3. KGB Bar/The Red Room, East Village
Though the East Village’s KGB Bar didn’t technically make its debut until the mid-’90s, it has been evoking feelings of “state secrets” through a dimily lit glow in “communist red,” since 1948. The building was first home to the generation prior to the bar’s founder, Denis Woychuk, as a way for McCarthy era, Ukranian socialists to keep their operations covert. Inspired by the shots of whisky Woychuk had with his father within the walls, he then morphed the location first into a gallery (which didn’t last through the stock market crash of the ’80s) and then into the bar it is today.
Since 1994, KGB bar has been a spot for both new writers and celebrated authors to come and share their work. In fact, the bar even published is own novel in 2002 entitled, On the Rocks: The KGB Bar Fiction Anthology, which highlights “provocative and bold works,” as Cabe writes, by both famed authors such as Mary Gaitskill and Dani Shapiro, as well as those “who have toiled in obscurity.” Its latest addition was formed as recently as 2014– the upscale speakeasy on the third floor known as the Red Room, which gives a 1920s feel (live music ensembles and all.)
Signature drink: Moscow Mule (along what continues to be its best seller– straight-up vodka)