During the period known as Prohibition, which was from 1920 to 1933, the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcoholic beverages was illegal throughout the United States. That’s when speakeasy opened business.
Speakeasies were hidden sections of an establishment that were used to illegally sell alcoholic beverages during Prohibition. Some speakeasies were similar to today’s clubs, as there were singing and jazz performances. To enter a speakeasy, one would need to say a password to the doorperson so that the doorperson would know whether or not they were really secret agents. It has been said that for every legal saloon before Prohibition, at least half a dozen speakeasies were put up after Prohibition. This was most likely because being the manager of a speakeasy was easy money.
The word “speakeasy” came from a bartender’s term: people were supposed to “speakeasy” when at a bar, meaning not to draw any suspicion towards buying alcoholic beverages by looking nervous or talking quickly.
Speakeasies largely disappeared after Prohibition was ended in 1933, and the term is now often used to describe some bars that are inspired in this period’s establishments.
NYC has a lot of this bars with an old-world charm. Here goes a list of some recommendations I got:
15 Vanderbilt Avenue, Midtown
100 3rd Avenue, East Village,
48 W 17th Street, Chelsea
9 Doyers Street, Chinatown
46 Essex Street, Lower East Side