I think I'm about to be mugged.
It's nighttime in Manhattan. We're walking down a sketchy alleyway that cuts under a dilapidated building. Dirty rainwater drips down the graffitied walls as we sidestep puddles and cigarette ends. An old man leers at us from the shadows, points a gnarled and crooked finger and grumbles, 'That way.' Covering our
nerves terror with laughter and flippant remarks that we could turn up dead in the Hudson in the morning, we follow his direction. With mounting trepidation, we climb the flaking metal steps...
Think 'New York', and somewhere down the line (perhaps after the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building), your mind will turn to the roaring twenties, prohibition, and wild nights in a secret speakeasy.
It's an era that grips the imagination: F Scott Fitzgerald; flapper fashion; and the setting for my absolute favourite, Some Like it Hot. It's a hidden glamour that has always fascinated me, so when I learned from a friend that you can still visit a speakeasy in Manhattan, I knew I had to try it.
The Backroom Bar is located at 102 Norfolk Street, Manhattan. You need to take the address, because there are no signs advertising it. (Find number 100 and number 104; if you're in between the two, you must be in the right place.) The only sign is for the 'Lower East Side Toy Co', the letters individually and roughly stuck onto a grubby white board, tied to a gate.