New York’s Secret Bar Scene

Blair Pfander
New York’s Secret Bar Scene
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It happens all the time in the movies—some sexy heroine pushes through a bookshelf to discover a secret speakeasy, complete with smoking city-slickers and hard-boozing gangsters.
But secret bars are very much a reality in New York City (minus the mafia undertones and plus some seriously good-looking patrons). For example, entry to PDT, one of the East Village’s coolest, under-the-radar bars, is through an old phone-booth in St.Marks hot dog joint, Crif Dogs.
With top-notch cocktail menus and some of the best bar food in the city, no wonder we couldn’t keep these secret watering holes to ourselves.
Do you know any secret NYC drinking spots? Tell us below.

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The moody Raines Law Room in Chelsea is designed to evoke a Prohibition-era speakeasy, with Chesterfield sofas and antiques covering the walls. Expertly-mixed cocktails like the Fort Knox (a bourbon, lemon and maple confection) or the Old Cuban (rum, champagne, and lime) will have you feeling like an extra on Boardwalk Empire in no time. 48 West 17th Street, Manhattan;


An unmarked wood door between the Greenpoint Gazette office and a hardware store makes Brooklyn's No Name Bar an easy spot to miss. Which would be a crying shame, considering this narrow watering hole—which boasts a "secret" noodle bar downstairs—is one of the best in Greenpoint, with cozy burlap-covered walls and an expansive backyard for summertime mingling. 597 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn.

Photo: Brownstoner/Brownstoner

Located on the second floor above Lower East Side establishment, Barramundi, the aptly-named Second Floor on Clinton can be reached by pushing a bell—marked "private"—all the way at the back. Once inside, you'll think you've been transported to an gentleman's English estate—but with a better cocktail menu. 67 Clinton St, Manhattan;

Photo: 2nd Floor on Clinton/2nd Floor on Clinton

Accessible only via a red-doored elevator, the Submercer—located beneath Soho's posh Mercer Hotel—is among Manhattan's coolest under-the-radar drinking establishments, with a cozy, brick-walled "dungeon" vibe and, yes, a stripper pole. 147 Mercer Street, Manhattan;

Photo: The Mercer Hotel/The Mercer Hotel

The Back Room speakeasy is located behind an old toy store facade. But the interior is anything but child's play, with a roaring fireplace, velvet paisley wallpaper, tin ceilings and Victorian-era antiques. To complete the bootlegger-era picture, all drinks are served in porcelain teacups. 102 Norfolk St, Manhattan.


Located over a liquor store on Avenue B in the East Village, it's easy to miss White Noise, a moody, red-lit watering hole with a flare for classic rock n' roll. Black curtains and edgy leather furniture complete the goth-bar effect, while the “Weirdo Room”—a small nook with a chair facing a television playing static—adds a touch of the surreal.
225 Avenue B, Manhattan;

Photo: White Noise/White Noise

Tucked on the second floor of Hotel Stanford in Koreatown, Est 1986 is a sexily-appointed wine bar and martini lounge, with a short—but terrific—selection of expert cocktails along with romantic pink lighting and atmosphere to spare. 43 W 32nd Street, Manhattan;

Photo: Est 1986/Est 1986

The long line outside of Stone Street Coffee Company is the only hint that hotspot, Bathtub Gin, lurks inside. With a giant copper bathtub smack in the center of the bar, all available cocktails pre-date the bathtub brewing era, like Martinez—a predecessor of the Martini. Decadent bar food including ricotta gnocchi and fried oysters will ensure you leave feeling satisfied. 132 Ninth Avenue, Manhattan;

Photo: Bathtub Gin/Bathtub Gin

Milk & Honey may be the only exclusive nightclub in New York that specifically prohibits famous folks—only laypersons can gain access to the candlelit lounge (applications as well as reservations are required for entry), which features a four-seat bar as well as a curated cocktail menu that boasts seasonal knockouts like blood orange screwdrivers. 134 Eldridge Street, Manhattan;

Photo: Grub Street/Grub Street

PDT—or "Please Don't Tell"—is tucked behind a secret phone booth inside East Village eatery, Crif Dogs, giving it a magical, children's-novel appeal. One inside this secret bar you'll be grateful that you can order burgers and waffle fries directly from the restaurant, which pair surprisingly well with a crisp martini. 113 St. Marks Place, Manhattan;

Photo: PDT/PDT

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