New York Life

New York Favourites: Secret Bars

July 17, 2015
new york favourites: secret bars in new york

new york favourites: secret bars in new york

It’s (finally!) time for the next installment of my New York favourites. I’ve already shared (and updated!) my favourite things to do for free in New York and my favourite places for brunch in New York. Now it’s time to share my favourite secret bars/speakeasy’s.

New York has no shortage of secret bars. I’ve been to 5 so far, and they were all just as amazing as the each other. In my first 7 months I only managed to make it to 2 of these bars. In the space of 2 days I managed to add another 3 to the list, thanks to a friend who was visiting from Scotland. He likes to rate cities on the quality of their secret bars and he definitely did not leave New York disappointed.

I love secret bars because the drinks are always so so good (you can expect to pay around $15+ per drink in these places), going to them is an experience in itself and it’s real New York!! When I say real New York I mean they’re not the typical spots people think of going to when they visit, so you’re getting a more authentic experience of life in New York.

Anywho, here’s the list of my favourite secret bars in New York…

1. Employees Only

As you would expect, from the outside none of these secret bars look like your regular bar. Employees Only, in the West Village, is the prime example. From the outside you will think it’s a psychic shop… and it is! Right inside the door you can have your palm read, step behind a curtain and you walk into one of the best secret bars in town.

The cocktails here are amazing (see the pic on the bottom right above)! Whether you order from their menu of speciality cocktails or just tell one of the bartenders (who apparently have to  at least 10 years bar experience to work here!!) what you feel like (vodka, whiskey, gin – fruity, bitter, whatever), you’re guaranteed to get one of the best cocktails you’ll ever taste. You can get food here too! I’ve only had the french fries (they were gooood) but apparently the food is top notch.

2. Please Don’t Tell

Please Don’t Tell (or PDT for short) takes it’s secretness to a whole new level. I’d been in bars right beside it so many times and never even suspected this place here. It’s hidden in a hot dog shop on St. Mark’s Place. In the shop you’ll see a telephone booth. Walking in, pick up the phone and dial once… this is the bell for the bar. Someone will open the door and tell you how long it will be until they have an availability.

I think this place always has a bit of a wait (it’s small)… but it’s worth it!!! We went on a Tuesday night at the start of May and were told come back in an hour (on a random Tuesday!!). Like I said though, it was totally worth it. The whole experience is a complete novelty and the drinks, as you would expect, are amazing!!!

3. Death & Co.

While were waiting for PDT, we killed the hour by making a trip to Death & Co. in the Lower East Side (not bad way to kill some time). It’s only 2 blocks away from PDT, so you can easily do both in the same night.

This place comes with some serious reviews and they are all 100% right. I know I keep saying amazing… but the drinks really were. My friend who was visiting loved his drink so much, he had to squeeze in a second one before we headed back to PDT.

The decor is also FAB!!! Very sleek and black, with chandelier’s (see the pic on the bottom left above). If you’re trying to find this place be sure to look down. The name is engraved on the pavement!

4. Little Branch

This is the ultimate speakeasy. Tell the barman or your server exactly what you feel like, and you will get one of the best drinks of your life (big statement I know!!).

From the outside, this West Village place looks like absolutely nothing. It’s a graffiti covered brick wall with a door, but do not be fooled. Once you get in, head downstairs into one of the coolest and best hidden spots in New York, where all the barmen sport a speakeasy style moustache and wear braces to hold up their trousers. 100% speakeasyness!

5. Middle Branch

A sister bar of Little Branch, middle branch is located in midtown (in Murray Hill), hence the name “middle” (well I’m guessing that’s it!). As with every secret bar, the drinks are on point and they’ll whip up whatever you feel like. This place is more of a hidden bar in the winter. In the summer the front windows are open, but it’s still cool.

There’s two levels here. Downstairs you can stand at high tables, but if you can try to get upstairs for table service and some cool surroundings.


I still have an endless amount of these secret bars to try out. I’m slowly making my way through them and I’ll be sure to update as I do.

Let me know if you try any of these if you’re in New York,

Lorna x

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