How to get into NYC’s best speakeasies and hidden cocktail bars

By | March 7, 2020

In the back of HALL — the popular Japanese café and cocktail bar in Manhattan’s Flatiron district — is an unmarked door that opens onto a secret world: Odo, the kaiseki (multiple-course) restaurant of Hiroki Odo, who was formerly head chef of the Michelin-starred restaurant Kajitsu.

Serving nine courses, from an amuse-bouche of uni with caviar to sushi to sake ice cream, for $ 200 (not including drinks, tax or tip), the backroom spot is consistently packed.

But walk past the restrooms of Odo to a sliding door, and you’ll find an even more exclusive place: The Backroom, a members-only club devoted to hard-to-find Japanese whiskey — like a 20-year Kujira Ryukyu or Yamazakura 963 from 2002.

Chef Odo keeps the eight-seat room open until the wee hours for his friends in the food industry and other A-list insiders — a highly controlled list that’s kept strictly confidential — and it’s he who decides who gets to taste the rare spirits.

“It’s tough to find as substantial of a selection of Japanese whiskeys as you do [at Odo],” spirits expert Liza Weisstuch told The Post of the collection served up by whiskey master Jordan David Smith, formerly of Le Coucou and Atomix.

And whiskey is all that matters here — as evidenced by the spartan walls, dim lighting and wood plank tables. “It’s almost as though the minimalism is a trick to make sure you focus on the whiskey,” said Weisstuch.

How to get into NYC's best speakeasies and hidden cocktail bars
Some of the hard-to-find Japanese whiskey at The BackroomSatoru Yasumatsu

While you try to finagle a way in, here are four other clandestine NYC hotspots where you’ll have a better shot. Plus: 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the dawning of prohibition in the US, so live it up!

Odo and its whiskey bar: 17 W. 20th St.

134 Eldridge St., Manhattan

How to get into NYC's best speakeasies and hidden cocktail bars
Inside AttaboyAlamy Stock Photo

Located behind a nondescript door on the Lower East Side, this venue “has all the trappings of Prohibition-era style, from the décor and bar tools to the classic cocktails to the old-timey music,” Weisstuch said. It also has a sterling history: The space formerly housed Milk & Honey, the custom-cocktail bar that — for better or for worse — birthed the speakeasy and mixologist trends.

HOW TO GET IN: Look for the metal door marked “AB” and ring the buzzer. The best times to get a seat are right when they open at 6 p.m. or near closing hours (4 a.m.) since Attaboy is first come, first served.

406 Broome St.

Weisstuch calls Peppi’s a “whiskey lover’s paradise,” thanks to a “global selection that leans heavy on bourbons.” The Lower East Side haunt, hidden beneath a popular Italian restaurant, also has a tiny stage for live jazz.

HOW TO GET IN: Enter through Gran Tivoli restaurant and follow the spiral stairs down. Reservations for groups of six or more only.

49 W. 27th St., Manhattan

Located in the landmark Radio Wave Building — where inventor Nikola Tesla lived in the late 19th century — is Patent Coffee, a subterranean café that serves drinks like spiced yam cappuccino and a s’mores latte. But at night, the coffee shop turns into a saloon with complicated, ingredient-heavy cocktails on the menu. “Marconi’s Miracle” includes gin, two kinds of rum, Campari, strawberries and coconut, rooibos tea, cashew and clarified milk. “The drinks are a tad gimmicky but nonetheless delicious,” Weisstuch said.

HOW TO GET IN: After 5 p.m., an accordion-style door opens in the back of Patent Coffee, revealing Patent Pending. No reservations accepted.

135 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn

le boudoir yang

The door leading to Le Boudoir

Stephen Yang

le boudoir stefano

Inside Le Boudoir

Stefano Giovannini

2

View Slideshow

Chez Moi, on the border of Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill, is beloved by locals for its bistro-style steak frites and cozy atmosphere. But beneath the restaurant is an even cozier locale: Le Boudoir, a bar inspired by Marie Antoinette’s private chambers at Versailles. That means red velvet, gold leaf, marble and plenty of candles — plus a menu of fanciful cocktails (and those steak frites).

HOW TO GET IN: Inside Chez Moi, look for the “hidden” bookcase entrance to Le Boudoir. Reservations taken for parties of six or more. Bring your patience as cocktails can reportedly take up to 20 minutes to arrive.

Living | New York Post