I stopped by the Raines Law Room the other night. This is the new Flatiron speakeasy-themed cocktail lounge that can’t buy any love, because speakeasies are just so last year. Or so the cocktailians say.
My own theory is that the theme is outdated only when the customers stop visiting, and Raines doesn’t have that problem. They were already about half-full at 6:00 p.m. on Friday night, and pretty close to fully committed an hour later.
The speakeasy motif is everywhere you look. The storefront (a former antique store) is unlabeled, and there’s no phone number nor reservations taken. You ring a doorbell to gain admission. (If they’re full, the host takes your cellphone number, and you cool your heels somewhere else till he calls.) The “bar” is an upscale kitchen counter—as if this were somebody’s basement, and the “lounge” their living room.
The main room is a plush, pretty space. As I was alone, the host gave me the option of “visiting the kitchen,” without mentioning there was nowhere to sit. No matter. I chatted up the bartenders and had a couple of cocktails ($13 ea.), rye and bourbon based, with balanced, forward flavors.
Some of the modern cocktail ritual is just a gimmick (hand-crushing the ice—can anyone really tell?), but they’re doing a good job here. The place could use some food. The only option offered is a $15 plate of miscellaneous munchies (cheese, sliced meat, olives). They ought to be able to improve on that.
Oh, and in case you didn’t know, “Raines Law” refers not to a school for attorneys, but to an 1896 prohibition-like law that restricted alcohol sales in New York. So drink up and enjoy.
Raines Law Room (48 W. 17th St. between Fifth & Sixth Avenues, Flatiron District)