What: Two Manhattan speakeasies with two distinct vibes
Who: 2 unwilling victims (aka drunken friends)
Why: In case you don’t know what a speakeasy is, it’s an underground bar that was originally founded during the Prohibition era when drinking was illegal (the horror). Because of their secretiveness, they usually have hidden entrances with dim lighting and original drinks made by “mixologists.” You can only go to so many bro’d out crowded bars and order so many gin and tonics while getting your feet stepped on before you start to itch for something different. Plus, I just got a raise and figured, “Why not blow it on an $18 cocktail just because I can?”
Speakeasy 1: The Back Room Bar
I first went to the Back Room for a friend’s birthday this past winter. After arriving at the address, I was SUPER confused because the bar was nowhere to be found. My friend and I walked up and down the block several times before coming across a wet paper sign that said “Back Room this way” and a shaky arrow into a random alley. Good thing I wasn’t alone or else I would’ve definitely headed straight home.
We snaked through a long alley and arrived at a plain black door and walked into what I can only describe as an old school palace. The place was enormous and very opulent. I wish I had pictures but it was so dark I could barely see the drink in my hand. There was a ton of seating, old-timey music playing and an extensive drink menu. I saw a lot of people drinking out of teacups so I ordered “that drink that comes in the teacup.” I have no idea what it was but I had a blast drinking it. All in all, the atmosphere was classy and super cozy.
Overview Old timey vibe: 9/10: Sadly, there were too many cool hipsters there preventing me from completely traveling back in time to the Prohibition era, but the music and decoration did a great job of bringing you there.
Beverages: 10/10: I definitely loved drinking out of a teacup. I felt like Belle from “Beauty and the Beast.”
Concealed factor: 10/10: I now see why this is called the Back Room — it’s literally set behind several alleyways and an unmarked metal door. It was so well hidden it was almost a little alarming.
Speakeasy 2: Bathtub Gin
Bathtub Gin IS SO HARD TO FIND. I went up and down the block about four times since there is no address outside (again). It’s extremely camouflaged. The outside is a coffee shop and the bar is inside the coffee shop, behind a wall. I had been hearing about this place for a while so I hyped up my friend and dragged her to Chelsea to experience this true speakeasy. Although we didn’t have a reservation, we were able to get a comfy table for two near the front and, with the assistance of our fantastic waitress, ordered our gin centric drinks and an order of fries. Did I mention our waitress was fantastic? She was so nice, super helpful and was great with leading us in the right direction when it came to our drink selection. There’s also a bathtub in the middle of the bar that people were lining up to take pictures in.
Overview Old timey vibe: 9/10: The Chelsea location means a lot of wealthy couples that make you feel bad about your millennial job salary, but the décor is on point, the bathtub is a marvelous touch and there is enough seating for you and 75 of your closest friends.
Beverages: 10/10: I loved the gin centric menu. I don’t even drink gin but I soaked up every drop of my deliciously expensive cocktail.
Concealed factor: 15/10: I’ve actually been here twice — the first time I took my friends we couldn’t find it. We stood outside for 10 minutes trying to find the address and left thinking that the place had been closed. I revisited and walked up and down the block four times. My point exactly.
Consensus: Both are great places to impress out of town friends or when you get a bonus because they are not cheap!
** I would also suggest not going in the bathtub no matter how cute the instagram might be.
Been to a New York City speakeasy? Comment below and share your favorite!