Henry at Life Hotel
Henry at Life Hotel, 19 W 31st St btw 5th Ave and Broadway, Midtown West
(but Google Maps says Koreatown, but the Henry website says NoMad, but like it’s right near Herald Square and Penn Station so these are all options I don’t know what to tell you)
The Place: The revamped bar and restaurant inside the Life Hotel on an otherwise nondescript side street in Midtown, with a cocktail program by the legendary mixologist goddess Pam Wiznitzer.
The Time: Monday October 29, 7:30pm. My friend suggested getting a drink at Henry because she’s friends with Pam and wanted to connect us, to which my answer was YES PLEASE. But I wanted to get there a little early to scope it out for myself, so you know I am an unbiased reviewer!
The Vibe: So if I wasn’t aware that there was a cool bar inside this weirdly named hotel with old-school signage, I would have no idea. But maybe that’s the fun of it? Because I open the doors and Chic, Sophistication and Fun all hit me right in the face. The bar is off to the left, and tables for the restaurant are off to the right. I take a seat at the corner of the bar so I can “survey the scene.” There are leather bar stools (with backs!), a marble bar top, wood paneled walls, low ceilings. There’s a large table with big leather chairs around it and it totally looks like it belongs in a conference room. (I’ve been watching a lot of The Office lately.) Everyone in here is very pretty, relatively young and definitely trendy. And all of these pretty people are shrouded in a sexy neon pink light, making everyone look even better! There are a lot of women in leather jackets drinking prosecco. I don’t identify any tourists, which is super weird but I’m pleased with it. I overhear one of the bartenders telling a duo that the downstairs is open. There’s a downstairs?! What’s downstairs!? I love a good mystery.
The Bartender: So Pam is not behind the bar tonight, but several other bartenders are, and they are all attentive, efficient and very nice. There’s a manager hanging around, common for a restaurant that recently opened (and actually common for a lot of good places because that’s their job, to manage). He helps a server find a bottle of Syrah. Then a different server comes asking for a different wine, and says to the bartender about her table, “don’t be extra for a $40 bottle of rose.” I think we can all glean something from these words of wisdom.
The Drank: Alright, storytime. I first learned of Pam Wiznitzer when I lived at my mom’s right after I graduated from college. I was a big frequenter of the cocktail bar a few blocks away called Seamstress (RIP). Pam ran the cocktail program there, and I fell in love with a drink called Mortimer & Mauve. And because I loved this drink so much, I’ve been kind of following her success ever since. Needless to say I am DELIGHTED to see this drink on the menu at Henry. Buuut, I think here I should try something new, so I get the South by Eastside. Served in a highball, made of tequila, green tea shochu, cucumber, shiso, lime, honey. It’s delish; tart and sweet at the same time, super refreshing, and very dangerous because I could drink a bunch of these.
Was I Hit On? No, I get to read my sad, not-fitting-for-a-fun-bar novel in peace until my friend arrives. Who knows if this would be the case on a weekend night, because this place is pretty sultry, but right now, I’m not bothered at all.
Should You Drink Here Alone? Yeah girl. For however much I make fun of it, Midtown Manhattan needs a spot like Henry. Great drinks, cool vibes, stellar service, TWO bars to choose from*. And it’s open all day, so you can pop in anytime you find yourself in this area. Because Henry is new and on the upswing, you might wanna stick to weekdays to get your alone time. When you go, you just may see me on a nearby bar stool, reunited with my darling, Mortimer & Mauve.
*Downstairs is a speakeasy called Gibson & Luce. Completely different menu, more sexy neon lights and a very large picture of Bowie with a dog. What’s not to like?
*UPDATE* Henry at Life Hotel is now closed.