Would you go out of your way to find a bar?
Better yet, would you track down a password, venture along an alley, or knock three times on a nondescript door to garner entrance to a speakeasy?
During the heyday of the Prohibition Era in New York, speakeasies were all the rage. Cooler than the cat’s pajamas, they were hole-in-the-wall clubs where bright young things could go to sip giggle water and dance till their curls dropped. While the illegal allure of booze may have faded with the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the secretive magnetism of speakeasies lingers.
In the Hudson Valley, under-the-radar cocktail joints might be few and far between, but they’re well worth seeking out for toe-tingling libations with atmospheres to match. Scroll below for a rundown of secret bars in the region, along with a few favorite community spots that offer speakeasy-style vibes or histories sans the password-protected entry.
27 W Main St, Middletown
Hidden behind Nina Restaurant in Middletown lies the entrance to The Bullroom, a 1920s-style cocktail bar that keeps the spirit of the Gilded Age alive and thriving. Go for the cocktails, which get a hyperlocal twist with bitters, grenadine, and juices made inhouse.
Drinks are sassy, with names like Cat’s Meow, a dessert drink with J.P. Trodden bourbon and Don Ciccio & Figli nocino cream. Bar bites lean on the side of gourmet comfort food, with options ranging all the way from Hudson duck empanadas to truffled skillet smashed potatoes.
As for the vibe, it’s everything a proper speakeasy should be. With dark brick walls, moody lighting, and a gilded bar, The Bullroom makes it all too easy to lose track of the hours and savor an incredible night.
524 Warburton Ave, Hastings-on-Hudson
By day, Divino Cucina Italiana is a perfectly normal (and by normal, we mean delicious) Italian restaurant in Westchester County. Once happy hour rolls around, however, the eatery opens its secret stairway to The Speakeasy. Brighter and more modern than your standard secret bar, The Speakeasy feels like a swanky vacation in the heart of Westchester.
The space opens at 4 p.m. and offers a full menu until 10 p.m., which means it’s an ideal destination for after-work drinks. P.S. Divino’s speakeasy is a dream in the warmer months, with an open-air porch that makes it all too easy to while the night away.
There is no street address (at least, no official one) for Speakeasy 518. Instead, those in the know can meander to an unmarked door on the side of Albany’s City Beer Hall building to gain entry. (Hint: Look for the red light.)
Inside, visitors are transported to the height of the Roaring ‘20s in the Hudson Valley. As jazz-time tunes fill the air and old-school bartenders shake and stir every sort of cocktail imaginable, locals can lounge can mix and mingle like the flappers in the heart of the Capital Region.
Just be sure to leave the cell phone behind; Speakeasy 518 is a no-phone space, just as it was during the 1920s.
30 Plank Rd, Newburgh
North Plank Road Tavern might be a cozy community restaurant nowadays, but it was quite the hopping hooch spot during the Gilded Era. In the glory days of Prohibition, the historic roadhouse took a pass on the alcohol ban in order to operate as a speakeasy in the Hudson Valley.
Today, visitors can swing by to soak up the old-timey décor and elegant atmosphere in Newburgh. The cuisine is all about local flavor, with shout-outs to Hudson Valley farms prominent across the menu.
For a classy bite, give the white wine-steamed mussels or the carbonara-style garganelli pasta a twist. Pair them with a glass of wine for a meal worthy of any 1920s tycoon.
451 Main St, Highland Falls
Park Restaurant has quite the history in the Hudson Valley. Once a hotel, then a bar, it housed a speakeasy in the back dining room during the Prohibition Era. Today, it has a new life as a family-style restaurant in Highland Falls.
The menu is a mix of diner and pub fare, with dishes that range from old-school tuna melts to The Park Burger, which comes topped with a homemade potato pancake, bacon, American cheese, and a side of Thousand Island dressing.
347 Warren St, Hudson
Backbar isn’t a speakeasy, per se, but it’s close. To start, the Hudson bar hides behind an antique shop on Warren Street. The mood inside is reminiscent of 1920s glamour, albeit with an international touch. Head to the bar for happy hour, late-night drinks, or any time after noon on the weekends, then get ready for a dining and drinking experience that’s the vision of chef/owner/restaurateur Zakary Pelaccio.
The bar features a substantial mix of rums, tequilas, and bourbons, all of which drink just as well on their own as they do swirled into one of the craft cocktails on offer. In the mood for something a little different? Order the Dark & Stormy, a slushy cocktail with Plantation dark rum, yuzu, turmeric, and ginger.
Pair it with an order of dan dan noodles or, better yet, a dim sum brunch on Saturday or Sunday for a gorgeously gourmet spread that any bright young thing would love.
2 King St, Troy
Nestled above Wolff’s Biergarten in Troy, The Berlin is kinda, sorta almost a Collar City speakeasy. The atmosphere at the 1930s cocktail lounge is an alluring fusion of ease and luxury, thanks to deep red curtains that harmonize alongside moody wallpaper adorned with vintage prints.
As for the drinks, they favor class, quality, and twists on traditional. Order a Tom Collins or Cinnamon Old Fashioned at the bar, then sit back and take in the timeless jazz tunes that sound throughout the air. If you’re lucky, you might just stop by on a night when The Belin hosts a local live music night.
302 Warren St, Hudson; entrance at North 3rd and Prison Alley
Part of the larger café and hotel at The Maker, the lounge channels the intoxicating spirit of the Gilded Age. While not technically a speakeasy, it embraces the Prohibition Era’s inherent notion of escapism to the core.
The design is old-world luxury, with plush velvet couches and gilded end tables dominating a space accented with vintage prints and artfully tarnished accessories. Steal a high-back at the bar — a sleek white contrast to the dark fringed lights above it — then watch in awe as the bartender whips up a drink almost too beautiful to mar with a sip.
For a true giggle water-style cocktail, order The Forbidden. Made with vodka, Italicus Rosalio, fig, and lemon, it’s just the sort of drink a flapper would order during an unforgettable night on the town.
313 Fair St, Kingston
In the mood for a really good cocktail? You’ll find just that at Kingston’s Stockade Tavern. The eye-catching brick building is a home for top-tier drinks with an old-school spin.
Channel your inner Bond and sidle up to the bar for shaken or stirred sips with every sort of alcohol. Looking for a flapper-approved concoction? Try the Poet’s Dream, which is made with 1934 Plymouth Gin, Benedictine, dry vermouth, and orange bitters. Craving something a little different? The Pickle Back, with house-made pickle juice and a shot of rye, will wake you up in a flash.