The Insider

Raines Law Room: This former speakeasy is deliberately hard to find

At Raines Law Room your night will begin with an unsmiling face. The rest will be truly magnificent, writes Holly Baxter

Tuesday 07 December 2021 21:30
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<p>The first thing you’ll notice is that the speakeasy refuses to compromise its edgy vibe by giving you decent lighting</p>

The first thing you’ll notice is that the speakeasy refuses to compromise its edgy vibe by giving you decent lighting

Just off a side street from the bustling Union Square in lower Manhattan, down a few basement steps and behind a nondescript door, is my favourite cocktail bar in New York City. This former speakeasy is deliberately hard to find, and you have to know where you’re going and what you’re seeking: if you press on the plastic doorbell and stand back, it might take 10 minutes before someone opens the door and presents you with a silent, unsmiling face. Proceed with confidence, however, and they’ll try and find a seat for you in the dark room behind the curtain they’re stationed in front of.

Inside is Raines Law Room, an extremely dimly lit New York institution comprising plush velvet sofas divided into booths by soft curtains. When you’re ready to order an eye-waveringly expensive cocktail off the extensive list (I recommend any of the kind with a tequila and jalapeno base, though my usual drinking companion swears by the Old Fashioned), you press a button by your assigned seat (anyone who’s tried out the “press for champagne” button at Bob Bob Ricard in London will be familiar with the concept.) An immaculately dressed waiter arrives seconds later and takes your order, returning with glasses of filtered water and, if you’re lucky, nibbles as accompaniments.

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