Just kidding, secrets are THE BEST! I have to say, for the record, I am an excellent secret-keeper. But, in the interest of this blog and my readers’ own personal journeys within New York City, I will share some of my favorite secrets I’ve found in the past few years, which includes an item on my 28 Things.
I had a few people suggest that I visit certain “speakeasys” as part of my list. These “hidden” bars are often unmarked or marked with a symbol or the tiniest of signs, and are all in the style of what may have been around the city during the 1920s.
The Back Room
Years ago, when I first went to this bar (Norfolk bt Rivington & Delancey), Nicole and I walked by it several times before we realized where it was. We also tried to have Mendy meet us there but he got very confused by our statement of “We’re at the Back Room” thinking that we were in the back room of some other bar where we had been earlier. This reminds me of another confusing conversation when Nicole, Mendy, and I were trying to meet up at the MOMA but I kept thinking they were at the Modern, the bar within the MOMA instead.
This bar is best experienced when you can mooch off of a friend of a friend’s bottle service for which he insists on paying the entire bill. Please note that your clothes will get drenched in alcohol in this bar because the mixed drinks are served in teacups and, at least for me (maybe because I talk with my hands way too much), teacups splash out liquid pretty easily. Also, your toe might be stepped on here and the nail might fall off and you might have to get a fake one put on. (This did not happen to me but to one of my friends and since I’m a great secret-keeper I will not reveal who.)
This is a really cute bar in the West Village (7th Ave & Leroy) where you may find celebrities (such as the former Gossip Girl cast). It is dark and mysterious and down into a basement where you can’t get any phone service so it makes you feel even more old-fashioned when you can’t live tweet about your evening. What you should do at this place instead of ordering your usual drink is to tell the waiter what you typically like and then the bartender will make you something similar but that you’ve probably never tried before. There are also a variety of ice cubes used in different drinks, which seems like a small detail, but is actually quite nice.
There are several other fun speakeasy bars in the city, including Blind Barber, accessible only through the doors of a barber shop and PDT (Please Don’t Tell) accessible only through an old phone booth in Crif Dogs (yum). Sometimes the crowds are a little pretentious but it is really fun to pretend that you are all in on a little “secret” and hiding from the police during prohibition.
#15 Go to Raines Law Room
Brad suggested this specific speakeasy (17th bt and 5th & 6th) so it has been on my mind since May. One of the weekends Jessica was in town in the fall, I met up with her and Aubrey there on a Friday night. We walked down the stairs to a dark door and rang the bell. A gentleman dressed like he worked at Downton Abbey answered the door and told us the wait was two hours, but took our phone number down anyway. We actually went to the Back Room instead to start the evening and never even heard back from fake Mr. Carson (but obviously had an incredible night anyway).
The next time I tried to go, I made sure it was during the week and I made a reservation via email, just in case. There are too many fails and not enough weeks left on this list already. Kater and I went the Monday before my trip and had a fabulous time catching up. The bar was fantastic, it felt as if we were in a rich person’s living room instead of a bar. We took turns pulling the string to light the button that calls the waitress and turning it off after she came to take our orders. We purposely finished our drinks at different times because we wanted to press the button as much as possible and we are obnoxious.
If you find yourself at Raines Law Room on a Monday, there is an amazing gay bar with “Musical Mondays” next door where they just play videos of songs from musicals all night long. And there are some amazing drink specials. I’m actually upset I’m not there right now. Maybe next week.