Suddenly, a lot of new bars are hard to find — maybe. While the early-aughts trend faded away temporarily, 2022 has seen a fresh batch of neo-speakeasies opening up in back rooms, basements, and at least one midtown subway station. We stopped by nine of the city’s newest “hidden” bars to see how secret they really are and whether it’s worth saying a password to get in.
🤐 1 whisper: Even your out-of-town cousin knows about this place.
🤐 🤐 2 whispers: When you arrive, you might briefly wonder if you’re in the correct spot.
🤐 🤐 🤐 3 whispers: If you know the right thing to say or do, you’ll probably get in.
This bar has more signage than some airports.
Getting in: Walk into the marginally subterranean room adjoining the Eastern European restaurant Tzarevna (CHECK OUT THE SECRET BAR INSIDE, a sidewalk chalkboard helpfully urges) and follow a series of pink paper planes to the back.
Once you’re inside: Skylit ceilings and a somewhat inexplicable astronaut mural make for a thoroughly pleasant space where you might sip an Avion de Papel — a mix of mezcal, yellow Chartreuse, Aperol, and lime juice — that runs $16.
154 Orchard St., nr. Rivington St.
The storefront is a convincing facsimile of a locksmith-and-shoe-repair shop, but there’s a bouncer. You may be disappointed if you actually wanted to have some boots resoled.
Getting in: “You can’t just walk in,” the iPad-toting doorman scolded … before ushering us inside.
Once you’re inside: You will find a very packed, very loud Art Deco–inspired lounge.
1488 Second Ave., nr. 78th St.
A camouflaged door leads from the daytime coffee shop in front to the bar. WE ARE OPEN, reads a sign outside.
Getting in: Just as the sign promised, the door was open when we showed up.
Once you’re inside: A festive and vaguely tropical spot to nurse a spicy paloma. Why not enjoy it on the fairy-lit patio out back?
99 Franklin St., nr. Milton St., Greenpoint
You should reserve a table on Resy. There is also a password, but that password is easily found on the website. (It is, we are sorry to report, “Daddy’s home.”)
Getting in: Ring the doorbell, then recite the password to the voice on the other side of the door, which will cost you some degree of dignity. Then press a button marked with a dildo and push past a faux bookcase of porn tapes.
Once you’re inside: The experience is a reasonable re-creation of hanging out in a basement in the suburban Midwest, and the staff is notably hospitable.
266 W. 47th St., nr. Eighth Ave.
While the bar is inside a provisions shop called Pine & Polk, the owners posed for a handful of widely read stories announcing PS’s opening.
Getting in: You’ll need a host to push back a hidden door, which is a rack of small-batch chocolate bars, to gain entry to the main attraction. The process is entirely frictionless.
Once you’re inside: It’s slick, spacious, and trendy. (Yes, you can order a caviar bump at the marble bar.) Make sure to grab a bottle of Instagrammable olive oil at the provisions shop on your way back out.
300 Spring St., nr. Hudson St.
This is essentially the lobby bar for the Arlo Soho hotel, nestled behind a velvet curtain.
Getting in: The most taxing part of the trip is the four-minute walk from the Canal Street 1 train. Breeze in and look for the neon sign.
Once you’re inside: This darker-than-usual hotel bar is a fine spot to sip strong cocktails inspired by mid-century American cuisine like ambrosia salad and pineapple upside-down cake.
231 Hudson St., nr. Canal St.
Look for an easy-to-miss green neon martini glass on the sign outside.
Getting in: The bar is tucked inside a café. Find your way to the back room. A mumbled “Are you open?” on our end was all it took to confirm that, yes, it was.
Once you’re inside: Sink into the lush blue velvet chairs and order soju cocktails such as the vanilla-accented Reconstruction Cappuccino, a drink that requires a “long sip,” as our bartender cryptically explained.
78 Canal St., nr. Eldridge St.
The door on the street is unmarked but massive. A little neon-lit window ensures you won’t miss it.
Getting in: Walk into the small streetside storefront, admire the actual cacti, then check in with the host, who will grant you entry through a separate door.
Once you’re inside: There are laid-back CDMX vibes and six types of margarita on the menu at this moody and sprawling upscale cantina. Order a build-your-own barbacoa-taco platter while you’re there, if you’d like.
231 Kent Ave., nr. N. 1st St., Williamsburg
It is hardly hush-hush — the exact geographic coordinates are posted to the bar’s Instagram page along with a photo of the entrance. Nevertheless, it is, in the most literal sense, underground.
Getting in: There is a sign for a newsstand, the lotto, and a barber, but the only indications of a bar are the pulsating strains of Trick Daddy.
Once you’re inside: It feels like the MTA’s hottest club, with neon lights, disco balls, and espresso martinis.