February 9, 2018
Two Seductively Secret Speakeasies Join the NoMad Bar Scene
NoMad has a long tradition of hard drinking dating back to the Gilded Age. Today our neighborhood has a kaleidoscope of bars . . . rooftop, country, jazz, wine, whiskey, specialty beer, and even one dedicated to Oscar Wilde. In the past two months, another category has been added by two speakeasies that add a new sense of secret pleasure and exclusiveness to NoMad’s drinking experience.
The first is a real speakeasy. The Life Hotel opened recently in the former headquarters of Life magazine. Now the hotel has opened its cocktail bar, Gibson & Luce, named for Charles Dana Gibson and Henry R. Luce, the founders of the magazine. Local lore says this space was once a speakeasy for magazine staffers during Prohibition.
Not only does the bar have the allure of a hideaway (one has to go into the hotel and take the stair behind the elevator to the subterranean space which requires an Instagram entry code), but you can almost feel the ghosts of Norman Rockwell and other Life writers and artists. As Zagat says, “Unlike many of New York’s other modern backroom bars, Gibson & Luce isn’t just a recreation of Prohibition-era drinking dens – it’s the real thing.
The bar is the brainchild of NYC restaurateur Stephen Hanson. Special throwback cocktails include the Little White Lie, with spiced rum, crème de violette, cream, lemon, and Laphroaig; Their First Quarrel, with ginger, apricot eau de vie, Amara blood orange liquor, lemon, egg white; and 1894, with blue gin, Dolin dry, orange bitters. Bar snacks created by Michael Vignola include goose fat potato knishes with caviar and crème fraiche; pizza bianca with black pepper ricotta, potato, and egg; and merguez meatball pizza with chili-roasted tomato and goat cheese.
The second concept may not be as authentic, but it is certainly original. Patent opened at the end of January in the Radio Wave Building. The building was a hotel during the turn of the last Century and Nicola Tesla resided here when he was making his historic radio wave tests. The shop has two personalities.
Patent is a coffee shop by day and a speakeasy by night. During the day, Patent Coffee offers specialty grab-and-go coffee, nitro cold brew, pastries, cookies, and chia parfaits, with bulletproof coffee coming soon. The pastries come from Pain D’Avignon and cookies are baked by the hour. It is a small, white, airy space.
Then, at 5 p.m. the doors lock and the 34-foot cocktail space, Patent Pending, opens. Guest ring a buzzer at street level and then pass through the candle lit coffee shop to get to the hidden doors that conceal the bar, which has been described by Urbandaddy as a “dark, sexy cave-like space.” The cocktail program comes from Dead Rabbit and BlackTail veterans Harrison Ginsberg and Nick Rolin and is divided into four Tesla-inspired categories: energy, frequency, vibration, and descent.
Cocktails include the Radio Wave, with Tequila, Mezcal, Agricole Rhum, basil, Thai Chile, lime, cucumber; the AC/DC, with Blanche Armagnac, peach, fennel, Genever, lemon, egg white and seltzer; and the Hit by a Taxi, Japanese whisky, Armagnac, sweet vermouth, pu’erh tea, curacao, and star anise. The bar also serves small plates including a bacon grilled cheese, a fried chicken sandwich, and tomato soup.
NoMad — The District that Inspires® . . . and always surprises with intriguing new experiences.
Gibson & Luce
19 West 31st Street, at Life Hotel
New York, NY 10001
Monday- Saturday: 5:30 p.m. -1:00 a.m.
49 West 27th Street
New York, NY 10010
Monday through Friday: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
49 West 27th Street
New York, NY 10010
Sunday through Wednesday: 5 p.m. to midnight
Thursday through Saturday: 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.