PDT really guns for the speakeasy vibe, hidden as it is inside a hot dog shop on St. Mark's Place. Buzz the hostess from the telephone booth, and you'll be let in to the smallish, super-dark space. If there's no room at the bar--and there probably won't be--leave a cell phone number and you'll get a callback when seats open up.
PDT gets a lot of press for its bacon-infused old fashioned, but we just weren't tasting the pig in ours. Beyond the drinks, our bartender wasn't the most attentive, a complaint we've heard from our friends who have dropped in, too. (Btw, that's the mirror-encrusted bathroom pictured above.)
Also hyping speakeasy style but only partly delivering is The Back Room. Look for the sign advertising the Lower East Side Toy Company, and you'll know you're in the right place. (The bar's famously part-owned by Tim Robbins.) The decor is wild Victorian, the drinks come in teacups and the crowd is better than you'll find at most LES bars. Still, it can be kind of a scene, which is what you're trying to avoid at a speakeasy, right?
· New York Speakeasies Map [Jaunted]