147 1/2 Mercer St., nr. Prince St.; no phone
What: The second coming of subMercer, the Mercer Hotel’s subterranean lounge, has wasted no time reclaiming its exclusive status: Mark Ronson parties there, Albert Hammond Jr. spins there, and BlackBook’s already christened it the “next Beatrice.” Which, practically speaking, means you’re not getting in. But there’s hope!
How: First, try hitting up the reservations-only spot at firstname.lastname@example.org, knowing you’ll get their automated response asking for name, size of party, and, um, relationship to the subMercer. Ask for a reservation between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., Thursday through Saturday, which are the club’s current operating hours. But if the safe route fails, get crafty: try renting a room at the Mercer. The concierge won’t guarantee a key card equals lounge access, but we can’t imagine operating from the inside could hurt.
356 Bowery, nr. 4th St.; 212-388-1655
What: Housed in the former Marion’s Marquee space, Antik is a narrow, boudoir-dim space from Retreat’s Larry Kramer and Craig Koening (they also own King’s Cross, just downstairs from Antik). Waitresses clad in black bring out all drinks from behind a curtain in the back, beyond which, Wizard of Oz–like, lies the great unseen bar.
How: Antik bills itself as a “semi-private cocktail lounge,” but don’t let that trip you up; unlike would-be peers PDT or Death & Co., there’s no secret passageway or near-impossible door barring entrance. There are only eight tables, so making a reservation on the weekends is a good call. On the weekdays, however, Antik’s all yours. And, finally, a tip from Grub Street: If you do somehow fail to gain entrance, indulge in one of Marion’s “perfect martinis,” waiting just next door.
505 West St., nr. Jane St.; 212-929-4303
What: Former Bungalow 8 doorman Armin Amiri’s Socialista is airlifted from an idealized forties Havana, complete with wood-shuttered windows and Cuban jams. The door, manned by Jeffrey Trunell, hasn’t loosened much since first opening last year.
How: When Grub Street spoke to Trunell for Ask a Waiter, he was full of helpful tips. First of all, come early: The window of opportunity is more or less shut if you show up a ways past 10 p.m., when the club opens. Make sure you’re put together—no one particular look will do the trick, but creative flourishes (like a “cool hat”) help (seriously). Don’t show up with too many dudes (duh); don’t offer money. And, finally, don’t lie about knowing the owner. One girl, Trunell says, “put me on the phone with a guy pretending to be Armin … I begrudgingly sort of admired her.”
409 W. 13th St., nr. Ninth Ave.; 212-255-1933
What: The name, a reference to a passenger drop-off area in an airport in the South of France, isn’t the only import: The D.J.’s (Stan Courtois, Philippe Paris), the booze (Veuve Clicquot), and the clientele (an “upscale, very international mix of Europeans and South Americans,” according to co-owner Corey Lane) have all gone through customs. Decadence rules the day, with a ceiling tapestry, powerful strobe lights, and 28 dance-floor-side bottle-service tables, each equipped with its own elevated dance platform.
How: No big secret here: Lane estimates that 50 percent of any given night’s guests are from the list, culled from “a steady following of regulars” that the partners have accumulated over the years. The rest are well manicured walk-ins, so shape up, spring for bottle service, and you should be fine.
Gramercy Park Hotel, 2 Lexington Ave., at 21st St.; 212-920-3300
What: Ian Schrager’s Gramercy Park Hotel is a study in exclusivity, and Rose Bar is its shiny nightlife epicenter. Art from Warhol, Basquiat, and Julian Schnabel (who helped design the place) hangs on the walls, around which fashionistas congregate.
How: After 9 p.m., reservations are required. Requests are taken—but not necessarily fulfilled—at email@example.com. Creative director Nur Kahn plans out the night’s seating plans himself and claims he knows 90 percent of any given night’s crowd. Those staying in the hotel are given free rein of the bar in the afternoon, but after 9 p.m., only a small number of the hotel’s guests are rotated within Kahn’s handpicked list.