Behind what looks like an art gallery, a tailor, and a psychic in New York City, you’ll find a world of darkened lairs for canoodling, secret rendezvous, and perfectly crafted cocktails. Prohibition may have ended 85 years ago, but cozy speakeasies are still immensely popular. Here’s a look at nine of the best in Manhattan.


offers some of the most creative and complex cocktails in the city behind an unmarked wooden door on a tiny street in Chinatown. The bartenders, dressed in white lab coats, look like mad scientists as they craft tasty cocktails using ingredients in glass bottles such as butternut squash puree and smoked pineapple juice. European apothecaries and absinthe dens inspired the bars decor. Head bartender and sculptor Chris Marshall designs much of the cocktail list, focusing just as much on presentation as taste. Siren’s Call (gin, roasted seaweed, cucumber, squid ink, ginger) comes with a chocolate pearl in an oyster shell. A feather tops off the Huntsman (scotch with duck fat, fresh fig, chocolate, balsamic vinegar glaze, scotch mist). No reservations are accepted, so come early to claim one of the seven arrangements of couches and chairs or hang at the bar to watch the magic being made.

Apotheke Cocktail Bar Apotheke-Cocktail-Bar-2


is a lovely little spot hidden behind a small art gallery. For a livelier scene, go on the weekends for live DJ sets. Some Sundays feature live music brought in by bartender Elad, who energetically and effortlessly shakes two cocktails at the same time. The Fig. 19 Blackberry Margarita (jalapeno infused tequila, blackberry puree, lime, angostura bitters) is creamy and memorable, and chocolate shavings are the perfect complement for Midnight in Paris (tequila, ginger syrup, bitter cocoa liqueur, lemon, mole bitters).

BarTender_1 Bar Tenders

is the place if you’re seeking a truly hidden bar. You’re in the right location if you spot M & H Tailor and Alterations printed on the window. In the age of knowing everything in advance thanks to the internet, the bar has no website, no phone and not even a menu. Tell the bartenders how you’re feeling or what you’re thinking, and they match your mood to one of their immense catalogue of drinks, stored in their brains. The Banana Hammock is a version of a Mai Tai, served in a chilled ceramic skull with a metal straw. The no-frills bill comes on an index card.

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is another bar that thrives despite no website. It’s been around for 25 years, but it’s still full almost any time you visit. Walk upstairs into a Japanese restaurant and the friendly servers will point you to the right door if you look confused. Inside, jazz is playing and candles flicker in two intimate rooms overlooking the street. The moo d is serene and relaxing, with a beautiful mural above the bar, watching over the focused mixologists making every cocktail with precision.

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is a gorgeous speakeasy filled with plush couches, sheer curtains and amorous couples. Walk down a few stairs, ring the bell and get past the door person, sometimes not the easiest task on busy nights. You can leave your cell phone number if it’s too crowded and you’ll get a text to return when there’s space. The bar takes reservations Sunday-Tuesday, but not the rest of the week. The cocktail list is formidable, divided into categories including Stirred & Strong, Island Time and Late Harvest. When you’ve pawed through it, pull a tiny chain near your table to alert the waitress. Try the Hat in Hand (rum, cognac, banana liqueur, angostura bitters) served on a giant ice cube or Crimson Fix (gin, aperol, lemon, blood orange) which comes on crushed ice.

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was a real speakeasy during Prohibition and honors its history by serving all drinks in tea cups. Look for the toy company sign and head down an alley to find the bar, the same entrance used for secret drinking decades ago. Go on Mondays for live jazz, which makes an already sultry 1920’s-style space even more welcoming. The Bees Knees (vodka, honey and ginger liqueurs, lemon, orange juice) is strong enough to kill a cold or just warm up your night.

The backroom

stands for Please Don’t Tell, and honestly, please don’t tell anyone else, because this place is already packed enough. Call for same day reservations but seats are limited, only 13 at the bar and six tables, with no standing allowed. You would never know there’s a bar inside the hotdog joint, Crif Dogs, unless you’re in the know, or ask why people keep stepping into a phone booth. That’s where you’re instructed to pick up the phone and dial, but only once. Then the door pops open and you’re ushered into a tiny room filled with taxidermy. Gourmet versions of Crif dogs are available, alongside tater tots and fries. They’ll help soak up the considerable alcohol in concoctions like Shark (two types of rum, Frangelico, blue curacao, lemon and pineapple juice, cream, Bittermens bitters) and Shrunken Squash (brandy, rum, cream sherry, pimento dram, lime and grapefruit juice, honeynut squash).


is no secret, widely regarded by those in the industry as one of the best bars in New York City, and even the country, for high-end cocktails. It’s been open since 2006. There’s a no reservations policy, which means arrive early. The craft cocktail list changes twice a year and the drinks are so good, the bar put out its own recipe book.


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