'Post' Drinker Declares War On "Secret Bars"

Secret bars: Kind of awesome, or also kind of annoying, especially if one has to enter it through a phone booth in a cheesy hot dog stand as one does at PDT on St. Mark's. We've made our peace—but one woman has had enough! In the Post, Maureen Callahan declares war on PDT. The weirdest part of the story isn't that this article (secret bars are so over) has been written about many times before (here and here and here) but that Callahan picks such an unassuming target.

HEAR about the latest top-secret bar in Manhattan, the one tucked away inside an unassuming downtown restaurant, accessed by a secret compartment outfitted with a white phone, a hidden camera and a steel door? The one that also invited nearly every food writer in Manhattan to its preview, and—just one month later—has been featured in a half-dozen newspapers, and on Thrillist, UrbanDaddy and Citysearch? The one that also has its own Web site, with the phone number listed on its home page?

In the unlikely event that the answer is no, this new spot is called, without wit or irony, Please Don't Tell. It's at 113 St. Marks Place, located in Crif's hot dog stand, and its deadly mix of coy furtiveness and crass, commercial transparency has effectively demolished the faux speakeasy as a New York night life concept.

"So many people have been like, 'What kind of speakeasy is in the press? Or publishes their phone number?'" admits PDT's Jim Meehan, who designed the cocktail menu. "We're not a speakeasy. A speakeasy is a Prohibition-era bar," he adds helpfully. "We are evocative of a speakeasy. It is not Milk and Honey."

Did you hear that, Maureen? "We're not a speakeasy," he said. No matter. Lady goes on a rampage. She calls the owner's desire for publicity shameless and decries the clientele. (Bankers: so she has a point there.)

The only place she has somewhat kind words for is nearby Angel Share, that old standby on Ninth Street. "Angel Share, it should be noted, has never pretended to be a speakeasy, which is why it is so enjoyable," she writes.

That the secret bar trend is on its last legs was never in doubt. But what happened to Maureen Callahan that night at PDT, among the cocktails and banquets of her secret place?