Summer in Manhattan is even better after the sun sets. From frozen cocktails in Tribeca to unmarked Chinatown lounges to the swankiest new hotels in town, here are the best places to kick back—or stay out until a new day dawns.
DANCE PARTY: Follow the Leader
Years before he began throwing parties in New York City, Travis Bass worked in corporate event planning. When the recession hit, business slowed, so he ventured out on his own, doing things his way, planning ragers for his friends instead of clients. A trip to Berlin was the catalyst. “I saw people throwing these amazing parties in rooms that couldn’t have cost more than a few thousand dollars,” he says. That led to his $6,000 conversion of a rundown Chinese restaurant into an underground nightclub. Bass and business partner Simonez Wolf called it Madame Wong’s, and the party that was supposed to last a few weeks became Manhattan’s buzziest nightclub in 2011. For a time the impresario drew a late-night crowd at Red Egg on Centre Street, but now you can find him holding court most Thursdays through Saturdays at his Inga party at Chrystie 141 on the Lower East Side. He says it’s a throwback to nights spent at Twilo or the Sound Factory. In Bass’ own words, “It’s dance your ass off.”
The Hot List
Four newcomers to the scene are quickly becoming the city’s hippest joints, where the beautiful people flock and the drinks flow.
Mark Birnbaum, Eugene Remm and Michael Hirtenstein have cracked the code on creating white-hot boîtes. Their empire includes Abe & Arthur’s, SL and Tenjune, as well as SL East in the Hamptons. Add to that Catch, a four-story seafood restaurant in the Meatpacking District with Top Chef winner Hung Huynh in the kitchen and boldfaced names at every table. It’s one of the few dining destinations where the fun begins when the meal ends. Climb the floating copper staircase to the rooftop lounge to dance off that Dungeness crab spaghetti into the wee hours of the morning. 21 Ninth Ave.
The allure of the Dream Downtown hotel in the Meatpacking lies beneath its lobby: Take the brightly lit ramp down to the Electric Room, the latest nightspot from Nur Khan. The super-exclusive basement club (capacity 100) has a tightly guarded door, so make friends with the right people to ensure endless nights of Champagne-fueled dance parties. If you’re lucky, you may just run into Mick Jagger. 355 W. 16th St.
For Parisian debauchery without the jet lag, hit the New York outpost of Le Baron in Chinatown. French artist, filmmaker and general bon vivant André Saraiva spent about two years overseeing the renovation of a defunct Chinese karaoke club, but its sexy interior has made it worth the wait. (So has its addictively sweet signature cocktail, Le Baron, a blend of Champagne, vodka and strawberries.) 32 Mulberry St.
Upstairs at Super Linda you’ll find the gorgeous clientele nibbling South American fare such as tostadas do esquites and croquetas, but to see what owners Matt Abramcyk (The Beatrice Inn, Warren 77, Tiny’s) and Serge Becker (La Esquina, Miss Lily’s) are really made of, head downstairs to the sexy lounge, order some frozen drinks at the bar and get your groove on on the dance floor. 109 W. Broadway
NYC’s latest microbrewery officially started when two roommates began experimenting with home-brewing kits in their East Village apartment. Now Jeff Simon and Jason Yarusi, of Alphabet City Brewing Co., are busy cranking out kegs of their Easy Blonde ale to some of the hottest restaurants in New York, including Gabe Stulman’s Fedora and his latest venture, Perla, on Minetta Lane. Look for a brewpub from the duo when they “find the right fit” in the East Village or ABC.
LISTEN UP: Fashionably Late
The fashion crowd knows cool, so when designers such as Marc Jacobs and Prabal Gurung, and magazines like Purple and Dazed & Confused, began hiring Mike Nouveau to spin at their parties, he unofficially became the most sought-after DJ in town. “Fashion parties are my favorite because they’re the most fun,” says the 28-year-old, who took the plunge and embraced his after-hours gig when he got laid off from his day job about three years ago. Now he’s regularly booked to play Fashion Week events in London and Paris, plus local clubs like Electric Room and PH-D, at the Dream Downtown, and his venue of choice, the Soho Grand. Nouveau can’t quite explain the secret to his success. “At the end of the day,” he says, “I think it’s just a popularity contest.”
HOTELS: Beyond Room Service
Hotelier André Balazs recently acquired the former Cooper Square Hotel and converted it into The Standard East Village (25 Cooper Square, 212.475.8200). The hotel sits on the ultra-hip Bowery, and Balazs is planning a revamp certain to be a hit with the see-and-be-seen crowd. A few blocks uptown, in the Flatiron District, is the new NoMad Hotel (1170 Broadway, 212.796.1500), set in a gorgeous, 1903 Beaux-Arts tower. Developed by the team behind the nearby Ace Hotel, the NoMad was designed to feel like a Parisian apartment. It’s also home to a new restaurant from the award-winning owners of Eleven Madison Park, Daniel Humm and Will Guidara. Their latest venture, NoMad, offers a unique spin on bottle service in its library: a bar cart with your choice of spirit and bartender-approved mixers.
