Underground Nightlife

December 27, 2016

Part of what makes living at the Atlas apartments near Bryant Park so exciting is that their Midtown neighborhood is frankly inexhaustible. It would take a lifetime to explore every up-and-coming restaurant, every historic nook in the New York Public Library, and every bar- and theater-lined street. The area comes alive after dark, though, with its collection of underground bars that are the hidden gems of Midtown nightlife. Here are three of our favorite downstairs bars in NoMad:


The Raines Law Room at The William | 24 East 39th Street    

Lauded by World’s Best Bars as one of the most romantic bars in New York City, the Raines Law Room at The William will envelop you in a classy, old-school speakeasy vibe. The sign that marks the entrance of the bar reads, “Enter through the Shakespeare,” and, though this is a simple logistical instruction on the face of it—the Shakespeare is an English-style pub upstairs—the poetry of it will not be lost on a visitor. The dimly lit space does indeed make you feel like you have stepped through a Shakespearian portal into a British- inflected atmosphere with a decidedly New York twist. Here, among the book- and bottle-lined walls, you can experiment with bar curator Meaghan Dorman’s make-your-own Old Fashioned menu. Pair your cocktail with a serving of Scotch eggs and sit back in your booth with its own curtain for the height of elegance and intimacy while out on the town.


The Bar Downstairs | 485 Fifth Avenue  

The Bar Downstairs is a Critics’ Pick at New York Magazine, where Helen Rosner writes about its “grilled skirt steak doused in chimichurri” being “so tender and flavorful that it almost outshines the cocktails. It’s the kind of dish that justifies popping in for a quick post-work cocktail and deciding, three or four Mexican Firing Squads later, that you never, ever want to leave.” The bar is an after-hours haven in the basement of the Andaz Hotel on 5th Avenue. It features communal wooden tables that complement the cavernous underground appeal and private seating where you order small plates, as well as cocktails that are as gourmet as the food, often made with the local ingredients from the kitchen.


Cellar Bar at the Bryant Park Hotel | 40 West 40th Street  

Another underground find tucked in the lower levels of a Midtown hotel, the Cellar Bar at the Bryant Park Hotel can be cozy or boisterous, depending on your mood—and where you sit. With distinctive arched ceilings bathed in blue and purple lights, and circular, flame-bearing chandeliers worthy of a Viking dinner party, there are plenty of nooks where you can escape with a friend and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Brut and watch the silhouettes of revelers go by, or perch yourself front and center at the bar and watch the bar’s master mixologists whip up a “Midtown Elyxir” made with Absolut Elyx vodka, Lillet Blanc, fresh cucumber, and pressed lime—the kind of drink that will elevate you out into the night in its namesake neighborhood, with the trees and the lights of Bryant Park there to welcome you back to landscaped elegance, stately architecture, and the luxurious warmth of the apartment waiting for you at the Atlas NoMad rentals.


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