Going small is all the rage, from micro apartments to micro museums. Launched quietly in 2017, there’s also New York City’s smallest speakeasy, Threesome Tollbooth. The bar holds just two guests and a bartender and is located in a tiny broom closet in an undisclosed Brooklyn location in East Williamsburg. If this sounds somewhat dubious, rest assured. Stepping into the Threesome Tollbooth is like entering a custom, curated world with floor to ceiling dark wood paneling, a two-person leather banquette, old-world touches, and plenty of cocktail accoutrements. The experience costs $100 to $120 per person, bookable online.
For further assurance, interested guests may recognize the man behind Threesome Tollbooth, N.D. Austin, under his Night Heron Speakeasy initiative. You may remember the last two Night Heron experiences in New York City which made a big splash: the water tower speakeasy and a rather unforgettable night in an abandoned station under the Manhattan Bridge. We’ve been to the previous Night Heron events, so when we received an email about Threesome Tollbooth last March, we made sure we were one of the first to experience Threesome Tollbooth.
There’s a sense of showmanship to the experience, with your bartender (either N.D. himself or cocktail expert Jesse Sheidlower), at the helm. First, you get an email the day of the experience with the address to show up at a “solid metal door” and a phone number to text for entrance. You’re led down a long graffiti-lined brick alley, into a restaurant (no longer in operation but with furniture still around), then into one small closet, only to discover that you are going into an even smaller space. Part of the wall folds down and becomes your table, facing the bartender. He might ask you to choose your adventure, creating a custom cocktail menu on a hand drawn paper. At each step of the adventure, you’ll choose one idea or another – the accompanying cocktail will come with a story and even, sometimes, a performance. Even though Threesome Tollbooth has a speakeasy feel, the founders are adamant this is a bar, not a speakeasy, because they are legally renting this space.
The Threesome Tollbooth is not for everyone. You have to come with a sense of wonder and you have to be willing to be taken on a personal journey – it is after all, just two of you and the bartender. You have to be excited about the boldness of such an idea and to be genuinely in tune with the concept that wonder can be created out of anything, especially here in New York City. The whole experience hinges on one person, and your receptiveness to it, so the intimacy and the sense of surprise must be something you seek. We certainly enjoyed it, and feel that Untapped Cities readers fit in this category.
New tickets for Threesome Tollbooth are released around the middle of each month. For the second “season” of the tollbooth, they’ll be serving Smoked Alaskas (a surprising combo of gin & mezcal), Mamajuana Flips (springing from potent Dominican rum), among other cocktails. The next ticket release date is February 19th but you can sign up for a waitlist on any day the bar is running. For Valentine’s Day, there’s a special deal that includes a handmade gift card, champagne, a pewter Threesome Tollbooth flask and a take home gift. Cameras are not allowed and as a testament to what has been created, there is almost no photographs of the actual Tollbooth on media or social media.
Next, check out our list of hidden bars in NYC.
Michelle is the founder of Untapped New York. She is the author of Secret Brooklyn: An Unusual Guide, New York: Hidden Bars & Restaurants, and Broadway. She is a graduate of Harvard College in the History of Art and Architecture and holds a master’s degree in urban planning from Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where she is an Adjunct Professor of Architecture.