OFF THE GRID: Doyers Street, Take Two
Heather and Chris Tierney have become masters at creating swanky cocktail lounges where even the most recognizable celebrities feel comfortable kicking back. But the siblings seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to exploring uncharted neighborhoods in the city. In 2008 they opened the perennially hip Apothéke on Doyers Street—the most crooked and little-known road in Chinatown. “We definitely stood out as the only non-Chinese-owned business on the block,” Heather says. “Most businesses closed by sunset.” Now, the Tierneys have given the glitterati another unmarked den on that same strip: Pulqueria, right next door to Apothéke. “It’s inspired by the street markets and taquerias of Mexico City,” Heather explains. Pulqueria has already hosted its fair share of glitzy after-parties, and on any given night you might sidle up to the bar next to Jude Law, Calvin Klein or Olivia Wilde. Just be prepared to give your cabbie directions. 11 Doyers St.
RUSSIAN IMPORT: Vodka, Caviar and High-End Karaoke
Having conquered the nightlife scene in Russia, Tatiana Brunetti, 32, is quickly leaving her mark on Manhattan. Two-and-a-half years ago she helped bring the wildly successful caviar and vodka mecca Mari Vanna from Russia to NYC; now she’s turned her sights to karaoke. Jelsomino, in Midtown, is an over-the-top karaoke-nightclub hybrid imported from Moscow and outfitted with state-of-the-art lighting and speakers, a giant stage… even backup singers. Brunetti, who hails from Kiev, Ukraine, says some customers pop in two or three times a week. Outposts are slated to open in Miami, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., but for now the entrepreneur is enjoying summer in the city. “Here,” she says, “everything is available—whatever you can conceive.” 204 W. 55th St.
GOLDEN OLDIES: Vintage New York
The Village Vanguard (178 Seventh Ave. S.) is as cool as it ever was—and best of all, it still occupies the same Greenwich Village space it’s called home since 1935. Legends from John Coltrane to Miles Davis to Bill Evans have jammed in the basement, and its current roster of performers keeps its solid reputation intact.
Midtowners needn’t head downtown to catch today’s greats, like Diana Krall and Ravi Coltrane. Swing over to Birdland (315 W. 44th St.), named for jazz hero Charlie “Bird” Parker, to see why it’s been commemorated in songs by Ray Charles, U2—even Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.
If cabaret is more your speed, head to Times Square and check out The Rum House at the Hotel Edison (228 W. 47th St.), where the cocktail experts from Ward III in Tribeca have resurrected one of New York’s most classic piano bars. For some good old-fashioned fun, dress to the nines and work your way east to the Waldorf-Astoria (301 Park Ave.). The illusionist Steve Cohen puts on a show of parlor tricks in the hotel’s penthouse on Friday and Saturday nights.
Graydon Carter enlisted cocktail maven Julie Reiner (Flatiron Lounge, Clover Club and Lani Kai) to update the menu at his Monkey Bar. Reiner satisfies non-traditionalists (try the Monkey Gland, a mix of gin, pomegranate molasses, orange juice, absinthe and orange bitters) and old-schoolers alike. 60 E. 54th St.
NEXT UP: NYC’s New New Scene
The mega dance club in Chelsea that closed more than two years ago returns this month in a new Greenwich Village locale. The latest incarnation, on West 8th Street, is smaller than the original, but you can expect the same world-class DJs and high-energy club fun that the previous Pink Elephant was known for, plus a stellar cocktail program. 40 W. 8th St.
Experimental Cocktail Club
French owners Pierre-Charles Cros, Olivier Bon and Romée de Goriainoff have just opened an NYC branch of this Paris-based bar on a quiet stretch of Chrystie Street on the Lower East Side. Choose from some 14 expertly mixed cocktails, or do like they do on La Rive Droite and order a bottle of Champagne. 191 Chrystie St.
The corner of 16th and Ninth is already one of the busiest destinations in the nightlife sphere, but in spring 2013 it will be home to the second NYC Tao, slated to open in the Maritime Hotel. The new downtown branch is rumored to cover more than 20,000 square feet—almost double the size of its original Midtown location—making it one of NYC’s largest restaurants. 363 W. 16th St.
The big news this summer is the potential resurrection of Amy Sacco’s legendary club that ruled NYC’s nightlife scene for much of the aughts and spawned spinoffs in London and Amsterdam. Sacco and LDV Hospitality zoned in on a spot nine blocks south of the original, but Community Board 4 nixed it. Our fingers are crossed for another round of Sacco-inspired fun.