Employees Only

Lounge / Restaurant
Employees Only ""Employees Only is a ridiculously popular ""secret"" speakeasy in New York's West Village. Find out why this NYC bar is always busy with Party Earth."" New York United States 40.7334702326849 -74.0062075853348
3.1 12
Employees Only - Lounge | Restaurant in New York.
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Ratings:
Lucas
Adriana
Jonah
Emma

Party Earth Review There’s little more than a neon PSYCHIC sign out front, but just past the clairvoyant reading cards and behind the curtained door awaits a hardly secret speakeasy called Employees Only. Dubbed one of the “50 Best Bars... ... read full review

  • Subway:

    1, 2, PATH: Christopher Street-Sheridan Sq / 7th Avenue; A, B, C, D, E, F, M: West 4th Street / 6th Avenue

  • Phone:

    212-242-3021

  • Links:

  • Hours:

    Daily 6pm–4am
    Kitchen open until 3:30am

  • Recommended as:

    • Night Spot

Party Earth Employees Only Review

The Scene

""Employees Only is a ridiculously popular ""secret"" speakeasy in New York's West Village. Find out why this NYC bar is always busy with Party Earth.""

There’s little more than a neon PSYCHIC sign out front, but just past the clairvoyant reading cards and behind the curtained door awaits a hardly secret speakeasy called Employees Only.

Dubbed one of the “50 Best Bars in America” by Food & Wine in 2011, the venue’s 20s vibe is obvious, from the pressed-tin ceiling and rich mahogany walls to the collection of vintage art and the crackling steel-plated fireplace.

Handlebar-mustached mixologists behind the small curved bar continue the retro theme, their white coats stained by the arsenal of fresh fruits and tinctures incorporated into drinks like the gin shaken with homemade hibiscus and the chai-infused vermouth mixed with pomegranate.

Antique bottles line the shelves around the high-ceilinged dining room, where creative guys looking to impress their dates bite the bullet on the elk loin and trendy ladies pretend they aren’t going to lick the plates clean of those bacon-wrapped lamb chops.

The bar’s popularity promises a mixed bag when it comes to clientele, whether it’s cocktail connoisseurs and speakeasy purists or budding celebrity hounds hoping to spot co-owner Piper Perabo.

Often wall to wall by 6pm on Fridays and Saturdays, the venue can be equally vibrant on Sundays thanks to a late-night burlesque show known to get a little rowdy.

Vibrating with energy, Employees Only is the kind of bar patrons wish they had all to themselves, which explains why they all seem to show up at once.

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Tip from Jonah:

Ask for a table in back and order the steak tartare, which they prepare right at your table. If you’d rather spend your cash on the drinks, get the Staff Meal, which is a $13 daily special that’ll coat the stomach a bit but save plenty of room for the killer cocktails.

  • Crowd

    Artists, cocktail snobs, first dates looking to impress, scenesters, birthday groups, yuppies, and anti-yuppies, 20s to 40s.

  • Entertainment / Music

    Music is manned by the employees but usually falls on the side of rock, 80s, and funk.

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    Small but diverse menu of upscale plates like elk loin, bone marrow poppers, and oysters. Regular menu ends at midnight; smaller late-night menu served till close.

  • Prices

    Appetizers and sides $7–$16, salads $11–$14, entrées $24–$45. Beer $8, wine $9–$15, cocktails $15–$16.

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Creative casual to trendy: skinny jeans, artsy t-shirts, vintage plaid, casual cocktail dresses, Etsy attire.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    The place can be packed any night, so those who equate quiet with romantic and are looking to bring a date will want to show up at the stroke of 6pm. Patrons in the mood for a packed house and a bit of a wait at the door will find both on Fridays and Saturdays, as well as potentially on Sundays for the free burlesque shows that start around midnight.

  • Close By

    Little Branch (20 7th Avenue) is a bare-bones speakeasy from mixologist great Sasha Petraske and offers simpler but carefully crafted cocktails and frequent live jazz.

