The last time I was at Rose Bar, I explained to my friends Nick and Garrett, it was for an installment of Nur Khan’s Rose Bar Sessions—for Rufus Wainwright— and I ended up passing out early. Okay, so the correct way to say it would be that I blacked out early, waking up on the bathroom floor—my bathroom floor, thank goodness. The same thing happened the time before, when I’d stopped in for a “relaxing” post-work cocktail. Rose Bar is like that: one minute you’re discussing the merits of black coffee with Penn Badgley, the next your walking around in circles in the night air. It’s as if the place is filled with fun house mirrors that distort reality and fool you into thinking you’re extremely elegant as you slide down a slippery, wine-drenched slope. Maybe it’s because you feel like you’re part of the ambiance, and under the Keith Haring art, the elegance is vodka-proof. A fortress of refinement. Last night, we were in the front bar, curled over a candle-lit table debating the enduring mysticism of the place as Tony Danza strolled by with Alan Cumming. Maybe spotting Tony Micelli wasn’t out of the ordinary, considering we’d just enjoyed a show put on by Liza Minnelli herself, kicking off the fall season of Monday Rose Bar Sessions.
Minnelli performed several selections from her new album, Confessions, but of the six songs she performed, the highlight had to be “He’s a Tramp.” After escaping from yesterday’s rain storm, the first thing we felt comforted by was the fire place, the second hearing Liza perform in her jazzy, joking way. It just worked: a random dude stabbing keys on a big, beautiful piano, Liza tossing back her head to lyrics like “what a dog,” while Alan Cumming, Nur Khan, Mary Louise Parker, Tony Danza, and Sandra Bernhard sat together. A guest next to me whispered to her friend, “It’s okay if you have to cry.”
That’s Rose Bar, or perhaps that’s Nur Khan, who is the fun house, creating mad-cap, jazzy evenings by curating the right people, the right performers, the right ambiance. While he’s been fleshing out Don Hill’s with acts like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Courteny Love, Minnelli’s performance might just have set a new tone for Rose Bar’s concert series, moving away from showcase-rockers like Slash and Dave Navarro to achieve an almost tongue-in-cheek, refined vibe at the Gramercy Park Hotel’s hotspot. That’s New York, isn’t it?
(Photo: Seth Browarnik/WorldRedEye.com)