Above the Australian-inspired restaurant Burke & Wills on the Upper West Side, accessible via a tufted green leather door inside the dining establishment, is one of the few Upper West Side speakeasies. Keeping with the Australian inspiration, the Manhattan Cricket Club is all about, you guessed it, cricket, and is inspired by the colonial clubs of the old Empire.
The narrow upstairs space, three rooms in succession, is designed like a small apartment from the 1870s. The first room, with a small window, functions as a foyer with a wooden coat rack. The gold wallpaper, which begins along the staircase and spreads into the rooms, has a layer of flocked black velvet in a vintage-inspired pattern. The main sitting area is lined with books by Dickens and Maupassant on display, along with cricket trophies and vintage photographs. Wood paneling and a mirrored ceiling complete the room, with a chandelier of vintage glass sconces and a frayed Oriental carpet.
The bathrooms are cleverly hidden behind sliding doors that blend into the decor, whether behind the wallpaper or behind a mirrored wall. Even the toilets are vintage, but the real gem of the Manhattan Cricket Club is the row of private liquor lockers in the mirrored hallway, where members of the club can store the spirit or wine of their choosing. The club assists in acquiring the stock from anywhere around the world. While visits to the Manhattan Cricket Club are walk-in only for the public, members can make advance reservations.
The bar room has a tin ceiling, marble bar, an exposed brick wall and more vintage Colonial decor. Mixologist Greg Seider, who created cocktail menus for The Mercer Kitchen and the Minetta Tavern, helms the offerings at Manhattan Cricket Club with drinks inspired by the old British Empire outposts. There’s a mix of exotic flavors and local teas and herbs as evidenced in the Salt & Pepper cocktail is made with potato vodka with garden tomato essence, smoked black pepper and white truffle mist.
As a humorous touch, the menu is dotted with quotes about alcohol by famous people: “I drink to make other people more interesting,” said Hemingway. For those going high end, you can opt for the Martini Service and a Calvisius Caviar program, featuring 10 gram servings of osetra caviar that may be paired with half bottles of Gruet Brut or Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve champagne.
Downstairs, in Burke & Wills
You can also order food at the Manhattan Cricket Club, prepared by Burke & Wills, or eat at the restaurant first and then head up to the bar. The kitchen at Burke & Wills is helmed by Chef Rodrigo Nogueira, originally from Brazil and trained at the French Culinary Institute who comes from other New York establishments like The Four Seasons and Colicchio and Sons. Burke & Willis has its own seperate cocktail menu, currently with a distinctive Southeast Asian influence with ingredients including kaffir lime, Thai chili, lychee and lemongrass.
Far from the downtown cocktail craze, The Manhattan Cricket Club is able to maintain its welcoming, neighborhood feel. You won’t find the cozy, intimate experience interrupted by undesirable crowds because it’s simply too far from the fray, and its understated cool means it will always be a place to catch up with friends.
Discover more of NYC’s speakeasies in the book New York: Hidden Bars & Restaurants by Untapped Cities’ staff and available in our shop: