Lets take it back to 1919, the kick off of one of the largest social experiments in America. The Volstead act was passed by Congress, otherwise recognized as the National Prohibition Act. This law forbade all production, buying, selling and transportation of any form of alcohol with few exceptions (religious purposes and medical aid) for the next 13 years in America. This lead to the creation of Speakeasies, hidden establishments used to illegally buy and sell alcohol- hush-hush bars. A password was needed upon entry, and often times you entered an underground establishment or a typical store. After five years, it was estimated that there was up to 100,000 speakeasies in New York. The effect of the Prohibition created a new culture among New York City that still lives on today. Check out our top (secret) Speakeasy bars throughout New York City, where you will travel back in time with a creative bespoke cocktail.
8 Stuyvesant St. East Village
Definitely not easy to find, but worth the chase. This unmarked bar must be entered from inside restaurant Village Yokocho. You will find classic Japanese-styled cocktails and romantic vibes at Angel’s Share. This speakeasy is listed on the 25 coolest speakeasies in America by Business America.
132 9th Ave, Chelsea
Enter Stone Street Coffee Company to find the magical doors that lead you into a new world in an old, 1920’s themed bar. This gin-focused speakeasy offers an extensive menu of cocktails, wines, beers, dinner and even a 12:00am-4:00pm brunch menu every Sunday. Although the prices are on the higher end, the atmosphere is well worth it.
Please Don’t Tell
113 St. Marks Place, East Village
Down the stairs of Crif Dog restaurant you will find an old fashioned telephone booth. Pick up the buzzer to be granted entry to this small and secret speakeasy bar, voted World’s Best Bars. You can order food from Crif’s kitchen to be delivered through the secret walls while sipping on signature cocktails. Just be prepared to pay $20 for one.
Milk and Honey
22 West 45th St., Flatiron
This hidden gem is disguised as “M&H, Tailors, Alterations.” Once you have found the building with a suit hanging in the window and a slightly dilapidated metal door, you have found Milk and Honey. This bar is one of the first in the movement to create modern-day speakeasies, and has been a secret hit ever since. All of the cocktail options are unique and intricately designed, service is personal, and reservations are often recommended. There is also a spin-off located in the Lower East Side, Attaboy, where you will find another “M&H Tailors, Alterations” and a buzzer to enter the boozy magic.
Beauty & Essex
146 Essex Street, Lower East Side
If you are familiar with the celebrity chef Chris Santos of ‘Chopped,’ you should most certainly check out his cofounded speakeasy saloon. You first enter through an active and extensive pawn shop, leading into one of the best restaurants in the Lower East Side with a menu suited for fine-dining and a noteworthy cocktail and wine bar.
510 Hudson St., West Village
A fortune teller will be your hostess as you are led through a bar to this prohibition-styled bar. This retro-styled speakeasy was listed #4 on Drinks International’s “World’s 50 Best Bars” list in 2015. See if it lives up to the hype yourself.
324 West 46th St., Midtown
Located right around the theater district in midtown west, Bar Centrale is easy to mistake as a simple brownstone apartment, since that is where it is located. Don’t be afraid to enter through the victorian doors and down the hallway to find this hidden yet high-demanding bar and restaurant. Reservations are highly encouraged, especially if you plan to hit this secret spot after a broadway show! There is a high chance that you may come across conversation with a broadway star, as many performers opt to come to this secret joint.
The Back Room
102 Norfolk St., Lower East Side
What’s a better way to dive back in time to the roaring 20s than to experience a one of a kind, original speakeasy. The Back Room is one of two speakeasies in New York City that were actually open since the Prohibition era, and it has been thriving every since. Disguised as “Lower East Side Toy Company,” down a flight of stairs you will find the exact same hidden door used to enter this illegal joint nearly 100 years ago. Beer is served in paper bags and cocktails out of teacups. You will get the most authentic experience here at The Back Room.
There is so much history and authenticity to these hidden gems, and the the experience you get is both thrilling and unmatchable. We highly suggest checking out a speakeasy when visiting New York City. If you are looking for an extensive opportunity to scope out these underground scenes, book our New York by Night – Rooftop and Speakeasy tour, where you will see the most of New York’s social scene from above all the way down below. Also, if you are interested in finding more to do in New York City, search through our complete range of tours, attractions and activities. We can also tailor-make programs specifically to match your desires and budgets. Harlem Spirituals is the ideal one-stop-shop to simplify your planning! Find more information on www.harlemspirituals.com.
Have you been to a roaring 20s prohibition-themed bar yet? Let us know what you thought!