Bar Review: Forty Four

Last Friday evening, a group of mostly young, mostly beautiful people arrived to the Royalton Hotel's plush runway interior. Some took a straight path back to the dark, vast space and golden spotlit cocktail bar (others swerved a bit) where a punchbowl awaited glimmering with the spice of nutmeg and the mischief of Jamaican rum. The other guests were similarly mostly young and beautiful with older international types and L.A. overdone sprinkled in behind a VIP border. Various interludes of pursuit, resistance and surrender could be observed from a distance leading one to wonder what the criteria for velvet rope crossing involved. Tales of Philippe Starck's legendary lobby (now a redesign) and the Café Condé crew (now less literati-glam) loom over the present incarnation's vie for return to the inner circle of boutique Times Square, and if a tipping point exists, it may be at Forty Four's intelligent new cocktail menu. Hotel bars are too often for vodka-sodas and too-many-olive-martinis, and rarely for the well-built Singapore Sling. Though behind a velvet rope, it's lovely to see a mini-dressed blond order a Champagne Cobbler and her elder suitor a heavy-handed Reconciliation (rye, Amaro and house made orgeat over a beautiful block of ice). Of course, not all Midtown types are up for an adventure of mezcal swirled with lime juice, yellow Chartreuse, agave and Maraschino, but the interlopers looking for this well-mixed Other Word cocktail will be the crowd that brings the Royalton back.

Forty Four
44 West 44th St.

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