There was a time when just a secret entrance made a bar cool, but today’s watering holes are going beyond hidden front doors to hushed menus, available only to tipplers in the know.
We’re giving you the inside scoop on three spots offering under-the-radar sips. So, order a cocktail from one of these secret menus and delight in knowing something your friends don’t.
The six pours on this menu are the yakuza cocktails, named for the infamous Japanese organized crime syndicate, and each name is a nod to those notorious roots.
Every drink has a base of Japanese whisky plus tea and a modifier, like The Wandering Samurai — a nod to the kabukimono, 17th-century wandering samurai who formed the yakuza — that’s made with rose tea, crème de violette (the modifier) and Akashi White Oak blended whisky.
Another secret drink to try is the Kabukimono, created with the same whisky plus jasmine tea and lemongrass falernum, a Caribbean syrup liqueur.
Lantern’s Keep slings pre-Prohibition cocktails, meaning drinks that don’t include vodka (it wasn’t being served then) but, instead, use bourbon and gin. These include An Italian in America (bourbon, coffee liqueur, absinthe and orange bitters) and the Night Train (gin shaken with honey, cream and raspberries).
Monthly, the Manhattan bar also serves a mystery cocktail and holds quarterly five-person, 45-minute cocktail-making classes.
Note: Lantern’s Keep is closed through July 2019.
Dungeons & Dragons and cocktails do not go hand-in-hand — except at this Italian restaurant in Boston’s North End. The dining room, with its pressed-tin ceiling and tufted leather banquettes, in no way resembles the basement where bespectacled youth tend to play D&D yet, at the bar, there Matt Schafer is, handing out 20-sided dice.
The 20-drink hidden menu, all a part of a game called “Dungeon Master,” is Schafer’s brainchild. To play, ask for a Dungeon Master card, then roll the dice. The rules are strict: whatever number you roll, that’s the cocktail you get. Only if you’ve had the secret sip before can you roll again.
If you roll 19, for example, you’re getting the Dutch Martini (Bols Genever — a Dutch spirit distilled with juniper — gin, vermouth and kummel, a liqueur flavored with cumin, fennel and caraway seed).
Taste every drink on Dungeon Master and you’ll move on to Dungeon Master II — a second set of 20 tipples — and the team will craft a complimentary custom cocktail in your honor.