Oh, the Roaring Twenty! Jazz, flappers, and… Prohibition. The U.S. government, supported by prominent religious groups, banned the sale and production of alcohol between 1920 and 1933. This meant anyone who wanted to drink alcohol in the 1920s had to go underground.
Illicit watering holes sprung up all over America. Patrons had to know a secret password to gain access. These bars were filled with people of all classes and served illegal cocktails.
In the 20s, speakeasies were a common feature of American culture. Although Prohibition has been long overthrown, Americans still love the appeal of a backroom bar. New York City has many stunning bars and a plethora of elegant speakeasies.
Lower East Side Toy Company (The Back Room).
Hidden among the glamour and glitz of Manhattan is The back room. Although it’s not a children’s lounge, the company claims that the lounge is safe for adults.
The bar was once a speakeasy. Few of these bars remain. Patrons were served tea in teacups, and drinks were labeled with paper bags. Although the Back Room is still open, it operates similarly to before but without the risk of being prosecuted.
Employees Only offer a unique mix of a traditional speakeasy setting and a modern cocktail menu. It is a hidden gem in West Village’s quirky West Village. This bar, which was inspired by the 20s, opened in 2004. It is known for its retro cocktails but also serves a unique American menu.
The Employees Only hangout is loved by both locals and tourists alike. This bar is a great choice for people who appreciate elegance in their drinks and the atmosphere. It’s also open every day until 4 AM. You will be disappointed if you don’t make a reservation during peak hours.
Dear Irving is the perfect Prohibition Parlour. It’s a stylish lounge with vintage decor and none of the illegal activities of the Golden Age. Dear Irving has two locations on Gramercy, one on the Hudson. Both are equally elegant.
Dear Irving Gramercy is Prohibition-meets-Paris glamour and almost feels as if you could bump into Hemingway, Fitzgerald, or Joyce. This bar is a luxurious haven that takes care of every detail. Dear Irving Hudson, a bar in the Aliz Hotel featuring a James Bond theme has just opened.
PDT (Please Don’t Tell) is unlikely to be found if you don’t know what to search for. Patrons have to enter Crif Dogs, an East Village hot dog joint. The entrance to the East Village is hidden behind a telephone booth. A hostess will welcome you just as you would in Prohibition.
The narrow bar at the back is made from dark wood and accented by taxidermy. The best thing is that you can order Crif Dogs’ food if you need it.
Chumley’s is the best place for great drinks and even more history. It was one of New York’s most famous speakeasies during the 1920s and became a popular haunt for the literary world even after Prohibition.
Although there is no sign of the Bedford Street building today, it retains its original charm. The main purpose of the building is to serve modern American cuisine. The interior has been beautifully renovated and now features a mix of old and new.
Manhattan Cricket Club
Hidden above Burke and Wills Restaurant is the Manhattan Cricket Club. This speakeasy is a rarity on the Upper West Side. The club is decorated with cricket trophies and another turn-of-the-century decor.
Although the club appears luxurious, members have access to exclusive perks. Each member receives a locker where they can store a bottle of the spirit of their choice. The club offers handcrafted cocktails for all members. It also maintains a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.
Bootlegger Jack’s is a Golden Age parlor with all the puffy couches, patterned wallpaper and pattern wallpaper you would expect. Bootlegger Jack’s is located in Astoria below Uncle Jack’s Meat House. It has all the charm and life of a vintage bar but all the modern conveniences of a 21st-century bar.
Bootlegger Jack’s has a unique food menu and packages available if you wish to rent the space for a party. Ensure your guests that they must enter the lounge via the unisex toilet above.
You may have been to speakeasy bars in the past, but you did know that many Japanese-inspired speakeasies are located in New York City. Karasu is a casual Japanese restaurant and bar modeled after an authentic izakaya.
You’ll be transported to Japan by entering through a backdoor at Walter’s, Fort Greene. There are no tricks to gain entry like at other speakeasies. However, the Asian-themed cocktails and dinner menu will leave you to forget that you don’t need a secret password.
Raines Law Room
Raines Law Room offers snazzy drinks and a touch of humor. This speakeasy, named after a 19th-century law that sought to curb alcohol consumption in New York City, is decorated with a tin ceiling and velvet-covered VIP areas. Raines opened another location at the William Hotel due to increased business.
Raines is a popular spot in Chelsea. It would help if you also rang the doorbell to gain entry. The host will decide who enters this dimly lit lounge.
Sometimes, you need a relaxing drink, not the unruly people’s bustle. Little Branch in Greenwich Village offers that. Even bartenders can be dressed in period-appropriate clothes and must adhere to Prohibition-style behavior rules.
They have a vast knowledge of cocktails and may even be able to create a customized drink for you. The single entrance is at the corner of Seventh Avenue & Leroy Street.