Articles Tagged: cocktail bars



Apotheke is something of a speakeasy located in Chinatown, NYC. The awning is unlabeled, but there’s no passwords, secret entrances, or exclusive phone number. You just need to be savvy enough to know where to look- Doyers St. a.k.a. the Bloody Elbow. You can tell which of the two doors labeled “9” is Apotheke by looking for the window stacked with medicine bottles.

The decor is apothecary chic. As you can see, there’s a large number of antique medicine bottles filled with all manners of housemade bitters and infusions. I’ve heard the word “opium den” used to describe the classy decor. It has all the feel of a lounge, but none of the notions of exclusivity. Its a bit louder than many similar cocktail bars in the city, and the clientele is well dressed. Much better for groups than places like Raine’s Law Room with ample standing room. In fact, the bar doesn’t have any stools.

The bartenders are great. Mustaches, lab coats and they make top notch cocktails. But unlike many cocktail bars- there’s not a classic in sight. The menu is entirely original concoctions. They’re sorted by category like “stress relief,” “aphrodisiacs” and contain all manner of ingredients- many of which you would never see at a place serving Jerry Thomas cocktails.

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Madam Geneva

Madam Geneva on Bleeker Street (NoHo to be super precise) is a gin lover’s dream. While officially I believe this is considered a speakeasy attached to Saxon + Parole, its entrance is neither particularly hard to find nor particularly mysterious. You just open the door.

What’s Good : Apparently this bar trades on the reputation of its jam cocktails, which nearly every other review talks glowingly of.  My omission of this wasn’t intentional- I just didn’t know about them until I had already had my share of cocktails.

So while the jam cocktails should be enough to intrigue anyone who walks in the door, a gin fanatic will immediately fall in love. I’m not sure if there’s a bar in NYC with a larger selection of gin than this. I was able to try several gins for the first time here: Oxley, Berkshire Mtn’s Greylock, Bombay Sapphire East, and I could have kept trying all night. There were that many gins.

One cocktail I particularly enjoyed was the Lower EASTside: 1.5 oz. Bombay Sapphire East ¾ oz. Yellow Chartreuse ¾ oz. ginger liqueur 1 oz.  fresh lemon juice Thai Basil – 4 leaves (source)

The atmosphere was pleasant.

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Dutch Kills

Of all of the speakeasy style cocktail bars I’ve been to, Dutch Kills holds a special place in  my personal list of cocktail bars. Underneath the subway tracks that I take to work every day in an area of town that once was a wasteland of ten lanes of vehicular traffic (they’ve made some great improvements as of late though!),there exists this wonderful haven of cocktail-making.

Dutch Kills is just one of Saschaa Petraske’s “Hand Crafted Cocktail Empire,” which includes Little Branch, Mile and Honey, The East Side Company Bar, and White Star.

Getting In: The outside is marked by only a white neon sign. It says “Bar.” The insides are dark wood and dimly lit- it feels like a speakeasy and is very much in the line with the current trend. Its a cozy bar and a great place to take someone for a date or for an intimate gathering of a few friends. I don’t recommend it strongly for groups, but compared to other speakeasy style cocktail bars in the city you’re more likely to find space for your large group here than many other places.

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Raines Law Room

Raines Law Room is one of those bars denoted by an unmarked door in midtown Manhattan. Of all of the so-called “speak-easy’s” in New York City, this is the one that I’ve been to the most frequently. I originally “discovered” this bar when a few of my friends surprised me for my birthday.

Firstly, the atmosphere is top notch. It is classy with curtains, upholstered seats, dimly lit booths with a well place “light switch” that you pull on when you need a refill. But despite the great seats, one of my favorite places in this cocktail bar is actually the bar area. It is small and only stands about 4 or 5 at  best, but it is a great vantage point to see the care that and effort that goes into each cocktail. And of course, don’t forget to check the wall paper in the restroom.

What’s Good: This is the bar I fell in love with the Negroni at. One night this past winter, while tipping back a few with a good friend of mine I ordered the unassuming “Winter Negroni.” It was a seasonal cocktail made with the usual vermouth, Campari, and with Beefeater Winter Gin.  

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