Planning a trip to New York and want to find out where the locals drink? Looking to get off the beaten path, away from the main tourist areas and discover yourself in a rum-filled speakeasy? This is the guide for you. Behold, 13 of the best unique, hidden, weird and wonderful bars in New York. These are the spots you have to visit.
1. Angel’s Share
In the East Village you’ll find one of the best whiskey bars in New York, a place called Angel’s Share. This place is Asian-inspired, which is hardly surprising given it sits atop Japanese restaurant, Village Yokocho. A trip here will see you pushing through an unmarked side door and unearthing an unexpected, wonderful, classy spot to lose a few hours. You’ll also find awesome views of Stuyvesant Square and a list of exceptional cocktails.
2. Please Don’t Tell
It has to be one of the most famous ‘hidden’ bars in New York, the ” used because a lot of people know about it but it’s still really, really cool. How do you find it? Visit late-night hotdog spot, Crif Dogs, then pick up the phone in the phone booth inside the shop. What happens next? You’ll have to go to find out. There’s a no-standing policy inside, so you’ll need to book (early!) to secure yourself a spot. The cocktail list here is unique and wonderful and when you get hungry, you can have food from Crif Dogs delivered to your table.
3. 67 Orange Street
Located in Harlem, 67 Orange Street is a feast for the senses. The windows are dressed with heavy curtains, but don’t let those put you off. Push through the front doors and you’ll find a hive of activity. Cocktails, music and great food await. If you’re feeling hungry, the lobster & shrimp mac n cheese here is famous. If you’re feeling thirsty, work your way through the cocktail list or have one of the bartenders custom make you a drink, depending on what you feel like.
4. Little Branch
Make your way to the West Village, to basement bar, Little Branch. Find an unmarked metal door and push through it uncover one heck of a speakeasy. This place prides itself on its mixology, so tell the bartenders what you fancy and they’ll whip you up a bespoke cocktail (or five). Thursday to Sunday the place comes alive with jazz music and it’s cash-only, so don’t show up with your credit card, ready to max it out. Authentic, low-key speakeasy’s don’t come much better than Little Branch.
5. B Flat
Love live jazz? Visit this super cool hidden bar in TriBeCa; B Flat. How do you ind it? Look for the small chalkboard outside, listing the happy hour specials for the day. There will be a plain door close-by, that’s you’re entry point. Food on offer is American-Japanese style and the Teriyaki Beef Burger and Cha-Shu Burger are must-try menu items. Visit Mondays and Wednesdays for live jazz performances or any day for classic cocktails and unique creations. Hot tip: Happy Hour is 5 – 7pm Monday to Saturday. Be there.
6. Blind Barber
The name ‘Blind Barber’ is actually a pretty clever name, given this place is a barbershop and a speakeasy! Barbers gettin blind! This place in the East Village comes alive in the evenings, Tuesday to Saturday, with absolutely wild dance parties. They vibe here is really fun and laid back, while the cocktail list hosts classic favourites and some really cool seasonal and house cocktails, like the Sweeney Ted. If you get hungry, they serve pizzas. Brilliant.
7. Death & Co.
A favourite in New York, Death & Co. can be found by looking for a storefront on East 6th Street with wooden panels, in place of windows, and the words ‘Death & Co.’ shaped in metal letters on the concrete. Yep, on the pavement, not in the window. To get in you’ll need to give the bouncer your number and wait for a call back. Inside, you’ll discover an exciting list of cocktails from the classic to the unusual and a snack menu which includes treats like crispy fries, truffle mac and fristkets.
As the name suggests, the vibe at this place is straight up chemist-style. Bartenders in white lab coats will mix you up your own personalised drink, prepared with local and organic produce or sourced from their rooftop herb garden. So cool! The cocktails here are totally unique and unlike anything else you’ve tried before. The decor is always pretty dang awesome! Follow your cocktails up with a snack from the seasonal bar menu.
9. The Garret
Find your way to Five Guys Burgers in the West Village. Above this you’ll find second-floor bar, The Garret. It’s the perfect spot to start early and watch the sunset, as it has a really cool sunroof. This place is old-school cool, with dark wood and great views out onto the street below. Work your way through their cocktail list then order a burger from Five Guys, downstairs. Perfect! Hot tip: they also have a location in the East Village.
On the Lower East Side, hidden underneath Schapiro’s, you’ll find Nitecap. Gold script on red brick will be the sign you’re looking for. This place is a whole lot of low-key fun and comes from the team behind Death & Co, so you know it’s gonna be great. Everything about this place is fun, including the decor and menus. The cocktail menu is extensive, listing everything from Aperitif and Spritz to …. stuff I didn’t even know existed! It’s definitely a New York must-do.
11. Employees Only
Look for a glowing red sign that says ‘Psychic’ and you’ll have found unique New York spot, Employees Only. It isn’t just a sign, there’s a tarot card and palm reader close-by, should you need to see your future. (Hint: it involves booze). This is the place to try Employees Only classic cocktails, like a Manhattan and the infamous Billionaires Cocktail. If you’re hungry they have a dinner and late-night menu, but it’s the dessert here that should not be missed.
12. Bathtub Gin
This place is absolutely wild. Find the Stone Street Coffee Company on 9th Avenue, tucked behind it is Bathtub Gin. There really is an actual bath tub in the middle of the bar and if you drink enough gin, which you definitely will, you’ll find yourself in the bathtub before the night is over. Bathtub Gin has a strong 1920-1930’s influence that’s really enjoyable, with a smoky, old-word feel to it. Try as many gin cocktails as you like, then feast on their absolutely delicious dinner menu.
Cienfuegos is proudly home to all things Cuban; from excellent food to crazy-good cocktails. Happy Hour happens from 5pm to 7pm Monday to Saturday, which is definitely the time to be there. The punch bowls here are famous and not to be missed! To find it, look for bar ‘Mother of Pearl’. Cienfuegos is right next door, on the second floor. It’s all things bright, fun, indulgent and delicious. Don’t miss out!
Phoebe Lee is a writer, award-winning blogger and travel lover sharing helpful travel tips, insight and reviews for regular people. Follow her adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.