New York offers many experiences for the traveler looking for a quality libation. As the weather gets colder and the streets get more crowded, try warming up away from the masses at one of these cozy, underground spaces.
The Vault At Pfaff’s
Located underground at Broadway and Bleecker in NoHo, The Vault at Pfaff’s is a neighborhood bar and lounge inspired by Charles Pfaff’s original beer cellar. The space played host to numerous actors and literary legends in the 1850s, such as Walt Whitman and Mark Twain. The bar pays homage to its history with refined touches like menus on newsprint, while also keeping the space modern with stylish interiors. On the menu, expect handcrafted cocktails, world-class wines, Champagne, beer and upscale bar bites like mahi mahi ceviche, filet mignon medallions and truffle mac and cheese.Village Vanguard
178 7th Avenue South
Located in Greenwich Village, Village Vanguard is a small underground bar and jazz club with much history. Since its birth in 1935, big name musicians have come here to play – and still do – and you’ll see their photos adorning the walls of the small but cozy venue. Village Vanguard was also the recording space for many important live jazz albums, like Bill Evans’ “Sunday at The Village Vanguard,” John Coltrane’s experimental Vanguard recordings from the late 1960s and Jason Moran’s “The Bandwagon: Live at the Village Vanguard.”
201 Park Avenue South
Previously called Underbar, Lilium is located underneath the W Hotel-Union Square. Inspired by the detailed appearance of a cave of wild lilies, the 1,600-square-foot space features a twisted metal ceiling that descends down the wall and complements the myriad black steel lilies. Along with an interesting decor that plays on nature, guests can enjoy craft beers, classic cocktails and small-batch spirits like Kings County, Hudson Baby Bourbon, Woodford Reserve and Elijah Craig.
281 Lafayette Street
Pravda is an underground Russian bistro caviar bar serving handcrafted cocktails and martinis. It’s one of the larger and more pristine underground spaces in the city, with classy, modern decor. From the food menu, items like caviar with blini, potato pancakes with smoked salmon and chicken kiev add to the Russian experience. In terms of drinks, they serve beer, wine, cocktails and feature over 70 different vodkas including 10 that are house-infused flavors.
The Bar Downstairs
485 5th Avenue
Located in the cellar level of the Andaz Fifth Avenue hotel, The Bar Downstairs is a dimly lit space serving up pre-Prohibition style libations and upscale tapas. The space takes on a cozy yet social ambiance, with two Claro Walnut bars, an open kitchen, communal tables and over-sized banquettes.
124 Old Rabbit Club
124 MacDougal Street
This secret underground bar is a beer-lover’s haven. With more than 70 brews on the menu, 124 Old Rabbit Club is frequented by more locals than tourists. Immersing drinkers in a speakeasy-like atmosphere, the space is like a dimly lit cave with quality service, rare beers and a small wine selection. To enter, walk down the metal stairs until you find the black door with a white stenciled “124” and spray-painted bunny. If the door is closed, you can ring the buzzer to be let in.
West 15th Street
Tucked beneath Chelsea Market you’ll find The Tippler, a historical space featuring locally salvaged artifacts like reclaimed water tower wood and train rails from the High Line park. The venue has a speakeasy-feel, with bartenders serving made-to-perfection cocktails that often take on an international twist. Try “The Crippler,” made with WhistlePig rye, J.M overproof rhum, Stroh Jagertee, Fidencio mezcal, Yellow Chartreuse and bbq bitters, “Diego’s Donkey,” a blend of Barsol pisco, lime, ginger and Peruvian bitters or the “Caipisutra,” made with Mãe de Ouro cachaça, pineapple, grapefruit peel, lime and garam masala.
The Cabin Down Below
110 Avenue A
The Cabin Down Below is not only located underground, but was once one of the East Village’s best kept secrets, although over the years it has become a local favorite. Decorated to look like a friend’s basement, the laid-back space draws a crowd of elite hipsters, one-hit-wonders and rock ‘n’ roll band members. To access the bar, which is located underneath Niagara and Black Market, enter through the Seventh Street alleyway. You’ll see a black door and metal staircase that will lead you down the backside of the restaurant to the bar.
Jimmy’s No. 43
43 East 7th Street
Jimmy’s No. 43 is an underground beer bar and restaurant in the East Village. Renowned for its thoughtful selection of tap, bottled and canned beers, you can order interesting brews like Butternuts Beaver Pond, Evil Twin Before, During & After and Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Ale. Additionally, the relaxed, community atmosphere and welcoming staff, including the notoriously friendly owner, Jimmy Carbone, make this a local favorite.
Sake Bar Hagi
152 W. 49th Street
An izakaya, or Japanese pub, Sake Bar Hagi offers unusual tapas as well as a wide selection of, you guessed it, sake. Though the service can be a bit slow, be patient, izakayas are focused around socializing and the food and libations are worth the wait. Also, you may pass the venue a few times before you find it due to the fact you’ll only see a small sign with steep steps leading down into a vibrant, friendly space hidden from view.
What’s your favorite underground bar in New York?