Posts Tagged ‘speakeasy’

Is Alphabet City the New Nolita of Nightlife?

May 6, 2010

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As more and more interesting, under-the-radar restaurants and bars with artisanal drinks find their way into alphabet city, this part of the city might just become the new Nolita of nightlife. A reader just passed along this Gothamist post about Cienfuegos, a new cuban-themed speakeasy that can be found via a secret entrance in an East Sixth Street sandwich shop. The specialty is a variety of rum punches. While I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, there are some big names associated with this joint, including the teams behind Mayaheul and Death & Co. as well Charolotte Voisey from Rose Bar and The Eldridge. From the sound of it and the cool look from the Gothamist photos, this place might just replace PDT as my number one drink spot in NYC.

via Gothamist

95 Avenue A near 6th St.
Enter through Carteles Sandwich Shop on 443 E. 6th St.

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Have Your People Call My People And We’ll Do Drinks

April 18, 2010

According to this Wall Street Journal article, the quality of the cocktail declined significantly during the Prohibition era. Americans imbibed more as an act of rebellion and for quick intoxication rather than for the appreciation of the drink itself. It’s ironic then, that many of the best cocktails in the city can be found within the confines of a speakeasy-like hideout. Despite the irony, however, my top nine places listed below not only serve high quality and inventive libations, they each provide an intimate atmosphere where you can admire great craftsmanship while bonding with friends or a date. Because what better way to bond with someone than by sharing a rebellious secret – even if it’s an open secret?

9. The Back Room:

It’s best to hit this place up during the week or early in the night when it isn’t crowded.  The drinks are served in teacups and the beers are served in paper bags like during Prohibition times.

How To Get There: 102 Norfolk St. near Delancey…

…Find the little (and by little I mean tiny) gate with the sign that says “Lower East Side Toy Company”, go down a few steps, cross the alley and up some metal steps where the bouncer awaits.

8. The Randolph at Broome:

This is a no frills, understated type of bar. While it may not provide the most romantic ambiance, it’s a great place to hang out with friends and try some of Matty Gee’s creative concoctions.

How To Get There: 349 Broome between Bowery and Elizabeth…

…The entrance is pretty non-descript, but there is a bouncer stationed outside after about midnight.

7. Death & Co:

The drinks are imaginative and the menu presentation is playful. The spirits are divided into cocktails that are stirred and those that are shaken; there is an offering of flips, punches to share with friends and even a multiple choice selection.

How To Get There: 433 E. 6th St between 1st and Avenue A…

…While this place isn’t one of those super secret spots, it closes on the earlier side (by 1 a.m. on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends) and can get full quickly – so head over earlier than later.

6. Milk and Honey:

Super private and super quiet. Supposedly this place is members only these days, but the old find-the-secret-number method still works. The drinks are completely customized to your taste. Start by telling the bartender which type of liquor you’d like and then prepare to experience magic.

How to Get There: 134 Eldridge Street between Broome and Delancey…

… There might be numbers on the door but I’m not sure (my recollection is a bit fuzzy). Just look for a grey door with a buzzer next to it on the east side of the street.

5. Apothéke:

Housed in a former opium den in an unsuspecting corner of Chinatown, finding this place can be a bit intimidating. But trust me, it is totally worth it. Though the place comes off as a little gimmicky with the whole apothecary theme, the elixirs are still spectacularly creative and crowd-pleasing. The barman also puts on a great show by serving up smoking drinks and by lighting the bar on fire.

How To Get There: 9 Doyer Street near Pell Street…

…Doyer Street bends around and Apothéke is located in the center of the bend. Look for a bouncer standing on the stoop.

4. Flatiron Lounge:

The drinks on this menu are rotating and seasonal but there are a few originals and classics they offer year-round. For one of their originals try the Juniper Breeze. Among their classic offerings, I adore the French 75.

How To Get There: 37 West 19th Street between 5th and 6th

…Flatiron Lounge can get really crowded, even during the weekdays. Plan on having a drink at the bar before they can seat you.

3. Angel’s Share:

Be warned: the drinks here are strong and delicious: a dangerous combination. My favorites are the Quintessence and the Stormy Weather. Also, they don’t allow parties over four people. Try to get a seat in the back where the ambience is even more intimate.

How to Get There: 8 Stuyvesant Street between 2nd and 3rd

…go to the 2nd floor – yes you are in a Japanese restaurant. Find the unmarked door to the left when you are at the top of the staircase. Or just ask one of the waiters.

2. Summit Bar:

Housed in the former Barazza space, Summit bar is relatively under the radar – at least it was before New York magazine outed this gem. Try and get a piece of the corner seat in the back. When the weather is warm, they offer outdoor seating as well.

How To Get There: 133 Avenue C between 8th and 9th

…Tucked away on Louisada, the front is all glass and lined with Venetian blinds

1. PDT:

The ambiance is really cozy and though its great to catch up with a friend or get to know a date, you can hear your neighbor’s conversation so don’t plan on revealing your darkest secret here. If you are scared of flips (the raw egg factor can be intimidating the first time around), face your fears and try the Black Flip. It tastes like a rich chocolate milk shake with an adult twist.

How To Get There: 113 St. Marks Pl. between 1st and Avenue A…

…Enter through Crif Dog’s, turn into the telephone booth on left, pick up the receiver and push the button underneath. Someone will open the door and take a reservation since there will probably be a wait. Have a drink at Death & Co. while you wait.

Places to Avoid:

While these three places also have sophisticated and premium cocktails, I tend to avoid them for the logistical reasons given below.

Employees Only: This place is always packed and there’s hardly any comfortable standing room or space by the bar. It’s hard to enjoy your beverage when you are constantly shifting around so that you don’t feel awkwardly in the way.

Minetta Tavern: Again, the bar is small and crowded and they don’t do tables if you are only having drinks. Instead, enjoy a cocktail or two here before a meal (though good luck finding much vegetarian fare).

The Raines Law Room: I only went to this place once and it was filled with couples. While there’s nothing wrong with that picture alone, the sofas were arranged so that they were facing each other. Thus, one couple would be uncomfortably sitting across from another couple while they were trying to have a private moment. Additionally, there was a distinct garbage-like smell emanating from an indiscernible direction.