The Secret Is Out: The Best Speakeasy Bars in New York

The roaring ‘20s are here once again. Well, sort of. Alcohol is legal and, unlike the 1920s instead of just coming out of a world war and a pandemic, we’ve managed to survive just the latter.

Yet somehow, the New York City cocktail bar scene has gone underground. Both literally and figuratively. The speakeasy cocktail bar craze is in full swing in the Big Apple. That freshly opened old-school-looking hardware store in your neighborhood? Go through the secret door in the back of the “shop” and you’ll be handed a screwdriver to drink rather than repair something. That new third-wave coffee shop? Nope. The secret door inside will lead you to an espresso martini instead.

Speakeasy culture is alive and kicking. We share the best speakeasy bars in NYC. Photo credit: Name Name

Of course, there were hidden bars lurking in New York before the pandemic—PDT, Little Branch, The Back Room, Bathtub Gin, to name a few classics that still exist. But in the last year or so, the cocktail landscape of New York City has gone decidedly secret.

Here are the best pandemic-era speakeasy-style cocktail bars in New York City—if you can find the door.

Apotheke Nomad

An offshoot of the original Apotheke on curving Doyers Street in Chinatown, Apotheke Nomad started shaking up cocktails in July 2022. The emphasis here is on healthy ingredients, hence the pharmacy name. You can sip here vodka, gin, whisky, mezcal, and rum libations infused with garden-to-glass items like blue spirulina, jicama, dandelion root, and other herbs. Many of which are grown on the rooftop. The basement bar is located on West 26th Street near Fifth Avenue and its entrance is an unmarked door. Good luck!

The Cactus Shop

There isn’t really anything too secretive about this Williamsburg restaurant and bar. Except if you come here during the day when you’ll really encounter its namesake: an actual cactus shop. When the sun starts to set, though, the cactuses might become nopales for dishes and glasses. That’s because The Cactus Shop slyly transforms into a Mexican bistro and bar. Sip a margarita, graze on a taco or quesadilla and feel muy feliz you found this place.

The Cactus Shop offers an authentic Mexican cantina vibe. Photo credit: Name Name


Albert Trummer, one of the founders of the original Apotheke, is the mixologist behind Dom which opened in early 2022. There’s a big emphasis on botanicals and booze with the drink menu separated into categories like “Aphrodisiacs,” “Stress Relievers,” and “Health and Beauty,” among others. The focus is on aperitif cocktails so we recommend coming early.

Dom Lounge is re-envisioning classic cocktails. Photo credit: Osvaldo Romito

Keys & Heels

The facade of Keys & Heels, located on the Upper East Side, reveals that it’s a locksmith and shoe repair shop that’s been open since 1971. But if you came to have your apartment key copied or your favorite shoes resoled, you’ll be sorely disappointed. If you find the secret door inside and you happen to be thirsty for, say, a dirty martini or a Manhattan, you’ve actually come to the right place. Once inside, the Art Deco interior makes for a perfect venue to sip a $19 cocktail.

99 Franklin

This Greenpoint, Brooklyn speakeasy-style spot is fronted by a third-wave coffee shop that at night mischievously metamorphosizes into a tropical-themed cocktail bar. Boozy concoctions are on the slightly cheaper side here—$14 to $16—and the food menu was designed for snacking with truffle fries, hot-honey popcorn chicken, tater tots, and a truffle-loaded grilled cheese sandwich, being the early standouts at 99 Franklin.

99 Franklin is an espresso bar by bay and NYC speakeasy by night. Photo credit: Live on Shot

Nothing Really Matters

In the 50th Street subway station (between the stairs from the street and the turnstile), you may not notice the unmarked door when rushing to the 1 train. But when that door happens to swing open, the colorful backlit bar will beckon you inside for a high-quality cocktail. Nothing Really Matters isn’t really a speakeasy-style bar but it has enough “secret” vibe to fit right in here. Named for a line in Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, the bar first opened at the end of 2021. This isn’t the only new secretive bar in a subway station: last year La Noxe opened up in the 28th Street subway station— both bars are connected by the 1 train.


You might stroll past a specialty food shop at Spring and Hudson Streets in west SoHo called Pine & Polk and think nothing of it. But that would be a mistake because lurking behind a secret door inside is PS. Short for Pacific Standard this atmospheric speakeasy-style bar has 12 signature cocktails with amusing names such as “Atlas Shrubbed,” and “Exit Through the Gift Shop”. And when you actually exit through the specialty food shop, you might want to pick up a fair-trade chocolate bar, a bottle of artisanal olive oil, or a container of whipped feta pistachio dip.

Round K by Sol

If you’re at Canal and Eldridge Streets and have a hankering for a high-quality cocktail plus some Korean-accented eats, look closely for the nicely placed green neon martini glass sign. If you spot it, you’re in luck. Wander into the cafe and try to find the back room where they’re shaking up drinks like a Seoul Mule and Grandpa’s Soju at Round K by Sol.

Classic cocktails with a Korean twist at Round K by Sol. Photo credit: Denys Gromov

Saint Tuesday

In Cortlandt Alley in Tribeca, look for an exterior stairway to ascend. Then seek out a discrete buzzer to press. After the door magically pops open, warily walk down a few flights of stairs below street level. You’ll be unsure if you’re really going to a speakeasy-style bar that opened in early 2022 or some kind of hidden den of debauchery. Eventually, though, you’ll open a door to find the perpetual revelry at Saint Tuesday. The drinks here (starting at $20 and going all the way up to $35) are refreshing and simple. One of their signature cocktails is the Italian Ambassador made of Campari, freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice, and club soda. You can also enjoy live music every night starting at 9:30 pm.

Saint Tuesday’s menu focuses on simple recipes, fresh and quality ingredients. Photo credit: cottonbro

The Woo Woo

For access to The Woo Woo, you’ll need the password. Awkwardly, painfully, it’s “Daddy’s home!”After ringing the buzzer outside and giving the password, you’ll be led into an adjacent room where you’ll have to press a dildo-shaped button on a wall of VHS porn videos. Then, with your dignity in the dumps, you’ll be allowed into this den bedecked to evoke Times Square when it was still littered with strip clubs, sex shops, and graffiti. The cocktails here, not surprisingly, evoke the ‘80s: Purple Rain, Eye of the Tiger, Donkey Kong, Dirty Dancing … you get the idea.