A bar-slash-lounge that’s open past midnight in the suburbs is a rarity, but that’s exactly what you’ll find in downtown Sparkill, where a new speakeasy has joined a solid lineup of eateries. It’s called Six23 Social and in true secret watering hole fashion, you’ll need a password to get in on busy weekend nights.
Once inside, patrons are transported back to the 1920s, from the bowtie-clad bartenders to the moody lighting to the more than 200 framed photos lining the walls that depict different facets of Prohibition. You’ll see images of police raiding bars and dumping barrels of bourbon and beer into the streets, and flapper-style fashion that characterized the era. The vibe is courtesy of chef and restaurateur Denis Whitton (he also owns Pier 701 in Piermont) whose previous French restaurant, Autumn, was a casualty of the pandemic. “Autumn was struggling, and I was trying to think of other ideas for the space, an Italian deli or a pastry shop, and then a few friends reminded me that when I came back to the area in 2003, I had wanted to open a lounge with a New York City vibe,” he says. “So that’s the direction I went in.”
Whitton enlisted the help of his wife’s friend, interior designer Mairead Jensen, to transform the space, which features low lighting, darkly hued walls, and a secret room—available for parties—tucked behind a bookcase. Local artist Arabella Wilson painted the murals that appear in both dining and secret rooms. The food is all Whitton, however, and is influenced by his background as a French chef—after getting his start as a dishwasher at the tender age of 13 at Cornetta’s, a Piermont staple, Whitton worked in several French restaurants in New York City.
But instead of focusing on hearty fare like braised stews and cassoulets, he settled on a selection of small plates with big flavors such as grilled octopus, warm frisée aux lardons salad, flatbread pizza, lobster sliders, chilled oysters, and deviled eggs. “People don’t want to eat entrées during the week,” says Whitton, who also offers a selection of sides like his delectable Parmesan risotto, creamy spinach or cheddar cheese polenta, and a dessert menu with hints of both old-fashioned options (a traditional ice cream soda) and more sophisticated sweets (profiteroles and a crème brûlée flight). “Tapas allows a chef to show his flavors and creativity a bit more.”
Since this is a speakeasy, the bar area is the focus of the space, with era-appropriate apéritifs like the Secret Sazerac with rye, bitters, and absinthe rinse, or the Sparkill Sidecar with cognac and triple sec. Even the beers are a nod to the 1920s (when was the last time you saw Colt 45 on a drink menu?). And since Six23 Social is open until midnight during the week and 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, it’s the perfect place for a nightcap. (And to get your silent movie fix. The TV behind the bar shows classics like “Abbott and Costello” and “The Little Rascals” on repeat.) “Things are definitely turning around, and people are staying out later again,” says Whitton. If you pour it, they will come.
623 Main Street, Sparkill