By Rachel Simons
Photos courtesy of Liam Cotter.
Please Don’t Tell (PDT) is located in Crif Dogs on St. Mark’s Place right off of 1st Ave and is not only considered a great speakeasy, but one of the premier cocktail bars in New York City. It is notoriously hard to get into. To reserve a table, you must call the number on their website promptly at 3pm on the day you plan to go and keep calling until you stop getting a busy signal. I did this 23 times before I gave up.
However, I found out that unlike their tables, PDT’s bar is first come first serve. If you show up at Crif Dogs a half hour before PDT’s 6pm opening on a weekday and sit next to the telephone booth that acts as their entrance, you can enjoy a hot dog while you wait and be quickly seated at six with no dramatic phone calling required.
If you manage to get into PDT, you are completely there for the cocktails. While the bar also offers a fine beer and wine list, each handcrafted cocktail is given a paragraph (yes a paragraph) in the little black book of a menu explaining both their origins and ingredients. Once you order, your drink is artfully made by kind, knowledgeable, and suspendered bartenders who are quick to give recommendations and answer questions about the spirits.
Altogether, my two friends and I tried the Hanami (red maple sake, plum brandy, St. Germain, Singani 63, and pomegranate seeds), the Tying the Sheets (Spanish brandy, Jamaican rum, walnut, and fig), the Black Flip (Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, black rum, and egg whites), the Shark (butter infused silver rum, Frangelico, Curacao, lemon, pineapple, cream and bitters), and the Benton’s Old Fashioned (bacon infused bourbon, Grade B maple syrup, and Angostura bitters). Each one was perfectly balanced taste-wise and none had a harsh alcoholic burn going down. Despite having a high price point (each cocktail is $15), PDT makes their drinks worth every penny.
Along with cocktails, PDT boasts a smaller form of Crif Dogs’ menu. I got a veggie version of their 2Pok Dog, which is fried in Pok Pok wing glaze and then topped with crispy garlic, roasted chile mayo, lettuce, cucumber, cilantro, and pickled daikon and carrot. The sweet and savory veggie dog reminded me of delicious Korean barbeque in mini form and I finished it in a matter of minutes. If I hadn’t been devoting the majority of my funds to cocktails, I probably would have gotten another one.
As expected of a high-class cocktail bar, the service was amazing. The moment I dialed the phone inside the booth, the hostess greeted us as she opened the door and then led us to our seats where she took our coats to be put in coat check. The bartenders were polite and professional, and watching them mix drinks was like observing a performance. The decor was made up of dark bare brick walls and taxidermied animals spread throughout the space. (There’s even a cocktail on the menu created in honor of the bear mounted next to the bar.)
Overall, the entire experience made me feel as if I was almost transported back to the ‘20s. I’ll probably have to save up a lot more if I want to go again, but once you visit this speakeasy, you’ll definitely find some reason to return.