Ten of the best hidden bars in New York

Lucy E. Cousins

Manhattan has no shortage of Michelin-starred restaurants and jaw-dropping attractions. But what isn’t so apparent – from the street view anyway – is that NYC has more secret bars than you could visit in a month (or two months for that matter). You may already know about PDT, Employees Only and Campbell Apartment but for the rest, we’ve uncovered our 10 favourites, so you can spend less time deciding, and more time drinking.

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1. Dear Irving
Dive into history at this Gramercy speakeasy, choosing from the JFK, The Great Gatsby, Abraham Lincoln or the Marie Antoinette rooms. Think lush interiors, gilded chairs and personal buzzers to press for service. Reservations are essential.

2. Apotheke
This elaborately hidden bar in Chinatown is influenced by 19th-century apothecaries so expect lab coats, antique medicine bottles and intricate cocktails spiked with herbs. Enter through the unmarked doors, order a ‘Dead Poet’ and keep an eye out for a seat.

3. Gallow Green
Whether you are booked to see the interactive play Sleep No More or not, you should check out this rooftop bar in Chelsea. In summer it’s decked out in flowerpots, trellises and wooden tables, in winter it’s a hiker’s cabin, complete with mulled wine.

4. Slowly Shirley
Not particularly hard to find, this 1940’s Hollywood-themed bar is located beneath popular The Happiest Hour in Greenwich Village. Sip on an ‘Ingrid Bergman’ as you slink into the red leather seats.

5. The Garrett
Hidden at the back of a (delicious) burger joint, this secret West Village bar can be reached via two flights of stairs. Although you probably won’t get a seat, don’t worry, the cocktails are cheeky and creative, and so are the barmen.

Back Bar.

6. The Back Room
This 1920’s speakeasy on the Lower East side has been around for ages, but it makes the list because it’s so hard to find (down a dingy alleyway), drinks come in teacups, and it was actually run by gangsters during prohibition.

7. The Blind Barber
You or your man friend can grab a quick shave this East Village barbers, before heading through the rolling door at the back. If you’re allowed in, we suggest ordering a ‘Shiso Pretty’ cocktail ASAP.

8. Angel’s Share 2
A second outcrop of this popular Japanese-inspired bar has sprung up in East Village, and it’s just as good as the original (their cocktails are legendary). Entry is through Japanese restaurant, Sharaku; walk two floors up to the unmarked door. No phone or website, just show up at 14 Stuyvesant Street.

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9. Auction House
If you’re look for a sexy Victorian-era bar on the Upper East side, this red velvet-covered boudoir is for you. With nude paintings, drapery in abundance, and dim lighting, it’s got date night written all over it.

10. Little Branch
With live jazz Sunday through Thursday, this basement bar in West Village is worth the nerves it’ll take you to knock on the unmarked door at 10.30pm. The cocktails are fierce and if you don’t know what to order, just tell the waiter your spirit of choice.