Best Speakeasies

In the LA-based, 1996 movie, Swingers, the main characters take note of the fact that bars aren’t really cool anymore unless they have no sign and are hidden away in strange places. Well, New York City in 2013-14 isn’t just on board with that; it’s a city showing the rest of the world how the modern speakeasy should be done. Let’s face it, there are so many ways to walk on the wild side, it’s nice to head out for a cocktail and feel like you’re up to something a little bit secretive. Here are our favorite NYC speakeasies in the Lower East Side of NYC, and a few surrounding neighborhoods:

Death & Company
433 E 6th St
Grab a booth or pull up a barstool in this Alphabet City enclave and get swept away in some of the most unique cocktails you’ve ever tasted. The Live Free or Die, for example, contains a wow-inducing combination of bourbon, absinthe, ruby port, cherry liqueur and champagne – divine! The Death & Company mission statement sums up its policy perfectly: “To those who shun the night, we tip our hat. To those who shine after dusk, we offer a warm embrace. Welcome to the new golden age.”

Angel’s Share
8 Stuyvesant St
This East Village hideaway may be concealed sneakily behind a Japanese restaurant, but the word has been out about it for a while, so Angel’s Share is often packed. Don’t let that put you off though — parties are limited to four people and there’s a strict no yelling policy here. The bar itself is classically decorated, with Renaissance-style paintings and wood paneling. Best of all, some of the cocktails have a Japanese twist, to make your evening that much more special.

Raines Law Room
48 W 17th St
This Flatiron basement bar is decorated exactly as men’s-only clubs would’ve been in the 1940s – lots of dim lighting, dark wood, heavy drapes and hefty leather armchairs. It truly is like stepping back in time. Cocktails are served with kettle corn on the side, the table service is excellent and the mixologists are highly skilled. If you are easily flustered, however, don’t get too close to the wallpaper. It may be classic and refined from a distance, but up close it’s incredibly risqué. You have been warned!

9 Doyers St
If you’re one of those people that believe booze is medicinal, then you absolutely must visit the back alley that houses Apothéke. Look for the “Gold Flower Restaurant” (the sign is lying) and head on inside to invest in the beautifully complex cocktails here. The drinks are served up by a bunch of mad scientists (the bartenders here literally wear lab coats) and, while it’s louder than your usual speakeasy, the addition of live music (especially jazz) really takes this Chinatown haven to the next level.


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