you look down Seventh, you should see a black door and metal staircase that will lead you down the backside of a restaurant.

JBird – 251 W. 48th St.

This bar is located in Midtown’s Hilton Garden Inn and features top-notch mixology in an upscale setting. The lounge shares an elevator and a doorman with the much larger penthouse bar XVI but if you let the bouncer know you’re looking for JBird you should get through and have to follow the bird logos that line the wall along the top floor. Head down a staircase and go through two doors marked “Exit” to get into the lounge. It is a very creative bar with bartenders serving drinks in unique containers (like frozen pineapple) and drinks go for around $18, so bring some extra cash to get the full experience.

Little Branch – 22 Seventh Ave.

Little Branch is located in the West Village and is a small space by Sasha Petraske, known for Milk & Honey). The place has an unmarked brown down on the triangular corner of Seventh Avenue South and Leroy Street, which will lead you down a staircase and into the basement. It is popular with cocktail aficionados and gets busy quickly after it opens at 7 p.m. Reservations are not taken so the line down get quite long at times. Stop by an ATM before you come though as the bar only accepts cash.

No Name Bar – 597 Manhattan Ave.

This bar in Brooklyn is an easygoing place on the border of Williamsburg and Greenpoint. It opened without a name or sign, so the customers just started calling it “No Name Bar”, which stuck. Despite it’s lack of name, the building is easy to find: just look for the building clad in dark wood that is in between random mom-and-pop shops. When the weather is nice, visit their backyard garden too.

2nd Floor on Clinton – 67 Clinton St.

Located in the backroom of the Barramnudi bar, 2nd Floor on Clinton is a much cozier and classier lounge than it’s downstairs neighbor. Once you get through Barramnudi, look for a door marked “Private” in the back and head through it to find a staircase leading up to 2nd Floor on Clinton. This bar is only open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

PDT – 113 Saint Marks Pl.

Located in the back of an East Village hot dog ship, PDT has a unique entryway, an exclusive vibe and cocktails by Jim Meehan, who is known for his brand of cutting-edge mixology.  To enter, go through the hot dog shop and walk to the old-fashioned phone booth in the back, which doubles as the doorway to PDT. Reservations are needed so you have to call them the day of your visit starting at 3 p.m. If you’re unable to make it on the list, you can take your chances and just show up, but it is a very small room and there is no guarantee you’ll get in. PDT stands for “Please don’t tell”.

Source and photos: Zagat

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