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New York's Best Kept Secrets: Your Guide to the City's Underground Bars

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    NEWSLETTERS

    For The Times
    Jim Meehan of PDT makes a drink at the bar on St. Marks Place in New York.

    There are bars... and there are secret bars. Well, okay, maybe they're not completely "secret," but we're really into the romantic, private vibe of these craft cocktail destinations.

    Experimental Cocktail Club
    191 Chrystie St / Lower East Side
    Cocktails are not a usual drink for many Parisians, but the French are turning over a new leaf and embracing this classic American tradition. The Experimental Cocktail Club has recently opened in the Lower East Side, started by a few French ex-bankers with a liking to complex cocktails in an uber-chic environment. The Lower East Side's Experimental Cocktail Club is an outpost of the popular Parisian spot. With its rustic Parisian atmosphere and incredible craft cocktails, escape to this cozy drinking den.

    Milk and Honey
    134 Eldridge Street / Lower East Side
    This clandestine bar promises a new experience for your ordinary night out. Cocktail artist Sasha Petraske provides ingenious new ideas on everyday cocktails. This bar is definitely a place you will want to revisit. Although you must be aware that Milk and Honey is a reservation-only standard, and therefore you must call ahead. Here's a tip (shhh!), the number is listed on the website.

    Little Branch
    22 7th Ave S / West Village
    The great thing about this bar is the savvy bartenders who can whip up pretty much any type of drink that strikes your fancy. You name your favorite liquor, and like mad scientists they create a new concoction that you are sure to love. Bar owner Sasha Petraske (Milk and Honey), who is known for his unique cocktails, encourages his bartenders to also have special drinks on hand for the indecisive imbiber. Little Branch has an old-time feel, similar to the twenties era with its yellow walls, intimate atmosphere, and jazz music. "Old fashion" is definitely describes this bar considering its cash only, but Little Branch is certainly one of a kind.

    Mother’s Ruin
    18 Spring St / Nolita
    With a homey atmosphere for people looking to unwind, Mother’s Ruin is the perfect place. The menu may not have many options for cocktails, but the menu changes often. The service is superb and the bartenders are easygoing (and will make any drink you're in the mood for). Mother’s Ruin keeps the night going with some music and bar food that is sure to please, especially their French onion soup topped with grilled cheese.

    Proletariat
    102 St. Marks Pl / East Village
    The proletariat is a rather unconventional bar hidden inside of a bakery… Jane's Sweet Buns, to be exact. With its old- fashioned tattoo parlor decor and its offer of 12 beers on tap, 30 in bottles, and a few beer cocktails, this place definitely gives you options. Since you're already in a bakery--just saying--you have the ability to summon up your inner lazy self that wants to chill on the sofa and eat your body weight in pastries and drink beer with no remorse whatsoever. With a friendly atmosphere in an intimate space, Proletariat is sure to satisfy.

    1534
    20 Prince St / Nolita
    If you have been craving for a time travel expedition say around… 1534. Then this underground bar will take you there. 1534 offers cocktails and food created with a colonial theme. Since the bar is named after the year that Cartier took his first voyage, you can expect the atmosphere and vibe of the place to be sophisticated and adventurous even in decor. The bar menu tends to lean towards the unique and unconventional with ingredients like edible flowers. With bartenders that know their stuff, an array of food choices, and great music, you can be sure that this bar won't disappoint.

    The Raines Law Room
    48 West 17th St / Flatiron District
    On a dark and gloomy night, you ring the doorbell at the bottom of an unmarked stairwell, and when the door opens, you walk into a bar with a unique disposition. Each table is quipped with a button to signal a server--there are also cozy couches and room to move about comfortably. This is a classy place with professional servers, up-to-par drinks, and decor worthy of starting conversations. The bar is first come first serve, but reservations can be made from Sun-Tues.

    PDT (Please Don’t Tell)

    113 Saint Marks Place / East Village
    This bar is wonderful not only because it serves delicious drinks, but also gives you the opportunity to nosh a little. The food served is from Crif Dogs, located next door, where the bar snacks are just nonchalantly passed through the wall. Crif Dogs is known for their deep-fried hot dogs, but you're not just limited to gourmet franks--just ask for a full Crif’s menu. The cocktails also match the homestyle food; mixologist Jim Meehan works with bacon-infused bourbon and maple syrup and other unique liquors like buttered-popcorn rum. These zany and quirky mixtures is a fun way to spend your night out.

    Employees Only
    510 Hudson St / West Village
    This trendy bar hidden by a psychic/tarot card store is sure to satisfy all of your senses, perhaps even your sixth sense as well. With the occasional visit of a tarot card reader who does live readings at the door, you are destined to have an interesting night. With its tasteful cocktails and scrumptious, food ranging from appetizers to entrees, it is guaranteed to be satisfying. The bar offers a variety of cocktails, so you might want to bring more people along so that you can have a taste of each one! The room is intimate with a swanky feel that draws in a diverse crowd.

    Death + Co.
    433 East 6th St. / East Village
    “To drink alcohol was to live a life shadowed by death" …how poetic. This bar is in essence a speakeasy and the quote above is part of the bar's introduction on its website which oozes a satiric credo towards the 1919 Volstead Act. Yet this bar has more to offer than dry wit. The amount of dedication that head bartender Thomas Waugh puts into his drinks is so meticulous that his drinks could be described as nectar. The bar’s leather-bound menu quotes well-known literary boozers such as Hemmingway and screen legends like Mae West. With creative and unique names for their drinks like “Pretty Bird” and “Almond Brothers” you can’t help but be intrigued. If not for the cocktails, come back for the food offerings like truffle mac 'n' cheese, lobster brioche rolls, seared petite filet mignon, and many other mouthwatering options, you may have to come back for more.

    BFlat
    227 Church St / Tribeca
    There is certainly nothing flat or dull about this bar. The place practically emanates Jazz music. BFlat has a strong social scene, and appetizing cocktails and cuisine. This is a safe bet for a good time on a night out, it has everything you would want to have in an underground bar, great provisions, and a nice down to earth atmosphere, with room and seating for large parties, that makes anyone feel comfortable.

    Bleecker Heights Tavern
    296 Bleecker Street / West Village
    If you are looking for that All-American sports bar feel then this bar, located right above Five Guys, is for you. With a chill ambiance, friendly bartenders--and for when that burger craving hits--this bar is the go-to spot. Not to mention, this bar offers quite a view, with its full windows overlooking the three-street intersection in the West Village. You will walk into a friendly social scene at this secret tavern and you might find yourself perhaps staying longer than you had anticipated.