I looooooooooove a good cocktail, but not as much as I love a good speakeasy. While some people despise the trend of these dimly lit spots with over-priced, overly-complicated cocktails and often snooty waiters, I tend to gravitate to them purely for the lure of enjoying a well crafted drink behind secret doors. Yes, I admit it, as the nosy person I am, I fall for the marketing technique of emphasizing exclusivity and mysteriousness to tempt the curious passerby.
But for all the gimmicks, moustached bartenders, and ridiculous rules (no speaking at high volumes) you must suffer through to sit undisturbed at these places, I am continuously wowed by the ice cold, perfectly shaken drinks. The speakeasy treats its cocktails like an intricate art-form, and Bathtub Gin is no exception to the rule.
Bathtub Gin focuses most of its cocktails on its namesake, which the waiters will advocate is the most versatile alcohol there is. After drinking two Fernet Sides, a drink with gin, lime, and mint, I can’t disagree. And even more impressive is the great list of appetizers to choose from – a breath of fresh air when most speakeasies either don’t serve food at all (San Fran’s Bourbon and Branch once reluctantly gave me an olive upon request during a bout of extreme hunger) or pay little attention to crafting a cocktail-complimentary menu. The food options here are hearty, too – I loved the crab stuffed mushrooms , and the camembert, while served with a measly portion of bread, was some of the richest, most addictive camembert I’ve had.
To fit the reputation of a speakeasy in the traditional New York sense, there are many essentials. To name a couple: 1) Rude hostess and 2) clever mode of entry. Bathtub Gin wins in both departments, and makes up for the hostess with incredibly friendly waitstaff. Entrance is at the side door of Stone Street Coffee on 9th Avenue, with no sign of the cocktail bar outside – they’re really relying on word of mouth and proactive scenesters for their customers.
Bathtub Gin is a great option for a variety of occasions: a date, drinks with friends, drinks with co-workers, light bites and drinks with girlfriends before a night on the town, or even a drink solo. Considering its convenient location just blocks from Chelsea Market and my apartment, I have added this to my list of go-to drink spots.
Location: 132 9th Avenue btwn 18th and 19th Streets