For Americans living with an intellectually stunted President, never has there been a greater exigency for wit, wisdom and, well…booze.
The late, and very great Oscar Wilde, 117 years after his extravagant death (“I am dying beyond my means,” he infamously quipped from L’Hotel in Paris), perhaps offers the ultimate antihero image for our times. And the dashing, rhetorically biting libertine now has a namesake drinking establishment, which opened this week in New York’s Gramercy/NoMad…from where we might drink away the strain of our troubling daily reality.
One imagines the poet himself would take delight in the Oscar Wilde being located in the former headquarters of NYC’s Bureau of Prohibition. It’s also cousin to the Flatiron’s Lillie’s, which is an homage to his dear friend, the late British actress Lily Langtry. But it’s the bar’s authentic Victoriana that most enchants: antique fireplaces, painted Milanese glass, an 1880s English standing clock, an 1890s Belgian piano.
Nodding to Oscar’s eternal witticism, “Moderation is a fatal thing, nothing succeeds like excess,” it features Gotham’s longest bar, at 118.5 feet. And the selection of more than 300 whiskies on offer is complemented by drinks wizard Johnny Swet‘s Wildean-clever cocktail creations, like the 50 Shades of Dorian Gray, with Plymouth gin, cherry liqueur, Chinese 5 spice, and citrus, and the Oscar Wilde’s Potent Elixir, which features cognac, gin, Guinness, cassis, lavender, Champagne and orange zest.
Of course, in a city which worships long hours and breeds perpetual stress, the Oscar Wilde bar will surely become the perfect excuse to put into practice the Irish Bard’s wisest words of all: “Too much work, and no vacation, deserves at least a small libation. So hail! my friends, and raise your glasses, Work is the curse of the drinking classes.”