If it weren’t for The Lambs Club and when I’m feeling old school, the bar at the Algonquin, I’d be at an utter loss when searching for a watering hole near my offices on the outskirts of Times Square and the Theatre District, an area littered with pubs, sports bars and cheesy hotel lounges with spaceship-worthy lighting.
Fortunately, the new Paramount Bar in the Paramount Hotel defies any such categorization. The small—by New York standards—ground floor space felt eons away from the 46th Street strip on which it is situated when I paid a visit at a preview party Tuesday night.
“The location was almost opposite to my vision. You walk out that door and it looks grimy 42nd Street, 8th Avenue. And you come in here and it’s beautiful,” said Susan Jaques who designed the black and crimson-hued space (the venue officially opens April 12th).
Instead of fluorescent lights and dark, seedy booths, you are greeted with a trio of glamorous crystal chandeliers, lipstick red, mohair velvet banquettes and custom-made gold-topped black tables. The bronze, mirror-backed bar glows with hand-blown Murano pendant lamps and is flanked with a row of Maurice Villency black leather stools; there are plush taupey-grey sofas with crushed velvet Donna Karan pillows (“they reminded me of old Jean Harlow dresses”) and Le Corbusier chairs as banquette alternatives. Two blown-up black and white photos, one of Brigitte Bardot, another of 50s era tuxedoed movie stars drinking champagne, bookend the room.
“I wanted to go sexy and glamorous and really make it the kind of bar where you could feel beautiful,” explained Jaques, who also designed the upstairs Couture and Entertainment Suites.
The cocktail menu also forgoes the expected Times Square offerings with concoctions like the Crazy for Love (Tanteo Jalapeno Tequila, fresh lime juice and agave nectar) and the Disco Punch (Don Q Rum, Don Q Rum Cocoa, pineapple juice, orange juice and muddled raspberries and blackberries).
The bar’s entertainment director, Senem Sozen (as Jaques pointed out multiple times, just about everyone involved with Paramount Bar, from the General Manager to the engineer, is an attractive woman) oversees a rotating team of female DJs: as of now, Anna Cavazos plays a mix of disco, deep house and funk Wednesdays through Saturdays; Charlotte Balibar is on the decks Wednesdays and Thursdays with Euro & French pop, Brazilian and electro, and Nicole Leon takes over Fridays or Saturdays with pop, reggae and funk.
The one thing you won’t find at Paramount Bar? Flatscreens.
“When I walked in here it was all light, it had beige couches and it was a sports bar,” recalled Jaques, who declared “No TVs.” “The owner said, ‘What are you kidding? People like to come sit at the bar [and watch].’ And I said, ‘Not this one.’”
Photo: Michael Kleinberg Photography