Everything about Speakeasies bars in New York City
Have you heard about speakeasy? It’s a term used to refer to certain bars here in New York. This is a theme that many readers have already asked me to write, but I thought it would be best to invite someone who really understands the subject. That’s why today’s guest is Anna Gaby, who lives here in New York. We met through a friend and when I found out she loved speakeasy, I invited her to write for the blog. If you do not know what I’m talking about, keep reading the post …
New York is a place that surprises us. It surprises in its skylines, possibilities, diversity and certainly surprises in the number of extraordinary restaurants and bars. When I arrived in New York, I wanted to visit all the places! Over time, you realize that in order to know all the places in New York you need to have at least eighteen lives. So, because you can not have it all, I decided to focus on the bars that most captivated me in this Big Apple, the famous speakeasies.
I still remember the first time that my husband, then boyfriend, took me to this kind of bar. He told me he was going to take me to dinner at a Mexican place he loved. I got ready for the date and was all excited when suddenly he stops in front of a kiosk of tacos, quite simple. I love tacos, but I was all dressed up, with makeup, so I looked at him and said “you got to be kidding me!” He laughed and pretended not to hear me, went into the kiosk, spoke to a guy and suddenly, a door opened. My boyfriend came in and I followed him. I was finding it all very weird when I saw myself passing by a kitchen with some people cooking and down a ladder going to a basement. I thought, “Now we have to take out the trash.” But to my surprise, I came to the most amazing restaurant-bar I’ve ever been to. With Dj, celebrities, beautiful people, extraordinary food, and wonderful drinks! And so, my passion was born for these hidden bars known as speakeasies.
Speakeasy bars originally referred to illicit drink houses during the Prohibition era (1920-1933) in the United States. At that time, it was illegal to sell and consume alcohol – so people began to serve alcohol behind closed doors in discrete places, often known by few people. These people usually used a code to enter. Therefore, “Speakeasy” is any bar that has been modeled on the Prohibition era, thus being hidden bars.
Because they are hidden bars, tourists generally do not know these places. What makes it even more interesting for a tourist to know, get out of Times Square and Brooklyn Bridge and go live with the locals. And in my opinion, there’s nothing more New York than a “speakeasy.” A trendy place, mysterious, full of charm and quality.
Below, I list five speakeasies that I love:
- La Esquina: This dwells in my heart. It was the first speakeasy I’ve ever known and it’s the place I told you right up there. The food is Mexican and excellent! We have to order a margarita too! But actually, any drink is good at this bar. The Dj is always sensational and is a great place to start or finish your evening. It’s always packed so I suggest you make reservations! Address: 114 Kenmare St.
- Beauty and Essex: In the heart of the Lower East Side, this is already better known, but it is also hidden! The entrance is a simple pawn shop, but when you enter it is a spectacular restaurant and still has the second floor with a dance floor! Like all speakeasy, the food at this restaurant is wonderful! However, you will never imagine that the best of this place is the bathroom. The bathroom is full of charm and they serve champagne! That’s right, glamorous! Address: 146 Essex St.
- The Back Room: This bar has existed since the Prohibition era! It was the favorite of the gangsters from the 20s. Needless to say, the drinks are great, but the interesting thing is they are all served in teacups! One is more charming than the other. Great for a date, since it’s a half light bar, so everyone looks beautiful! Address: 102 Norfolk St.
- Please Don’t Tell: Also known as PDT, one of my favorites! This bar, in fact, is inside another bar, which is very famous for its hot dogs. So by going there you can already do two very New York things: eat a hot dog and go to a speakeasy bar. The entrance is a vintage English telephone booth inside the Crif Dogs bar. Enter the booth and press the bell only once (not two, not three, just one) and hit! The problem is that, because it is wonderful, it is ALWAYS full and they do not take reservations, but they have waiting lists if you have the time and patience to wait. Address: 113 St Marks Pl.
- Employees Only: To find this place, look for a neon sign of a tarot reader and enter! On busy days, you will see a queue outside. This speakeasy is my husband’s favorite, he loves the New York ribeye from there. The menu of this restaurant is a must, as well as, as always, the great drinks. After getting out of a sensational night out, why not try your luck on a hand reading or tarot? Great for going with friends, this bar is guaranteed fun. Address: 510 Hudson St.
Well, these are my five favorites ones but know that there are thousands of speakeasies scattered throughout this city and around the world, as several countries have embraced this idea. You can also check out The Law Room, B Flat, Little Branch, The Garret, among many others hidden away. Enjoy!
Thank you Gaby for this AMAZING post!