It’s no secret that I like exploring in my own backyard — NYC has an endless supply of things to do. I’m all about finding local and authentic experiences wherever I go, because I believe the coolest things aren’t limited to tourist destinations or sightseeing — they’re the places locals brag about.
So of course, I was excited when I discovered Urban Adventures, a tour company that handcrafts experiences led by local experts. They have tours all over the world, so you can go to pretty much any destination and expect a top-notch local-approved view of the city.
Over the weekend, I played tourist in my own city and went on a cocktail tour of the East Village, which is actually the neighborhood I was lucky enough to call home when I first moved to NYC. I love that the tour integrated places I had already been to with a couple of spots that were new to me.
The tour is thematically organized around a history lesson of prohibition in the city, and combines the modern ideas of the destinations with the history of the area.
We met up in Tompkins Square Park, just a few blocks away from where I used to live. Our first treat was cupcakes from Prohibition Bakery, a boozey cupcakery that actually injects their cupcakes with alcohol. The alcohol isn’t cooked out, so you definitely get a kick from the small bites. For all of my out-of-town readers, you can order the cupcakes online — I definitely recommend trying them.
The next stop was the Blind Barber, a personal favorite of mine. The Blind Barber is a small, two-station barbershop by day, and hidden in the back is a surprisingly large speakeasy-style bar. (By the way, there’s a location in Williamsburg as well, and you can read about it in my post on my favorite coffeeshop/bar combos.) The “Strawberry Fields” cocktail is only on the seasonal menu, but if you get the chance, that’s definitely what you should order (and you can thank me later). Shout out to Gnocco for the delicious hors d’oeuvre they brought over to our little spot at the bar.
Our tour guide, Brian (who’s also the food blogger behind Eat This NY) described the next location as the type of place that you could easily walk by without noticing — and New Yorkers do (myself included). Later, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t checked it out before. The William Barnacle Tavern was probably my favorite part of the tour. The building has a rich and interesting history with a story filled with gangsters, stolen money and a murder mystery. But you’ll have to go on the tour to get the scoop.
We moved on to Astor Wines and Spirits for a tasting, a quick lesson on how spirits are created, and learned about locally-owned distilleries. We finally ended at Sweetwater Social, another spot that was new to me. The space is a fun and relaxed environment to end the tour on (and also makes for a great start to your weekend).
If you’re looking for a truly unique and innovative way to discover a city, I highly recommend checking out the Urban Adventures tours. And, exclusively for my readers, you can get $10 off your first experience by entering the code CULTUREDEAL when you purchase your ticket by the end of August. Visit www.