The Bars at Neiman Marcus in Hudson Yards
20 Hudson Yards, Levels 6 (Bar Stanley) and 7 (The Zodiac Room)
The Place: The two bars in the shiny new Neiman Marcus in the shiny new Hudson Yards.
The Time: Thursday June 13, 5:15pm. After my wild ride at L’Avenue in Saks, I’ve decided to drink alone at bars in other department stores across the city. I’m seeing a play later and figured this was a perfect time to review a second spot in what I’m now calling The Department Store Bar Series. Hudson Yards is spitting distance from the theater district and I assumed there was a department store in there somewhere. When the Google Machine tells me it’s a Neiman Marcus, for a split second I’m afraid Hudson Yards is actually in New Jersey.
The Vibe: This is my first time to Hudson Yards, if you can’t tell already. Since its opening in March, I channeled Carrie Bradshaw and “couldn’t help but wonder” why the fuck New York spent a fortune on this high-rise/shopping complex and not, say, the dilapidated subway system. After parting a sea of tourists taking photos in front of The Vessel, aka the stairways to nowhere, I manage to find The Shops. This seven story building is LITERALLY ONE MILLION SQUARE FEET so I vastly underestimated the amount of time it would take me to navigate this glittering, headache-inducing suburban mall (are we sure this isn’t New Jersey?). Once I find Neiman Marcus, it takes me another 10 minutes to find my first stop, Bar Stanley, and I am grateful to see alcohol. The bar is visible through an iron gate of sorts, which does a terrible job of demarcating it from the store, but maybe that’s not the point. I grab a seat at the empty bar and have a great view into the Shawarma Sculpture. This spot is small, with a few tables, gray walls, two nooks on either side with black leather couches and black and white photos of Stanley Marcus himself, presumably. It feels specifically designed for shoppers who simply can’t go on without some liquid fuel, or for post-work drinks, but who’s coming here post-work, I’m not sure. It’s relatively quiet; there’s a group of ladies in one of the nooks with shopping bags at their feet, a guy in a gray hoodie drinking a rosé and talking on the phone via airpods, a woman who swears to the server that she’s meeting a friend here, and when she realizes that she’s the first to arrive, looks absolutely panicked that she has to be alone for 3 minutes.
The Bartender: A very friendly man wearing a brown leather apron and a name tag that says Asa, so I suppose that’s his name. He lets me try a liquor featured in one of their speciality cocktails, because I’m the person who asks things like: “Michter’s makes a sour mash?!” There’s another bartender too, Alfonso, and so many other people who also work here. I feel a little crazy for working my Brooklyn bar with only one other person on most nights.
The Drank: Happy hour cocktail prices are slashed from $19 to $12, which is an excellent deal, hence why I ask about the Michter’s. But since my night is just getting started, I go with a glass of Brut for $10. It’s served in maybe the biggest champagne flute I’ve ever seen. There is a small selection of bar snacks, as well as pub-y things like burgers, but Asa puts a little tray down in front of me filled with complimentary nuts, olives and chips, without me having to ask. A+ service, Asa.
Was I Hit On? No but two men in suits sit down kind of near me when I’m almost done with my drink. They keep looking over at me, but then they ask Asa for their own little tray of snacks, so I am not the snack they want this evening, thank god.
And now that I’m a bit tipsy, I wander my way back through the store in search of The Zodiac Room.
The Vibe: I have to wade through another floor full of bored-looking mannequins until I see it. The Zodiac Room is apparently the staple restaurant of Neiman Marcuses around the country. This one is a bit more removed from the store than Bar Stanley is - it’s got a glass wall with curtains to sequester it off, instead of a geometric fence. It’s even emptier than Bar Stanley however, with only a small group of coworkers in the front, another woman flying solo at the bar, and zero people in the restaurant area. But unlike Bar Stanley, it is BIG so it’s even weirder that it’s desolate. I feel like I’m in a mod mermaid lounge and that’s honestly the only way I can describe it.
The Bartender: A lovely woman named Alexandra who doesn’t have much to do. There are also two women at the host stand to greet the non-existent guests.
The Drank: The Early Bloom, a cocktail of lavender and blossom infused eau de vie, honey and Brut, because I like consistency. It’s gorgeous, but a little too sweet, even though I’m down with the floral notes. And this is maybe the biggest coupe glass I’ve ever seen, so clearly Neiman Marcus also likes consistency. However, it is $19 which I do not feel good about at all.
Was I Hit On? There is no one here to hit on me. Alexandra gives me a complimentary popover with strawberry butter, as well as a sample of their smoked hummus, but this is obviously something she’s been told to do and isn’t a come on.
Should You Drink Here Alone? Oof, uh. There’s not really a reason why you should, at the Zodiac Room or Bar Stanley. The bartenders are great and the drinks are good, so if you happen to be shopping at Neiman Marcus in Hudson Yards, sure, go for it. Otherwise, hit up a place where you don’t have to traverse a corn maze of expensive designer clothes to get there.