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Love Is In the Air at Hyatt Times Square’s Bar 54

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Friday Feb 21, 2014

The Hyatt Times Square (135 West 45th Street) in New York City shared the love this Valentine's Day with the opening of Bar 54, the rooftop lounge that serves up bespoke cocktails along with a stunning view of Midtown Manhattan. The staff hopes that the lounge, which is located on the 54th floor of the newly built hotel, will provide visitors and locals alike with a slice of the Big Apple.

"This is the highest rooftop bar in New York City, and we think we are bringing something that the area really needs," said Hyatt Times Square General Manager Richard Morgan. "It is designed to give people what they really want: not to experience a Hyatt, but to experience New York City."

The vibe of the lounge is akin to a Meatpacking District club, but with considerably less attitude and geared towards tourists and New Yorkers alike. Where other hotels might have sleek metal and stylized flourishes, Bar 54 creates a warm, welcoming environment through the use of staggered wood paneling, lush banquettes arranged in conversation pits and wing chairs with blurred geometric patterns. Imagine a wedge of über-cool Brooklyn magically transported to West 45th Street.

There are two bars: one at the front, and another in the back, near the doorway to the long outdoor terrace, which features additional seating and breathtaking views of the city.

The staff is appropriately hotel-friendly, with none of the snap judgments one might encounter at a club with a velvet rope. At the front bar, three handsome bartenders deftly mixed up specialty cocktails, as envisioned by renowned mixologist Julie Reiner, owner of Clover Club and Flatiron Lounge.

Top-Notch Cocktails on the Top Floor

Specialty drinks during a recent visit included the Port Wine Cobbler, with ruby port and Remy Martin VSOP; the La Rosa, a lethal mix of tequila and champagne, with a pansy floating atop; and Rhapsody in Rye, a winning mix of rye and vermouth that the bartender coined "the Brooklyn Manhattan." Served in a coupe glass with a sliver of orange peel, it was the hit of the party.

Over by the back bar, two sentinels kept their vigil by the punch bowl, serving up dainty glass mugs of the Green Submarine, a delightful blend of Pimm’s, gin, green chartreuse, ginger syrup, lemon, cucumber and soda. Light and fresh with a hint of spice from the ginger, it is a perfect rollout for their spring menu.

"Everything is made fresh in-house, which is one of the luxuries of having a first-rate kitchen stocked daily with fresh fruits and simple syrups," said Brendan. In his uniform of a purple checked shirt and skinny suspenders and sporting a pointy beard, he looked like a young Amish man who had decided to spend his Rumspringa tending bar in Manhattan.

It takes a snack worth its salt to stand against artisanal cocktails like these. And the kitchen did not disappoint, sending out tiny pots of chicken liver pate with a persimmon reduction atop; pork sliders with crumbled bacon and pickled cukes; and tiny cauliflower tarts topped with a hint of remoulade and mache greens.

The lounge will serve up similar upscale bar foods; a staff insider spoke of huge charcuterie plates at a very reasonable price point, and delicious spare ribs, served up with lots of those pickled cukes featured on the sliders.

A View Not to Miss

Director of Food and Beverage Amit Verma didn’t move all the way to New York City from Chennai, India, to see this project fail. He told EDGE that his staff would be flexible and tweak the product to meet the guests’ needs. The Hyatt Times Square has nearly 500 rooms, but Verma believes that it won’t just be hotel guests that find their way to Bar 54.

"It is our hope that during the early part of the evening and weekdays, a lot of people from local businesses and Broadway will come here for after-work drinks," said Verma. "Then we feel the crowd will change around 9 p.m. to draw hotel guests and neighborhood people. The biggest reason we saw to open Bar 54 is that there are plenty of bars in Times Square, but no place to get a decent cocktail. We saw a market for that clientele, and between that and the view, Bar 54 is worth the experience."

To create your own Bar 54 experience at home, make one of mixologist Julie Reiner’s signature drinks...


Build in a mixing glass:
2 oz. Bulleit Rye
¾ oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth
½ oz. Ramazzotti Amaro
½ oz. Benedictine
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Orange Bitters

Stir in a clean mixing glass over Kold Draft cubes and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish: Orange twist

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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