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The Lab
Photograph: Courtesy of The Lab

There's a secret bar within a bar in midtown Manhattan

Here is how to find it.

Written by
Anna Rahmanan
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Virtually every bar in New York is a must-visit destination, but it doesn't get much cooler than a secret bar within a bar. The Lab at Patent Pending, though, goes a step further. 

The Lab
Photograph: Courtesy of The Lab

The Lab is, in fact, a hidden cavern connected through a natural arch inside of speakeasy Patent Pending, which is itself accessible only through a hidden door in Patent Coffee, a cafe (by day) on West 27th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Think of it as a concealed bar within a secret bar within a public coffee shop.

Ryan McKenzie opened Patent Pending back in 2018. Housed inside the Radio Wave Building, the speakeasy references Nikola Tesla, the famous electrical inventor who actually lived on premise when it was still the Gerlach Hotel, in many different ways. From the menu to the decor, the radio theme clearly makes itself known here. 

Just last year, in 2021, McKenzie opened the tucked-away The Lab, which serves the same menu as Patent Pending. In addition to functioning as its own bar, the space can be rented out for corporate and private parties. Decor-wise, expect large mirrors all over the walls and blackened ones on the ceiling, plus an actual dance floor featuring the very penny tiles that adorned the original hotel. A total of five bar seats are complemented by a bunch of stools, a banquette that seats ten and another one that can accommodate up to 12 guests. You can even opt to use a separate entrance and avoid walking through Patent Pending (which, honestly, you should have a drink at as well!).

The Lab
Photograph: Courtesy of The Lab

The spot's recently rolled out winter cocktail menu exemplifies the superbness of the drinks that are always on offer at both Patent Pending and The Lab. Take the Science Fiction Factor, for example, which is made with Mexican corn whiskey, Urfa biber and smoked serrano-infused Fernet—stirred just the right amount, it's ideal for those craving a spicy imbibe.

Creativity, however, seems to always take center stage here. The Electrostatic Evening is the bar's own version of a warm apple cider and it basically turns into a milk punch while the Suspicions of Espionage is a riff on a pisco sour with wildflower, caramelized passion fruit and single malt Scotch.

Also a standout is the Mind Over Matter, a winter julep-style cocktail made with brandy, Tasmanian pepperberries and plum.

Back to actually finding The Lab: Head to 49 West 27th Street, ring the buzzer at street level, walk through the candle-lit coffee shop, find the hidden door that grants you access to Patent Pending and then ask to be directed to The Lab. A very New York-like experience indeed.

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