As the United States was engulfed in the Prohibition era, New York City became the center of organized crime. With bosses such as Salvatore Maranzano, Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Meyer Lansky and Frank Costello, the city was home to an estimated 32,000 speakeasies. Today, many of these speakeasies still exist, hidden away in secret locations and tucked away in alleyways. From Little Branch in West Village to Apotheke in Chinatown, there are plenty of places to explore and discover the secrets of New York City's Prohibition era.
Let's take a look at some of the most popular speakeasies in the city. Little Branch is located on the corner of busy Seventh Avenue in West Village. It might not seem like much on the outside, but once you're inside, you'll be amazed by its cozy atmosphere with low ceilings and built-in cabins. The Garret is located on the second floor of Five Guys on Bleeker Street in West Village. This speakeasy offers a unique experience with its vintage-inspired decor and delicious cocktails. Bathtub Gin is located at the back door of Stone Street Coffee Shop in Chelsea.
This space is adorned with dark woods and retro-inspired decor, which will bring you back to the 1920s.& Essen Bar is located at the top of 2nd Ave Deli on the Upper East Side. This vintage-inspired bar offers comfortable banquettes and candlelit tables, as well as delicious cocktails and first-grade Jewish delicatessen meals. Apotheke is located in a former opium den in Chinatown. This speakeasy mixes medical-style cocktails, which are labeled “aphrodisiacs” and “painkillers”, depending on the poison. The waiters are also dressed as pharmacists and the space is adorned with antique accessories and vintage furniture. La Noxe is a new addition to the New York City speakeasy scene.
Located inside the 28th Street subway station, this speakeasy is hidden in a secret place. Go down the flight of stairs at the corner of 28th Street and Seventh Avenue and don't go through the turnstiles to find it. The Casa Blanca Club was opened by mobster Larry Fay as a way to sell some of the alcohol he brought from Canada. It was a popular speakeasy for gangsters until its owner announced a 30% wage cut for its employees, resulting in his doorman shooting him dead that same day. Connie's Inn was a competitor to the Cotton Club and hired important jazz artists such as Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller and Fletcher Henderson. The artists enjoyed great artistic freedom here and even designed their own programs. El Fey was also owned by Larry Fay (see White House above).
He smuggled alcoholic beverages from Canada with his fleet of urban taxis and hired one of his former clients to serve as a hostess - Texas Guinan. The Landmark Tavern opened its doors in 1868 as an Irish lounge before being converted into a clandestine bar on its third floor during Prohibition. The Stork Club was very popular with celebrities such as Walter Winchell who had a private table there and used it as his base of operations for his column and radio program. The Cotton Club was located in Harlem and had a theme of a fantastic cotton plantation. It was one of the best-known speakeasies in New York.