NYC is famous for its hidden speakeasies; little-known spots that you learn about through word of mouth, not through marketing or street signs. I recently experienced a few of these underground drinking holes, and highly recommend all of them for a fun night out.
- Employees Only – 510 Hudson St
Concealed behind a neon “psychic” sign, this small and classy establishment is perfect for a pre-dinner cocktail. I arrived at about 6pm on a Friday and easily found a seat at the classic marble bar. The bartenders here are true mixologists who pride themselves in specialty cocktails made with careful attention. There are tables in back and food is served, though I didn’t eat here. As we left around 8pm for dinner at a nearby restaurant, a line had formed at the door. I recommend coming before dinner to beat the lines. Avoid bringing a large group as there’s not much seating or standing room at the bar.
2. La Esquina – 114 Kenmare St
The brasserie space at La Esquina is underground and hard to find if you don’t know it’s there. The street façade is a taco counter with no sign mentioning the subterranean bar. After passing a bouncer at the unmarked entrance, we were led down a winding staircase and through the restaurant kitchen before arriving in the bar and restaurant area. It was packed with twenty-something partiers by the time we arrived at 10pm on Saturday. It’s worth checking out, but I might suggest going on a weeknight when you can enjoy the space without the crowds.
- Mayahuel – 304 E. 6th Street
I have lived around the corner from Mayahuel for years and did not discover it until recently. The unassuming blacked-out entranceway has no sign; the only indication it exists is the bouncer standing at the front door. The restaurant policy is no standing room at the bar, so they only allow as many patrons as can sit at the bar and in the restaurant. With only ten seats, the bar is cozy and we were up close and personal with the friendly bartenders. There are barside booths and additional restaurant seating upstairs. The extensive cocktail list includes pages of top-notch tequila and mezcal. We tried the chips and guacamole which were delicious, but the rest of the menu looks excellent as well. This is a great spot for an intimate date, especially for tequila lovers.