Dina Avila Photography
Portland, Oregon, certainly has a beguiling, quirky side. But once you climb the unassuming staircase that leads to the Multnomah Whiskey Library and step beyond its frosted-glass door, you’ll find nothing but unadulterated elegance.
Dark paneling, exposed brick and oil-painting portraits give the high-ceilinged space (located in the Pearl District) a posh feel reminiscent of both a university library and a vintage old-boys’ club. Proprietor Alan Davis, known for successfully revamping southeast Portland’s circa-1974 bar Produce Row Café, opened the carefully curated thousand-bottle-strong shrine to whiskey last year after experiencing a jolt of inspiration at New York’s Brandy Library (25 N. Moore St.; 212-226-5545; brandylibrary.com).
Apron-donning bartenders (ask for Tommy Klus, the knowledgeable bar manager and head librarian) use sliding brass ladders to reach the high shelves. The impressive selections—ranging from a sherry-aged GlenDronach 15-year-old Scotch to a reimagined Irish mash bill from Oregon distillery Ransom—are rolled out to patrons on custom bar carts. A communal table was salvaged from a local library and topped with green reading lamps; cocktails like an impeccable Bobby Burns are a specialty. (Along with the whiskeys, there are 500 other spirits of all types.)
Crowds would impede the affable and conscientious service for which the bar is known, so there is room for just 65 guests at a time. Sidestep the typical three-hour waits by purchasing an annual membership fee ($500) that ensures elusive reservations, or go a step further and secure a private spirits locker ($1,250). Either way, with such an exhaustive collection to pore over, you’ll be in no hurry to abandon your fireside perch. 1124 SW Alder St.; 503-954-1381; mwlpdx.com.
Courtesy of Le Quartier Français
When Susan Huxter, owner of the boutique hotel Le Quartier Français in Franschhoek, South Africa, was unable to find a refined yet laid-back place in town where she could meet friends for an early evening drink or an afternoon tea, she created one herself. The new Le Quartier Lounge Bar, which opened in August, is meant to be more than just another hotel watering hole.
“We would like the lounge to be the meeting place in Franschhoek, where locals and our international guests can relax and enjoy good food, teas, cocktails and great company,” says Huxter. “It should be the place to relax and mingle in the area.”
The bar focuses on cocktails—the Edible Fruit Coupe (dried fruits soaked in Cape Brandy and Harnepoot dessert wine topped with sparkling wine) is pictured here. But there are also artisanal beers, wines and teas (by Lady Bonin’s Tea Parlour) that pair with delicious snacks by executive chef Margot Janse that highlight indigenous ingredients and locally sourced products. Try bites like Gruyère Oreos, wildebeest doughnuts, crayfish popcorn and flatbread with smoked salmon, avocado and spring onion.
Soothing decor and plenty of space make for a peaceful ambiance, and even the tall-legged, washed-oak bar has a buoyant personality that is more inviting than imposing in every way. “I did not want a dark masculine bar but rather a light, more feminine feel,” says Huxter. “We hope people will love it as much as we do.” Rooms start at $310; 16 Huguenot Rd.; 27-21/876-2151; lqf.co.za.
Romeo Balancourt for Hotel Le Bristol Paris
Once simply the place to be seen, Le Bristol Paris hotel is now the place to drink as well. After two years of planning, eight months of perspiration and roughly $4 million dollars of aspiration, Le Bar du Bristol opened at the illustrious hotel last week with a well-deserved round on the house for a gathering of loyal guests and Parisian socialites.
The décor, jointly designed by architect Pierre-Yves Rochon and owner Maja Oetker, is classic English lounge by way of Grand Palais Paris (a fruitful union, considering the neighboring countries’ contentious history). Highlights include floors of Versailles oak, bookshelves flanking the fireplace, richly upholstered armchairs, studded leather barstools and an Aubusson tapestry (circa 1740) of a Chinese garden.
