For a brief spell this dimly-lit subterranean lounge at Broadway and Bleecker was a semi-private speakeasy called Woodson & Ford. But long before that, it was an underground beer hall owned by Charles Pfaff, who opened it in the 1850s. The space has recently been swanked up by the owners of the restaurant upstairs, Corner Shop Cafe. It's now called The Vault at Pfaff's, from an unfinished poem by Walt Whitman, who was a regular there.

As you can see, the Vault affects an atavistic bohemian literary vibe, with plush banquettes, antique chandeliers and bar accoutrement, and plenty of exposed brick. The cocktail waitresses slink around in vintage-looking threads designed by Project Runway's Christian Siriano, serving fastidiously-prepared cocktails in the $16 range. The food (small plates from upstairs chef Jaime Suarez) and drink menus are printed as old broadsheet newspapers, with an extra edition devoted to various notables who imbibed there, including Mark Twain. (The paper is styled after The New York Saturday Press, a Greenwich Village counterculture newspaper backed by the Pfaffs.)

Cocktails include The Smoking Revolver, made with Flor de Caña dark rum, canton ginger liqueur, house-made roasted jalapeño, fresh lemon juice, orange bitters; and The Subway Rumbles, which consists of Ballantine’s blended scotch, Bols Genever gin, house-made grenadine, fresh lemon juice, and fresh egg white. The Midnight Manhattan is made with the acclaimed Whistle Pig Rye, Carpano Antico sweet vermouth, and house-made bitters, while the Bleu Martini features G'vine Nouaison gin, Dolin dry vermouth, and a house-made "artisanal bleu cheese" olive.

Vault at Pfaff's Cocktails
Vault at Pfaff's Food Menu