An exciting frenzy of sweeping skylines, bustling streets, aspiring artists and divine cuisine, Manhattan is what dreams are made of. And what better way to be introduced to this vibrant New York borough than with an expert? 

Meet Kelsy Chauvin, a writer and photographer based in Brooklyn. Specialising in travel, culture, dining and nightlife here, Kelsy talks about Manhattan, a place close to her heart. 

Just as they did a century ago, speakeasies dot the city of New York. Behind their unmarked doors and faux streetfront businesses, they deliver an air of mystery with every cocktail.

“The past is present in Manhattan. And you can drink it in.”

During Prohibition, dark, often windowless speakeasies flourished for obvious reasons. But their history stretches back many decades prior, when “speak softly shops” were simply unlicensed bars about which patrons whispered, and inside of which they kept the din down to avoid unwanted attention.

As if they were channelling clandestine bars of yore, New York’s present-day speakeasies keep their divine cocktails and posh interiors on the D.L. So when you read about these intimate lounges, remember that the secret stays between us.

The Raines Law Room

Down a few steps off a side street from Manhattan’s Union Square is a black metal door with a small engraved sign: “Please ring the bell, someone will attend you.” Expect a short wait. Once inside, the Raines Law Room welcomes you to relax in privacy. The long, dimly lit lounge feels almost ethereal with its sheer curtains enclosing Chesterfield furniture and antique ornamentation – all warmed in winter by fireplaces, and serenely cool in summer away from the gritty heat. The back bar is where Meaghan Dorman and her bartending team make magical concoctions infused with fresh herbs from the courtyard garden. Make reservations on weekends or with larger parties, and enjoy the retro convenience of the server call buzzer mounted on the wall by each seating nook.

The 18th Room

One of New York’s newest Speakeasies is, in a way, an extension of its established sister bar, Bathtub Gin. Opened in Spring 2018, the 18th Room occupies a swanky Chelsea space that’s hidden behind a coffee-bean storage room – ostensibly to supply Stone Street Coffee next door, itself a front for Bathtub Gin. But the 18th Room takes a more sophisticated turn pouring elevated cocktails using rarer, mostly organic spirits paired with uncommon ingredients (such as the burnt eucalyptus topping off the refreshing Jus’a Splash). The elegant bar is a swell spot to engage mixologists who’ll gladly prepare a bespoke tipple, but a corner booth in the roomy rear lounge feels easy for speaking intimately.

The Office NYC

It may not seem secretive to stroll through the expansive high-rise Aviary bar in the Mandarin Oriental, New York. But upon reaching the Office NYC, on whose door you host will knock for entry, a lounge of furtive luxury awaits. The speakeasy vibe here unfolds from that hidden passage into a polished, clubby lounge that serves Prohibition-era cocktails, plus high-ticket “vintage” and premium “dusty bottle” libations made with rare spirits. Service is stellar at The Office, so don’t be shy to try a Dealer’s Choice cocktail, a custom crafter to suit your liquid predilections.

Venture out in Manhattan on our New England’s Magnificent Autumn trip. 

Reservations several weeks in advance are essential for speakeasies. If you’re interested, please let Luxury Gold know before you travel.