Large swaths of New York’s bar and restaurant scene are known for their exclusivity. We’ve all seen an obnoxious line in front of a club and kept on walking to find a dive bar one block further where a beer and a shot awaited us. I also don’t like dropping names or cash to get past said lines because, honestly, I’m never that impressed by the crowd that’s inside. That being said, there are a few spots marked for their exclusiveness that I highly recommend because it’s not about the line outside that makes them exclusive, it’s about knowing that they even exist.
Bohemian, a Japanese Restaurant in the NoHo area, is a referral-only establishment that is accessed through the back door of a butcher shop. With no listed telephone number or website, the only way you can make a reservation is to know someone who has previously dinned there and is willing to refer you to the hostess (i.e. give her your number). Once you’ve secured your first reservation, you can continue to dine there as you please and impress all your friends or Tinder dates.
Threesome Tollbooth is possibly the most exclusive bar in all the boroughs due to its size being that of a tollbooth. This bar’s capacity is two guests and a bartender. The brainchild of J.D. Austin — who gained notoriety a few years back when he converted a shutdown water tower into a jazz bar — Threesome Tollbooth’s lore is that it was designed by Austin to win his ex-wife back, and it fucking work! If this bar can mend broken marriages, sounds like there must be some magic involved. Don’t show up unannounced (not that you could find it as it’s located in a refurbished supply closet of a shut down Italian restaurant) they take reservations weeks in advance via their Tock Portal.
Covert Cocktail Club is the only good thing that has come from my late night, mindless Instagram scrolls. It was there that I saw this speakeasy tagged in a post and was highly intrigued by their whiskey-filled handle, @covertcocktailclub. A few weeks later a group of friends and I showed up to our 9pm reservation at an unassuming brownstone in Brooklyn with the idea this was either going to be weird as hell or blow our minds. Spoiler: it blew our minds. The proprietor lets you into his home (fireplace and recorded player both ablaze) and proceeds to deliver three delicious cocktails and a parting shot conceived from liquors you’ve never seen (hello, Mexican Fernet, where have you been all my life?!). Book your experience in the next two months because the doors will be shut for a while upon the birth of the proprietor’s second child.
Frequent fliers of United who travel upward of 100,000 miles per year received an email a few months back with the subject, “It’s Classified…” And Classified is indeed, well, classified. Ironically the most exclusive restaurant in all of Manhattan is located in Jersey, at the Newark airport to be exact. If you are one of the 1K fliers who was invited for a meal, you will be met at security and escorted to this restaurant only the elite of the elite have ever seen. In the meantime, don’t mind me eating my stale bagel while schlepping my bag past your champagne flute in first class. A girl can always dream.
Written by Veronica McCarthy
Feature image via Punch