New York

NYC’s Best Hidden Cocktail Bars

by Christopher Kompanek  |  Published January 8, 2016

For a place that has a cocktail named in its honor, there is no shortage of finely made drinks to be had in Manhattan. Just about every street has a bar but the best are not illuminated by large neon signs but rather sit in the shadows speakeasy style, eagerly serving natives in the know. No passwords required. 

Porchlight Flagg Day


The quaintly named Porchlight is restaurateur Danny Meyer’s first foray into libations. Tucked into a quiet corner in the emerging Hudson Yards neighborhood, this warm space exudes southern ramshackle elegance with worn wood floors, exposed brick and a well-appointed backlit bar. Divided by alcohol strength, classics like a Sazerac can be had along side more out-of-the-box concoctions like the vodka-based salty spaniel with grapefruit, citrus marmalade and spiced honey. Come early for one of the best happy hours and live music on Monday evenings.

271 11th Ave

Bathtub Gin

Hidden behind a secret door in an espresso bar on 9th avenue in Chelsea, it doesn’t get more clandestine than this. On most nights, Bathtub Gin can be spotted by the long line that stretches outside the unassuming façade of the Stone Street Coffee Company. Once inside, grab a menu which divides drinks into categories shaken and stirred. Try the Blushing Lady #2, a mix of its namesake spirit with pavan liquor, peychaud’s bitters and egg white.

132 9th Ave

The Happiest Hour

Happiest Hour Room

Walk through the non-descript door of the Happiest Hour and a tropical oasis – think Don Draper in Hawaii – awaits. Highlights include a “Fall from the Tree” with apple juice, cinnamon and aromatic bitters. Contributing to the breezy vacation feel, each signature cocktail let’s you choose your preferred liquor. We prefer bourbon and to wash it down with their namesake burger, think of it as a shotgun wedding between a restaurant patty and a fast food bun.

121 W 10th St

Flatiron Lounge

The Jazz Age of the roaring twenties echoes through the long and narrow space of the Flatiron Lounge. It’s easy to lose track of time at the mahogany bar with classically prepared gimlets, mules and more off-center creations like the bourbon-based Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test with chartreuse, fernet and cacao.

37 W 19th St

The Dead Rabbit

Dead Rabbit

The financial district bears no resemblance to what once was the Boss Tweed-reigning Five Points neighborhood except inside the Dead Rabbit’s upscale 3-story saloon where you can almost feel the sawdust rustling beneath the floorboards. There are so many different cocktails that it takes a leather-bound book to contain all the punches, cups, juleps, and toddies. Using ingredients like orange flower water, quince jelly and wormwood tincture along with premium spirits, these are drinks that will awaken and challenge your palate.

30 Water St

Dear Irving

Located just off Manhattan’s only private park in the gramercy neighborhood, Dear Irving exudes cozy refinement. Club chairs abound in small dark spaces while the tin ceilings hang low in the back bar area, creating a cocoon effect. Their spin on the Manhattan is made with yellow chartreuse and named after the hip north Brooklyn neighborhood Greenpoint.

55 Irving Pl

Slowly Shirley

Slowly Shirley Cleopatra

Tucked down a narrow staircase inside of The Happiest Hour, Slowly Shirley exudes a come hither vibe with tiny tables that encourage intimacy. Art Deco style paneling and tiny statues of a woman rising out of a radiant sun complete the picture. Order a Manhattan made with Whistle Pig, or a View Carre with Louis Royer cognac and keep it classic.

Downstairs, 121 W 10th St

Holiday Cocktail Lounge


Located on Saint Marks Place, once the epicenter of cool in the East Village, Holiday Cocktail Lounge acts as a time capsule of the days when Lou Reed, Jimi Hendrix and Jean-Michel Basquiat called the neighborhood home. This elegant watering hole, inspired by Madonna’s “Holiday,” features a large semi-circle bar in the center of its cozy room so drinks like a corpse reviver with apple jack, vermouth and cognac are never too far away.

75 St Marks Pl