From secret bars in the back of burger joints to subterranean sake dens, we’ve tracked down some of the city’s most well-hidden watering holes.
Gallow Green and The Lodge at Gallow Green
The McKittrick Hotel is best known as the home of the popular interactive show Sleep No More, but head to the roof and you'll discover a secret oasis. In the warmer months Gallow Green greets guests with plant-covered trellises, bushes bedecked in fairy lights and 360 degree views of the city. Come fall and winter, the space transforms into The Lodge at Gallow Green, a rustic cabin-like bar with bunk beds, shelves lined with antique books and maps and an outdoor patio with a fire for cozying around.
The Back Room Bar
The Back Room Bar is easy to miss and for good reason—it's one of the few bars open today that actually operated during prohibition. To find the glamorous spot, look for the sign that reads "Lower East Side Toy Company," then head down the stairs and along a dark alley. The reward is a sultry, 1920s-style space decorated with red velvet couches, tin ceilings, velvet paisley wallpaper, and a massive fireplace. In keeping with the speakeasy theme, booze is served in teacups and beer in brown paper bags. The hidden bar theme goes one layer deeper here with a secret Back Room behind a bookcase, though access is granted by invitation only.
A neon sign that reads “Psychic” tips off passersby to this West Village bar and restaurant, which has been turning out award-winning libations since 2004. The cozy, Art Deco interiors are heavy on wood and brass, and the little tables along the bar are perfect for settling in for conversation over drinks like the "Billionaire Cocktail," which is Baker's Bourbon shaken with fresh lemon juice, absinthe bitters, and the house grenadine. The scene gets rowdy late night and there's a killer after dark menu, which serves addictive bone marrow poppers.
At the back of the West Village outpost of the Five Guys burger chain and up a flight of stairs, you'll find the Garret, a cozy second-floor hideaway with a large skylight and shimmering chandelier. The bartenders whip up classic cocktails and house originals like "Hey Girl," made with mezcal, fraise de bois, elderflower liqueur, prosecco, and strawberries.
Hidden down a flight of stairs and along a basement corridor in Midtown, the subterranean Sakagura happens to be one of the finest sake bars in the U.S. Over 200 varieties of the rice wine are on offer, as well as delicious homemade soba noodles and tapas-style Japanese dishes, all served in a serene dining room done up in blond woods.
The entrance to this saloon is hidden behind an old phone booth at Crif Dogs in the East Village—visitors pick up the receiver and a host opens the back wall of the booth. What you'll find behind the doors: a cool and cozy bar, with low ceilings, dark wood, exposed brick, and the occasional piece of taxidermy. Don't leave without sampling the Benton's Old Fashioned made with bacon-infused bourbon and, when hunger strikes, order up a frank from the full Crif Dogs menu.
Behind the unmarked, unlit doors of a Hell’s Kitchen brownstone, Bar Centrale is a favorite of the Broadway set for post-curtain cocktails and classic nibbles like shrimp cocktail, deviled eggs, and oysters. Opened by longtime restaurateur Joe Allen, whose eponymous eatery is next door, the vibe is sophisticated, hip, and ideal for the occasional celeb sighting.
Raines Law Room at The William
A sister speakeasy to the Raines Law Room in Chelsea, the outpost at The William Hotel is accessed via the stairs at the back of the Shakespeare Pub on the lower level. The swanky space has cozy banquettes, bookshelves lined with leather-bound tomes, and a marble fireplace, and guests can also tailor make an Old Fashioned, picking their choice of bitters, spirit, and sweeteners from the bar's cocktail menu.
The Blind Barber
Walk through this old-fashioned barbershop in the East Village and you'll find a bar serving cocktails with cheeky names like "The Sweeney Ted," mixed from Jameson Black Barrel, lemon, honey, egg white, and Creole bitters. Pair it with a slice of gourmet pizza, like the "Tartufata" with fresh mozzarella, truffle sauce, mushrooms, and speck and then go for a quick shave and a haircut up front (yes, they do that, too.)