The Alphabet City space that once housed the notorious 40C has undergone a complete metamorphosis. What used to be a dingy, run-down bar in a relatively dingy, run-down neighborhood has transformed into a posh lounge destined to draw crowds to Avenue C. Bedlam, named after the first insane asylum in London, opened its doors this past week, offering a new hang-out spot for those who like to feel old-world in a modern way. Non-crazies Sara Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Anderson Cooper, Solange Knowles, and Alan Cumming made it to the opening fete earlier this week. The new bar and lounge captures the mood of late 19th-century parlor life—think Edith Wharton or Robert Louis Stevenson. It’s obvious that owners Benjamin Maisani (Anderson Cooper’s rumored squeeze) and Pablo Raimondi, along with bar manager Sam Chiera, put a little heart into the new space: the walls are papered page-by-page with Victorian-era novels and dictionaries, and an eclectic array of carefully selected taxidermy adorns the walls and shelving units, including a glass case filled with birds, a large moose head, and a baby black bear still baring its teeth. There’s also a weird obsession with anatomy, so expect some things you once experimented with in science class.
Thankfully Bedlam isn’t a showy, out-of-place jewel box of smartness; the flavor of the neighborhood and the former space is retained with the exposed brick wall and original, red vinyl benches. The back room—slated to host private events—still features 40C’s generous-sized bathroom and skylight (in addition to—surprise!—more animal heads).
Creative cocktails like the Sagamore House—named after Teddy Roosevelt’s country house—will be available for whoever’s feeling fancy, but the average hipster can still order their Bud. The new bar has also plucked some top DJs from well-known establishments like Santos, Heathers, Le Bain at the Standard, and the former Mister Black, so expect—dare I say it—bedlam.