New York’s Best Kept Secret — Speakeasies

Finding it is hard; getting in is harder

In a city as bubbling as New York, it is surprising to discover that there are secret rooms, bars, restaurants, entertainment centers that are hidden from the general masses but are open to very few people who know how to get in. These secret places are called speakeasies.

Hell Phone’s entrance (photo: Yannick Bindert)
Inside of Hell Phone’s (photo: Yannick Bindert)

When the Prohibition act took effect in 1920, a lot of bars were closed down and liquors were sold by druggists for medicinal purposes only. This led to the rise of private bars known as speakeasies and the only way you could enter was by saying the password in a low tone so as not to overheard by law enforcement.

An elite speakeasy in 1920s (Photo credit: Margaret Bourke-White)
An elite speakeasy in the 1920s (Photo credit: Margaret Bourke-White)

Speakeasies are hidden, unmarked or camouflaged. To the untamed eyes, these places are just butcher shops, a burger joint, an old phone booth or even as an art gallery but behind the wall, that butcher shop is a bar slinging the finest cocktails you’ll ever taste or that old phone booth is the entrance to Japanese food menu tasting. It could even be a century old bowling alley in the basement of the Frick Collection on the Upper East Side.

Entrance of Please Don’t Tell
Inside of Please Don’t Tell

The truth is that people love to be let in on a secret and that is why these places are buzzing with people everyday trying to get in. Find a list of speakeasies that you should definitely check out and most importantly how to get in.