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The Insider's Guide to New York's Most Underground Speakeasies

From Williamsburg to the Upper West Side, the speakeasy craze has taken hold of NYC. Here are some of the best places to enjoy a clandestine cocktail.

Prohibition-style cocktail bars have been the rage for some time now, but finding them can be quite the challenge for the average tourist. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of hidden gems, which offer not just great cocktails, but that special feeling of being an in-the-know patron of the city’s most secretive watering holes.

1. Sakagura, Midtown East

Located in the basement of a nondescript office building, this subterranean sake bar is a great Midtown option with well-priced and delicious tapas to accompany the vast array of drinks on offer the fritters in particular (made up of mashed potato and rice flour dusted with powdered sugar) are perfect to soak up all that sake. Combined with the friendly staff and the menu’s helpful ordering tips, Sakagura is a great place to begin your adventure into the world of speakeasies.

Sakagura is located at 43rd Street between Second and Third Avenues. How to get in: go through the unmarked lobby of 211 E. 43rd Street and head down the stairs.

2. Manhattan Cricket Club, Upper West Side

This swanky Upper West Side Bar is modelled on the gentleman’s clubs of the British colonies. The Cricket Club’s boutique champagne and wine offerings, along with its luxurious decor, could give you the impression that the sun never set on the British Empire.

The Manhattan Cricket Club is located at 79th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam. How to get in: enter through Burke & Wills on street level and you will be guided upstairs.

3. La Milagrosa, Williamsburg

Situated right next door to his popular Mexican spot Cerveceria Havemeyer, Felipe Mendez has created the perfect destination for a pre- or post-taco margarita. One of the best things about this spot is the fresh juice including mango, watermelon and prickly pear used in the mezcal-heavy cocktail list.

La Milagrosa is located at 149 Havemeyer Street in Brooklyn. How to get in: squeeze through a freezer door at the back of a Mexican deli. You must make a reservation in advance (call them here: 718-599-1499).

4. Bathtub Gin, Chelsea

A more traditional Prohibition-style speakeasy, this little gem features a copper bathtub as its centerpiece. The drinks list is exotic and intriguing (the Wakey Juice Joe combines gin, cold brew coffee, falemum, coconut cream, and green matcha), and if you’re lucky you’ll catch some live music during your visit.

Bathtub Gin is located at 132 9th Avenue. How to get in: enter through Stone Street Coffee, which incidentally sells one of the best cappuccinos in Manhattan if you need a little pre-drink caffeine fix.

5. Blind Barber, East Village

This feels like a place for edgy Williamsburg types, but whether you need a haircut or not, it’s definitely worth a visit for anyone who loves a good cocktail. Early evening is the best time to stop by if you’re hoping to snag a seat, and given the Blind Barber’s location on the Lower East Side, there are plenty of other great bars nearby to hop to afterwards.

The Blind Barber is located at 10th Street between Avenues A and B. How to get in: sneak through a door at the back of the barber shop and emerge in a room styled with Eastern European decor.

6. Larry Lawrence, Williamsburg

For friendly bartenders and a neighborhood vibe (albeit a very trendy one), Larry Lawrence is a great option. With its high ceilings, spacious setting, and a short but sweet cocktail list, you’ll be glad you stopped by.

Larry Lawrence is located at 295 Grand Street in Brooklyn. How to get in: behind an unmarked wooden door you’ll see a long corridor. Walk down it and you’ll reach the entrance.

7. Dinnertable, East Village

If none of the above arouse your interest, then behold the reverse speakeasy a restaurant tucked away at the back of a bar. If you visit on a weekend, don’t be put off by the often rowdy crowd when you first enter the restaurant: keep going to the back, where, behind a curtain, you’ll find a cozy and intimate restaurant with a great menu.

Dinnertable is located at 206 Avenue A. How to get in: Proceed to the back of The Garrett cocktail bar, then enter the hallway behind the curtain and ring the bell.

Check out more cocktail bar recommendations here, or for daytime options take a look at these hidden historical landmarks. With Affinia’s three for four deal, the longer you explore, the more you save extend your stay on the cheap so you can enjoy every secret spot the city has to offer.

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