From a traditional marketing perspective, Please Don’t Tell might sound like the wrong thing to name your bar. But in our city, where exclusivity begets popularity, whispered secrets can pave the road to success. Except Please Don’t Tell—the East Village’s newest speakeasy, which opened in late May—is no longer a secret.
Its surreptitious subterranean location, however, does endow it with a certain mystique that, once you’ve crossed the threshold, makes you feel like you’ve discovered an unknown hideout akin to the Bat Cave.
PDT is housed in a former bubble teahouse next to Crif Dogs on St. Mark’s Place. To gain entry, go inside Crif’s, slide into the phone booth along the western wall, pick up the phone and, if you know the password, a door will open from the other side. Actually, there is no password. And you don’t have to know the right people or wear product in your hair to get in. You just have to fit in, literally. And with a capacity of 50, space is limited. So call ahead—they start answering the phone at 3 p.m. for same-day reservations.
“We don’t want people breathing down each other’s necks here,” says owner Brian Shebairo, explaining why he doesn’t fill the lounge until it’s standing room only. “We want to keep it down, this ain’t a frat house. You may not get in every time you want to, but when you do get in, you’ll be happy.”
This approach seems to be working, as everyone I’ve talked to when I’ve been there has said the exact same thing, “This place is cool.” But it’s not too cool for school, if you know what I mean. In fact, it’s the most chill, least hipster-infested bar in the neighborhood.
Exposed brick walls adorned with taxidermy trophies meet a low, warped ceiling disguised in a pattern of carved timber. Behind the mahogany bar, aproned gentlemen carefully pour cocktails that were created specifically for PDT by hired-gun mixologist Jim Meehan.
Esoteric ingredients like Aperol and Aquavit stud the curious, somewhat ambitious menu; but don’t fret, they serve common drinks like martinis and bourbon-and-cokes, too. I recommend the tequila-based El Diablo ($11), or the Captain Lawrence Smoked Porter ($4). As a bonus, you can also order burgers, fries and ’dogs from next door without ever having to get up from your comfy seat.
Before you leave, there are two things you shouldn’t miss: the inlaid diorama near the front door, a surreal forest populated with nudists, fairies and the Gestapo; and the bathrooms, where floors, walls and ceilings are tiled in shattered mirrors set by the Mosaic Man, revered Village artist Jim Power. Although mounted plaques lay down the rules—No Opium Smoking and No Cocaine Peddling—these powder rooms seem to encourage lewd, illicit behavior. But whatever goes on in there, please don’t tell.
Please Don’t Tell
113 St. Mark’s Place (near Ave. A)