True to the hotel’s dignified history as an 18th-century aristocratic hideout—the French nobility, not much for stomaching death, fled Versailles in 1715 for the Faubourg Saint-Honoré after Louis XIV died—almost everything in Le Bar comes with le pedigree. The English wild-pine paneling is from Esher, Surrey, and is more than 100 years old. The mantelpiece is a 19th-century marble affair from Sienna, Italy. Even Maxime Hoerth, the 26-year-old head barman, is decorated, designated Meilleur Ouvrier de France—the Best Craftsman in France—last year.
Pure tradition, however, is overthrown here, in part by leopard-effect gold silk upholstery and two frescoed murals (one on the ceiling) by Thierry Bruet. White-jacketed mixologists whip up new and classic cocktails, including signature varieties of the old-fashioned on a beautiful granite bar that hails from Montana. Raise a glass to Paris’s new, mixed-blood elite. 112 Rue de Faubourg Saint-Honoré; 33-1/53-43-42-41; lebristolparis.com.
Photo courtesy of Pink Elephant
After a running a string of outlets in South America and opening pop-up locations in Southampton and St. Barths over the last three years, Pink Elephant owners David Sarner and Robert Montwaid have returned to their New York roots. The updated nightclub, designed by Manhattan-based architect and special installation artist Bradley Rothenberg, opened in June on West Eighth Street in Greenwich Village. The 4,000-square-foot venue has three contemporary spaces: a lounge, a mixology bar and an Infinity Room, complete with black mirrors and LEDs. 40 W. Eighth St.; 212-777-1511; pinkelephantclub.com.
Photo by Noah Fecks
Just in time for the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, Stone Rose Lounge—one of the Upper West Side’s première cocktail bars—has developed a special drinks menu to celebrate the 2012 Summer Games. The libations are named for the national anthems of Italy, the United Kingdom, Greece, Spain and the United States and feature traditional ingredients from each respective country. The Brothers of Italy (pictured above), for instance, is a subtle blend of gin, Aperol and vermouth, with a splash of orange bitters; the Star Spangled Banner features bourbon, rhubarb bitters and strawberry slices. (The bar’s sister establishments, Whiskey Park and Living Room, will also be serving the drinks.) Sip with pride—the cocktails are available through August 12, when the games come to a close. Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Cir., 4th fl.; 212-823-9770; gerberbars.com.
Courtesy of The Double Seven
It is a familiar New York story: Hotspot closes for a vague reason (“overcrowding;” “unpaid fines;” “licensing violations”). L.B.D-wearing patrons are displaced and migrate elsewhere. Bar owners band together in solidarity to open a new incarnation of the old watering hole. Cocktail king Sasha Petraske is involved somehow, whether in person or in spirit. Interior designer is instructed to bring in some high-low element. New establishment makes a splashy debut with a Cinema Society screening after-party. Boldfacers show up. Media blitz follows. Flock of L.B.D.s returns—and so does the sizzle.
The latest version of this tale as old as time involves The Double Seven, the buzzy bar whose 14th Street location died a grave death in January 2007 (“landlord fight”). Recently, the new location opened on Gansevoort Street with a Cinema Society after-party for the screening of director Pedro Almodovar’s film The Skin I Live In. So far Mick Jagger’s been to the lounge. So has Madonna, Steve Martin, Antonio Banderas and Daphne Guinness. And so have we.
Once you enter past the large brass door next to the graffiti painting of Bob Dylan, the ambiance is luxe to the max. The bar top is made of crocodile embossed leather. The base of the bar is made of laser cut steel. The low cocktail tables are Balinese teak. For a nostalgic tug at the hemline, the front seating area is adorned with hand blown glass from the original venue. The bar staff has been trained in none other than Sasha Petraske’s cocktail method. There’s even a dedicated staff member whose job it is to makes the specialty ice (large balls, perfect cubes and crushed).
Go for the cocktails. The Eastside Cocktail, which can be made with gin or vodka, is a favorite; it's a little tart but refreshing due to the cucumber. And go for the volume level. The bar is geared towards conversation, so the music plays only to add to the ambiance, not to make it hard to hear or enable dancing on the banquettes. The door is discretionary based on space (capacity is 160). We recommend dressing like you mean it—and, of course, being respectful to the door persons, Mina and Armando. 63 Gansevoort St.