Perhaps eclipsed by the buzz of Don Hill’s, many under-the-radar projects are in the works for New York nightlife’s back-to-school season. While some neighborhoods are focusing on new openings – and non-neighborhoods are starting to call themselves “Kenmare” – many continue to draw inspiration from the past (not Steve Lewis’s past, but further back), hoping to add a dose of Mad Men elegance to nightlife. Here’s a shortlist of the most exciting developments destined to pack a big punch this fall.
Bars for Lucky Strike Guys n’ Gals Today, Guest of a Guest begged the question on everyone’s mind: Will new bars like The Darby and the Lambs Club restore the kind of elegance we’ve come to expect on Mad Men? Richie Akiva has talked about modeling The Darby – I had the stealthy pleasure of touring it last week – after Mad Men favorite El Morocco, and David Rabin, along with chef Geoffrey Zakarian, has collaborated on the Lambs Club’s 60’s atmosphere and classic drink menu. But the question remains: “Will people really dress up to go to dinner, will our ADD generation be able to stay in one location for the duration of the night, will we be able to put down our smart phones and make it through course after course with nothing but our conversation and a possible live band to entertain us?” If they do, I’m hoping my favorite old-school joint (and a frequent setting for Boardwalk Empire) Delmonico’s will also have a second coming.
Hungry for Something a Little Different After pulling teeth, nightlifer Matt Abramcyk (Beatrice, The Bunker Club, Smith & Mills, Warren 77) finally got the blessing of the Landmarks Preservation Commission to move forward with his plan to open a 100-seat Latin restaurant called Super Linda at the old Delphi Diner space on West Broadway and Reade Street. Super Linda will open sometime within year.
A League of Their Own I am completely jazzed that Aaron Bakalar, former Socialista gatekeeper and nightlife mainstay, has finally found a way to capitalize on the DNA of famous offspring like Annabelle Dexter-Jones, Gia Coppola, and Isabelle McNally. Bakalar just launched The Collaborative Agency, a creative agency focused on the representation, promotion, and management of significant contributors to the modern youth culture. Says the website, “The Collaborative Agency represents individuals directly engaged in the fields of fashion, music, film, and art whose inside perspectives grant them the unique ability to appear as true images of their generation and to provide distinctive insights into the state of the current market.” If you look at the endeavor from a business standpoint, even if the talent grows up to become garbage collectors (which they will not, since the roster is brimming with potential, but I’m just saying), their names will still be bold-faced in the morning papers. Since they’re born with a certain amount of access, the kids have the luxury of being “early adopters” (I will never willingly use the synonym “tastemakers”) of nightlife and culture. I’m interested to see how Bakalar will manage and promote his clients, and what affect his background in nightlife will have on the collaborations.
What will happen to the “Kenmare” Nabe? “Kenmare Street was once a lonely extension of Delancey Street, home to auto mechanics, psychics, and bodegas,” says the NY Post. “Once a total drag, Kenmare strip is the coolest new food strip in town.” Lovely of them to notice, but some locals aren’t too keen on the changing tide—especially with the Nolitan Hotel opening at 30 Kenmare this November. One of my favorite websites, Bowery Boogie, notes that the latest “trendy hotel monstrosity” is just the beginning. “It’s the newest ‘it’ spot, which is simply a euphemism for a gold rush of epic proportions. And the scene is already crowded: Travertine, Kenmare, and Village Tart are already heavy contenders.”
The Plaza: It’s What’s For Brunch I though it was a joke when I heard the rumor, but the Koch brothers, who run the popular “Day & Night” brunches at places like Merkato and East Hampton Point, are bringing their brunches of debauchery to the Plaza. If you thought Eloise was a terror (and I hope you did not), just think about what champagne bottles, sparklers, and people passed out on tables will do for the legendary hotel. Come to think of it, perhaps the brunches will be the wake-up call the Plaza has been in need of ever since the sleepy condos took over. Their first party will be held this Saturday.
New Openings to Try
The Hurricane Club For the Kitsch of It You may only glimpse snippets of it between deskside cocktail hour (every hour), but the Mad Men era was also the golden age of tiki cocktails, with Trader Vic-style bars in every city and town. This tiki joint from the Quality Meats peeps revels in a similar brand of inauthenticity. AvroKO did the design. Slurp booze from a coconut while nibbling ribs off a pu-pu platter.
Lincoln Bar Food Pair a splashy hypar (hyperbolic paraboloid, but you knew that) lawn in Lincoln Center with an ambitious pan-Italian resto under the command of Jonathan Benno (Per Se) and you get one hot rezzy. Hit up the bar for a quick drive by, and be the first to say you’ve already been. If you’re into that sort of thing.
Alphabet City New Bar Crawl Bedlam The folks of Eastern Bloc bring forth stylish retro cocktailing amid stuffed bears and assorted Victoriana. Try the Bedlam Cup, with Pimm’s, cucumber, lemon, and elderflower liqueur while lounging in the ginormous main space, complete with dance floor, top notch sound, and Anderson Cooper (his BF is a partner).
Billy Hurricane’s Another hurricane trope, this bar happens to be the Mardi Gras–themed Avenue B answer to Hooters. Hooters in the East Village—it’s blasphemous! But the kitschy décor—Bourbon Street mural, porch swings, and beading—feels Disney-enough to have a gander.
Idle Hands Basement spot keeps it simple: Bourbon. Beer. Rock. Latter represented in entryway with music-flyer collage. An equally bustling spot, Idle Hands shares the space with Billy Hurricane’s, boasting more than 70 bourbons, whiskeys, and ryes.