Tours in New York: Secret Spots (Part II)
The Back Room is one of the only two speakeasies in New York City that operated during Prohibition and is still in existence today. It is a timeless example of the underbelly of New York past.
THE BACK ROOM
By Lucas Compan, a guest storyteller
The original 1920's speakeasy, known simply as “The Back of Ratner’s,” played host to many theater and movie actors of the “Roaring Twenties,” as well as famous gangsters of the era. These gangsters included Bugsy Siegel, Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky. They were known to use the space for “business meetings.”
This could be the only bar whose bouncer directs you to the door.
- "The Back Room? Down here..."
He points to a metal gate with a Lower East Side Toy Company sign. Stairs take you down to a grim-looking alley. Rusty iron steps at the far end lead to a closed door. Be brave, go ahead, go inside.
It's dimly lit but sparkly. Smiling, attractive people cluster and dance beside a roaring-twenties mirrored bar running along the front wall. Paintings of saucy ladies leer provocatively from the sidelines.
Up some carpeted steps, a posh lounge oozes with period decor – red velvet settees, cocktail tables, and object d'art elegantly arranged in the warm glow of a fireplace and twinkling chandeliers.
With a nod to the days when booze was outlawed and consumed in secret, the Back Room's potent cocktails are served 'disguised' in teacups, bottle beer in brown paper bags, drafts in coffee mugs, and shots in espresso cups.
Secret Spots in New York City
Various trendy bars in the city pretend to be speakeasies. But this tucked-away night spot is the real deal – an authentic, clandestine drinking lounge that flourished during the Prohibition.
When you visit The Back Room, you use the same hidden entrance that was used 85 years ago during the Prohibition.
The vintage 1920’s décor, period pieces, and the secret room behind the bookcase, provide the perfect setting for a date, touristic escape, birthday party, film shoot, event, or a casual night with friends when you are traveling.
The Back Room and it’s history has been featured in many productions, including, HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire, New York Speakeasy Tour" and NYC-TV‘s “Secrets of New York.“ It is this rich and authentic history that sets The Back Room apart from other “speakeasies” of today.
Although the characters may have changed, the energy and ambiance remain constant. You won’t see any gangsters, but you might be a guest at an event for Pearl Jam, Martha Stewart, Paul McCartney, New York Magazine, Robert Plant or Adele.
Address 102 Norfolk Street (between Delancey and Rivington Street)
Phone +1 (212) 228.5098
Subway Essex St. (J, M, Z trains), Delancey St. (F train), Grand Central (B, D trains)
Bus M9, M14, M15, M21.
Hours Sunday–Monday 7:30 pm - 2am, Tuesday–Thursday 7:30pm - 3am, Friday–Saturday 7:3-pm - 4am