PDT, New York City
Drinks: Strong. Atmosphere: Intimate. Price: About on Par. $12. Food: Hotdogs...
We’re probably breaking the cardinal rule of a place named Please Don’t Tell, but what the fuck, right? What better way to kick-start our new Barfly feature than by offering up one of New York’s best-kept secrets?
Well, maybe not best-kept; PDT has become a landmark for those in search of unique NYC nightlife. Hidden in back of Crif Dogs, an otherwise inauspicious late-night wiener dive in the heart of the East Village, PDT caters to a diligent crowd: the same-day, reservations-only speakeasy opens up its phone lines at exactly 3 P.M. and is usually packed full shortly thereafter. Accepted guests are given specific instructions (secrets we won’t divulge here) for entry and asked to arrive on time.
Once inside it’s easy to understand why securing a booking in this place is so secretive and sought after: the eerie glow of the backlit bar is straight out of The Shining. The walls are adorned with all manner of big game. The candlelit round leather booths are from a different time. Even the clientele seems to get in on the act, throwing sly, secret, now-you-know nods as you pass. And with strict cellphone rules (as in don’t use ’em), this is a speakeasy in every sense of the word: a hideaway from prying eyes, crafted from exposed brick and rich wooden frames, the back room to end all back rooms.
But like any true speakeasy, the ambiance is outdone by the bartending. Chief Mixologist Jim Meehan has ensured the place stays true to Prohibition Era principles by offering patrons a wide range of stiff drinks to start the night rolling (or wrap it up on a 3 A.M. reservation). It’s a cocktail list tailored to the seasons; through the years it has amassed some 300-plus different drinks (all available in Meehan’s latest book The PDT Cocktail Book, but good luck trying to replicate them), all made by expert mixologists with mesmerizing technique.
All told: PDT is a welcome throwback to a bygone era, a place where the mystique of the speakeasy collides with high-end mixology and turns out one of the best bars the City That Never Sleeps has to offer. As a side note: Crif Dogs are also insane.
You should know: If you want a reservation you need to be on the phone at exactly 3 P.M.; this place fills up fast.