Blustery winds and frigid, wintry temperatures on Thursday nights in New York are prime conditions for getting your drink on. So, last night I met up with a friend, who suggested that we try Raines Law Room in the Flat-Iron district, next to the Chelsea Hotel. This new "speak-easy" is named after a law that prohibited all establishments, except hotels, from selling liquor on Sundays. As a legal subterfuge to continue the sale of booze to patrons on the day of rest, bar owners proceeded to construct make-shift rooms for vacancy around their saloons that obviously facilitated all sorts of illicit behavior. But there is nothing illicit or seedy about this high-end, dignified speak-easy. The tin ceiling panels, brocade patterned walls, brass mirrors and plush, tufted, velvet sofas give the room a stately, yet still intimate quality; and the service is quite good---unpretentious, approachable and friendly.
All the ingredients are fresh and the cocktail menu is quite special, invented by mixologist, Michael McIlroy (Milk & Honey). You can choose your drink from the menu or the specials the waitress outlines, but you are also free to request any cocktail of your choosing, or ask for a recommendation, provided that you give them some guidance to your preferences, i.e. liquor base, ingredients, etc...
Had I not consumed the number of cocktails I did, I would have remembered the actual names of the best ones. I asked for a gin-based cocktail that was refreshing. The waitress came back with some concoction that included cucumbers, salt, pepper and lime juice. Simple, yet peppy delight.
Note: We arrived around 8:30 and there was no wait.
Raines Law Room
48 West 17th Street
Between 5th and 6th Aves.
Ring Buzzer, Will not seat parties of 6 or more.