Employees Only User Reviews

Average rating:
Discover the Joys of Drinking
Casey D. Apr 2, 2013
By the time I had discovered Employees Only, the secret was already out about this supposed “hidden” speakeasy-styled joint. But, that still did not detract at all from how cool of a drinking spot this is. I don’t care who you are, anytime you have to find a barely labeled bar front that masquerades as a psychic’s parlor, and then have to pass through a secret, curtained doorway, you immediately feel ten-times cooler. And the mustachioed mixologists tending bar in period-appropriate vests and arm garters only add to the overall clandestine hooch-joint ambiance. They also happen to be extremely knowledgeable and friendly, and will recommend or whip up a perfect cocktail to fit your taste and mood. And make no mistake, this really is an establishment dedicated to the grand ole pastime of leisure drinking, with good friends and good times. And while the steak tartar (with requisite toasted points) I shared with my date was fairly delicious, it was a bit overpriced (even by NYC standards) and it was money that in hindsight I wish I had spent on another rye Manhattan, one of the best I’ve ever had.
Fun Place, occasional dick door policy
Mark S. Dec 12, 2012
Ive been here a few times. Usually busy, sometimes very packed. Great drinks, good food, good bartenders, fun atmosphere. However, I went here once for a birthday, and I couldn't get in. I understand places have space limits, but the bouncer was manning the door like it was a club. I came with two friends (guy and girl) and he said I couldn't get in, too full. I said I was here for a birthday and said the name, he wouldn't let me in. He then let in a few couples and some girls that got there after we did. My friend came to the door to try and tell the guy to let us in for the party, but he wouldn't do it. Prick.
Fun bar to start the night
Nicole H. Nov 28, 2012
Contrary to popular opinion, I went to EO on a Friday night and didn't find it overwhelmingly crowded. My friend and I were greeted at the door by a female (bouncer? hostess?) and escorted in immediately. In fact, she walked us up to the bar and ordered us her favorite drinks so that we didn't have to wait. Both drinks were strong, but one in particular was the strength of 3. I couldn't finish it. Despite the mishap on this one drink, the other was quite good. And the crowd was appealing. A good place for an afterwork drink, or to start off your night. Wouldn't stay longer than an hour though.
Love this place!
Risa C. Nov 22, 2012
As people mentioned, this place can get quite packed, but I tend to not go on Friday and Saturday nights when the crowds are the heaviest. The bartenders here are some of the most friendly and knowledgeable you'll come across in the city, and they give awesome recommendations if the large cocktail menu intimidates you. I've been here quite a few times, and have yet to try a drink I didn't like, but their Pimms Cup has to be my favorite. The times I've eaten there I really enjoyed everything I had - I hate tomato soup and theirs converted me. And on an unrelated note, last time I went during the early evening Adrian Grenier was sitting at the bar....swoon.
EO
Jaclyn W. Nov 13, 2012
Exactly, Employees Only because this place is so packed all the time, the only people who have true standing and breathing room are their "employees only." I'm not sure why everyone raves about this place. Yes, it is a cocktail bar, but I can definitely name about ten other places I would rather spend my night then here. The bar is awkward. A tiny walkway space that leads both to the bathroom and eating area is the only thing to stand in and is situated between the bar and tiny tables. Drinks take forever to get even if you are flashing cash in front of the bartenders faces. I get that it takes a while to make a drink because some of them are intricate, but I would hope they would taste better than some of the concoctions on the menu for that amount of time. If you want to go to say you've been to this semi "speakeasy," go for the experience not the drinks. If you have to order, try the Lazy Lover or Amelia. I have not tried the food, but I hear it's alright.
TOO Crowded
Alicia B. Nov 4, 2012
I've been here twice, and both times it was an affront to my personal space. They squeeze as many people as possible into this small bar area, and force patrons to wait half the night for a seat at their even tinier dining area. Good luck trying to get to the bar, as it's nearly impossible without accosting the people to the right and left of you. For some place masquerading as trendy and sophisticated, getting out the door was like shoving my way through a frat party. As other reviews have mentioned, the food is not great. I'd go a step further and say the drinks are not worth the drama, and you can certainly find an equally or better crafted cocktail with that same speakeasy/clandestine thrill at somewhere like Little Branch or Milk and Honey, and I'd throw in Ward III if you want the lively atmosphere as well but executed with a little more panache.
A Fun but Pricey Spot
Jacqui J. Sep 14, 2012
Employees Only is undeniably stylish and is a killer place to go if you feel like taking your inner Gatsby out for a night on the town. The bartenders and wait staff are all extremely helpful and knowledgeable about their cocktail list, which in addition to original concoctions offers an acceptable selection of beers and whiskeys. The drinks are pricey, even for NYC, but the mixed drinks pack enough punch that you can sip them for a while. Employees Only is a good time, but it is strictly a place to drink and chill—the food is only passable and not worth its high price tag.
Employees Only - How fitting
Lauren A. Aug 3, 2012
It's evident "Employees Only" takes good care of their staff as their "mixologists" bios are displayed on the menu and the in-house psychic continues to get a seat at the front door. EO serves delicious, inventive cocktails (go for the Ginger Smash) and has a sexy, speakeasy feel which is always crowded. Don't feel you need to go for dinner as the food is not as cared for as the drinks.
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