Category Archives: Places

Backroom NYC

The 18th amendment is over and done, but Backroom NYC still sticks to its roots. It doesn’t get any more authentic than this, because this bar has been a speakeasy since Prohibition. Places like these, that have stuck around through the ages, know what their patrons are after. And boy, does this place deliver.

Step down through the back entrance to what was once Ratner’s Deli and you’ll be taking a walk into one of only two original speakeasies still runningin use in New York City. Just thinking about the things this place musta seen from then to now gets me all excited. Talk about a historical experience. Even if you’re not a total history buff like me, there’s something for everyone here.

It’s lush, it’s dark, it’s high end. It’s in an old basement, so you go downstairs and start to drink and socialize, and maybe even “conduct business” like the mobsters of old, and it feels like no time’s passed at all. You can drink a beer out of a paper bag or hard liquor out of a coffee mug. While having a drink in a coffee mug might usually just illicit nostalgia for the college years, it feels necessary here in case the place gets busted. Why officer! This is chamomile tea!

This New York City gem is a well-known secret – you can even find the password for the week on their website, but don’t assume that means that this place doesn’t keep a few tricks up its sleeve.Run your eyes around the room, and you’ll see scenes from the movies, places of business from the old days, and maybe even the secret room!

Red Phone Booth

We love speakeasies because they broke the all the rules. Alcohol may have been the lifeblood of the speakeasy, but The Red Phone Booth celebrates a vice of a different kind. While you’ll find plenty of quality cocktails here, once you step through the secret door and enter this fine establishment, the name of the game is cigars. In their state of the art cigar counter, you’ll find not one, but two house cigars.

I just love the way speakeasies get dolled up for modern times. This place, Red Phone Booth, is drawn on the old luxuries while giving its all on the technology front. Looking around, you’ll feel more like you’re in a secret lounge for the worlds elite, especially if you get on board with their membership plan and use their biometric scanner to enter. Wooden interiors, plush leather chairs, and a roaring fire gives it a cozy feeling while being visibly, undeniably high end.

Smoking not your thing? Not a problem. The air in the smoking areas is totally replaced every four minutes, and they have chairs with triple lumbar support. Biometric scanners allow entry to all locations. Cigars might be the special twinkle in their eye, but they’re still friendly to alcohol. Take a whiskey tasting course or attend one of their talks, and you’ll feel less like you’re in a bar and more like you’re attending a meeting at a culture house –a place intent on keeping its secrets but willing to share its shared knowledge with a select few. No wonder exclusivity is such a draw!

But seriously, they like to keep their secrets around here. They don’t take reservations and they don’t give out the code to get in to just anybody. Part of the fun is getting to know someone with access. Planning a trip? Maybe you can get an in with a tasting event.

Prohibition Miami

Lots of times you’ll see a bar that’s trying to recreate a “prohibition experience”. You know what I’m talking about. There’s the requesite red velvet interiors, leather chairs, artwork on the walls featuring mysterious ladies. That’s all fine and good, and you’ll never hear any complaints out of me when it’s done well. But still, there’s always that desire to see something new. When someone adds a fresh spin on the favorite theme, then there’s no better watering hole in town.

Now, most people don’t picture loud and proud Miami as taking part of the secretive glamour of the roaring twenties, but Prohibition Miami figured out how to make the two work together in a way that hits the spot. You’ve still got the typical low lighting and moody color scheme, but along with the typical reds and blacks, they’ve also thrown in lush oranges and deep greens that round out the color scheme. The combination makes it feel less like a tourist spot, and more like a local favorite.

I can’t say it enough: food is a big deal here. The place is two stories, and there’s a reason they put the restaurant on the first floor. You won’t find a lackluster dish. Everything looks beautiful and mouth-watering, while also very refined. The actual cocktail lounge of this speakeasy, aptly named the 18th, is on the second floor. The live music drifts up and down between the open floors, but there’s a totally different atmosphere up top. Upstairs is more social, with long, luxurious open seating that gives you the freedom to mingle or group off.

There’s always something new to try here, whether it’s the rotating dinner specials, the live entertainment, or the ever-present possibility that the whole place might break out into a roaring good dance party.

It seems to me that the place is more focused on the achieving the speakeasy theme rather than making you feel like you’re actually sipping on an illicit cocktail, but it achieved what it was after. Come dressed to the nines and sip on a prohibition cocktail, and watch as locals and tourists mingle.

The Rest at Bodega 331

Aw, man. You want to talk about a place that invokes the speakeasy era, how about an underground restaurant and bar that uses a different business as a cover? The Rest at Bodega 331 is located at an old location for a stock broker and investment company.

Through the backdoor “Rest” Room, you’ll find your way down to the basement where Salt Lake City boasts a legit speakeasy environment unlike any other we’ve seen. With local macabre art, dimly light environs, and a kitchen that sits in an old bank vault from the earliest years of the city. The seating area is long and narrow with a larger front room and smaller back room. You get the unmistakable feeling of going through a time-warp.

If you’re like us, you’ll go with a half-full stomach and a small group of friends to share drinks and split appetizers and meals. You’ll talk about pseudo-sordid topics and make pseudo-sinister plans in hushed whispers and with an inflated sense of importance. If you’re like us, that is.