THE RAINES LAW ROOM AT THE WILLIAM
24 East 39th St
A dark, cozy space with the feel of a Victorian house; it’s adorned with a fireplace, antique furniture, and a book-lined library.
The bar is designed to feel like a traditional Victorian house, with a cozy bar room and a traditional English library room adorned with bookshelves, couches and a fireplace. The space is dimly lit, the music is very quiet, and the furniture is big and soft.
The Raines Law Room owes its name to Raines law of 1896, authored by John Raines. This obscure law was designed to curtail the alcoholic consumption of working men who made a habit of spending all day Sunday drinking in saloons. Way before the Prohibition, this law attempted to prevent out-of-hand drinking enabled by the spending of a hard-earned weekly salary on alcohol instead of on family needs. According to this law, only hotels could serve liquor on Sundays, and only to the guests.
As with the Prohibition, the good intent of the law failed to produce the desired result and ended up doing more harm than good. Since a hotel was loosely defined as an entity with 10 lodging rooms or more, the saloons quickly figured out how to transform themselves. All a saloon had to do was to simply add small furnished rooms and obtain a hotel license. As a result, many “Raines law hotels” continued serving alcohol on Sundays but now effectively supplemented it with prostitution.
The Raines Law Room cocktail list is divided into 3 categories: Bright & Fresh (with citrus & seasonal fruit), Stirred & Strong (spirit-forward & made to sip) and With a Hint of Spice (with an extra kick).
There is also a bespoke option – “Choose Your Own Adventure: Old-Fashioned” – where you get to pick your bitters, sweets, and spirit. While some love this option, others believe that for $15 the drink is best mixed by a professional.