What are speakeasies?
Speakeasies are establishments which illegally sold alcoholic beverages during the Prohibition Era (1920's). During this time, the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol was illegal. The term comes from a patron’s manner of ordering an alcoholic drink without raising suspicion—bartenders would tell patrons to be quiet and “speak easy".
Yes, bars with this theme still exist in New York (Little Branch, which I wrote about in my previous post, is one of them). I managed to hit up three on Friday:
Death & Co. 433 East 6th St. (btwn 1st & Ave. A)
Death & Company is a true gem in the East Village. I’m a sucker for the low-key prohibition-era vibe: dim candles, low-hanging chandeliers, dark wood interior, mixologists behind the bar in their clean button-downs and suspenders. The use of all their esoteric ingredients will make your head spin. For example, the “Zombie Punch” consists of: Appletons VX Rum, Ron Del Barrilito Rum, El Dorado 151 Rum, fresh lime juice, Don’s Mix #2, grenadine, St. George Absinthe, Velvet Falernum, and a dash of Angostura bitters… @_@. My personal recommendation is the “Miss Behavin”: Champagne, Clear Creek Pear Brandy, Laird’s Bonded Applejack, and fresh lemon juice.
Note: they do NOT make vodka-based drinks. And if you’re looking for a place to kick back with a boring rum & coke, then GTFO.
Milk & Honey Eldridge St. (Lower East Side)
Milk & Honey is owner Sasha’s personal retaliation against celebrity-obsessed nightlife. One of the bar’s rules prohibits “name-dropping and starfucking”; Only mellow, non-famous members can receive the unlisted phone number, which gets disconnected as soon as somebody posts it online. All must call ahead to be buzzed in through the surveillance system-equipped door. The space encompasses a candlelit lounge, a four-seat bar and a few reservation-only booths. Sasha himself meticulously prepares each expensive cocktail. The intended effect is achieved—even a nice nobody can feel like royalty. That is, if you can get on the guest list.
(Despite the fact that everybody’s in the same club, groups at Milk and Honey don’t tend to mingle. And don’t even think of scoring phone numbers: Sasha has ordained that “Gentlemen will not introduce themselves to ladies.”)
The ambiance is very dark, sexy and luxe: sheer black curtains, vintage white lace wallpaper, fur throws, plush leather couches, velvet armchairs, glass mirror tables, metal painted tile ceiling, dim flickering candles… it had a very classic “Sherlock Holmes” feeling to it, and reminded me of the antique living room I’ll never have. You even have to pull a chain to summon the waitress. Definitely a great place to take your date for a romantic rendezvous. The drinks weren’t as good as Milk & Honey, but the ingredients definitely made me curious. My “Iconoclast” consisted of: Johnnie Walker Black Scotch, Amaro Averna, Marie Brizard Creme de Cacao, Lemon Juice, Orange Bitters, & a rinse of Green Chartreuse… whatever that is.
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