Historians estimate there were 20,000 to 100,000 speakeasies in operation throughout New York City during Prohibition, a 13-year span from 1920 to 1933 when the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcohol was illegal nationwide. Of course, due to the clandestine nature of these drinking establishments, this “official” estimate from the New-York Historical Society is just that, an estimate. While we’ll never know of all the places where bootleg liquor was sold, there are many former speakeasy sites, and currently operating speakeasies you can still visit. Join us as we toast to the end of prohibition on Untapped New York’s new speakeasy tour where we’ll enjoy a drink at one of the oldest bars in the city and former speakeasy Pete’s Tavern!

Secrets of the NYC Speakeasy: Tour and Drink


This 2-hour experience in Manhattan starts at the Temperance Fountain in Tompkins Square Park—ironically located just steps away from a former speakeasy. Here you’ll discover how the grass-roots temperance movements of New York City rippled through the nation, ultimately culminating in a new amendment to the constitution.

As you stroll through the East Village and Union Square, you’ll discover former sites of lost speakeasies, some of the oldest bars still in operation like McSorley’s Ale House, and important landmarks such as the Jewish Rialto, German Dispensary, and St Mark’s Church in the Bowery which have connections to progressive movements of the 19th-century and early 20th centuries. By the end of the tour, you’ll be able to tell the difference between a proper speakeasy and what is called a Neo-speakeasy.

Pete's Tavern
Pete’s Tavern as a florist shop. Image Courtesy of Pete’s Tavern

The tour will end with a well-deserved drink of your choosing inside Pete’s Tavern, a former speakeasy that once disguised itself as a flower shop. This historic spot is famous for being a favorite haunt of writer O. Henry, who is believed to have written his famous tale, “The Gift of the Magi,” at one of the booths. At Pete’s, we’ll raise our glasses as the current proprietor regales us with tales from the bar’s captivating history.

Diana Pittet, co-owner of Night Owl Hospitality, a cocktail catering and education company in Asbury Park, New Jersey, is your guide for this experience. At Night Owl, Diana co-runs a monthly whiskey club. She has a master’s degree in food studies from NYU and teaches a graduate seminar at NYU on the history, culture, and politics of drinking.

This limited-run tour starts on May 2nd. Grab your tickets now!

Secrets of the NYC Speakeasy: Tour and Drink

A crowd at the bar of Pete's Tavern

Next, check out more Untapped New York Walking Tours!