Is Ian Schrager’s Bar Chrystie NYC’s Most Gorgeous Nightlife Space?

It’s easy to forget the things that most excited us just a couple of short (or possibly long) years ago, before a deadly pandemic came along and wreaked havoc upon our overall sense of priorities. After all, it seemed absurd to be concerned about cancelled fashion shows and postponed Strokes tours when thousands of people were dying every week from the insidious virus that continues to hang over our lives some 24 months after it first so significantly altered our existence.

One of those wonderfully frivolous indulgences that was forced to the back burner was the privilege of sipping an expertly made cocktail in particularly extravagant surrounds (think: Dear Irving, The Campbell Apartment), the sort that likely added $3 to the price of each drink…but that we never doubted was worth every penny. Ian Schrager gave us a few of those, most memorably the Rose Bar at the now sadly defunct Gramercy Park Hotel. And just when we needed it most, he’s done it again, with the opening of the absolutely jaw-dropping new Bar Chrystie at his buzzy PUBLIC hotel on the Lower East Side.

Image by Liz Clayman

The hotel itself had been such a galvanizing force for the Downtown cognoscenti since it debuted in 2017, that even two years of on and off lockdowns haven’t managed to dull its luster. And following the arrival of the new ground floor Peruvian restaurant Popular, launched with a splashy, celeb-studded –  Zoë Kravitz, Helena Christiansen – bash last June, the addition of Bar Chrystie will pretty much assure that PUBLIC will be a mediarati magnet well into 2022.

Mr. Schrager, of course, is a chap who gets around. And for inspiration he knew exactly where to look: Harry’s Bar in Venice, where the Cipriani empire was first launched back in 1931, and Bar Hemingway at the Ritz Paris, where everyone from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Princess Di once took their evening tipple. So yes, it all feels decidedly Euro-tastic, with its plush seating, dark, elegant woods, and opulent Baccarat chandeliers.

The cocktail program by master mixologist Robert Krueger smartly eschews fleeting trends for clever reinventions of classics, with the Silk Road Sour an update of the 19th Century gin sour, the Autumn Rose a modernization of the classic negroni, and the Carmina Granada taking its inspiration from The Rolling Stones’ beloved tequila sunrise. There’s also a dedicated Peruvian influenced selection of tipples by Chef Diego Muñoz, including the Capitan Cacao, his pisco-infused version of a Manhattan, and the Huascaran, which can be ordered with Royal Salute 21 Year old Scotch for $55.

“The cocktail program is firmly rooted in the classic mixology canon,” Krueger explains, “with an emphasis on barrel-aged spirits that explore a range of oak origin, level of char and age of barrel. The drinks have been reimagined with elevated, fresh ingredients, rare and fine spirits and theatrical presentations.”

As to the latter, the Champagne Boilermaker may come in at $125, but it gives several times that back in theatrical value – with shots of Grand Marnier Cuvée Louis-Alexandre garnished with 24K gold-covered sugar rosettes, which cascade into a coupe of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut Champagne.

Still, as Schrager himself puts it, “At the end of the day, luxury isn’t about materiality. It’s about spirituality. It’s not about how much something costs. It’s about how it makes you feel.”

And Bar Chrystie definitely gives the feels.

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