Renaud Ceccotti-Ricci - 2012-09-22
Speakeasys, “vintage” cocktails and old-fashioned moustached barbers: it may well be 2012, but a nostalgic air is floating around New York that resembles something like a cross between the Prohibition and the 60s. Discover the Retro Manhattan of Don Draper and the “Mad Men.”
It’s not easy to find the entrance to Raines Law Room. From the outside it’s a building made of bricks like any other. There’s no sign, just a bell which only those who are in the know come to push. Raines Law Room is a speakeasy near Madison Square, one of the new hidden bars modelled on the clandestine bars that flourished during the Prohibition era.
Here you genuinely feel you’ve gone back to the 1920s via a time warp. At Death & Co, in the East Village, the atmosphere is cosy. The best place to sit is at the bar where you watch the "mixologists", as they call themselves, concoct a Manhattan for you. It’s a cocktail consisting of rye (U.S whiskey), vermouth and a glacé cherry and is incidentally also the favourite drink of Don Draper, hero of the Mad Men series. The mixologists wear braces and elegant three-piece suits and don’t hesitate in giving you their own recommendations to make a change from the habitual "Cosmo" or rum and Coke. “The current trend is for old-fashioned drinks. The ones that are making a comeback are drinks of yesteryear like gin, absinthe and brandy” explains Mark, a Mixologist with a carefully styled moustache.
So if you want that 60s look, you’ve no choice but to pay a visit to the hairdresser or the barber! For women it’s big hair and buns whilst for the men, slicked back hair and James Dean quiffs are the order of the day. “Customers are asking me for much more elaborate haircuts, there is an effort to have the vintage look of perfect partings and impeccably trimmed sideburns…” explains Matt, who manages the FSC Barbers in West Village. His salon resembles something straight out of a western movie. The barbers sport bowties and tattoos and customers wait lounging in old armchairs and enjoy the barber treatments of the olden days, such as the classic folding razor.
To complete the outfit, a visit to Paul Stuart on Madison Avenue (where the advertising agencies of the 50s and 60s used to be and which gave the name to the Mad Men series) is an absolute must. There you’ll find hats, suits and cufflinks... everything to dress the Don Draper and Roger Sterling generation. The spirit of the series is alive and kicking here.
Following that it will probably be time to pay a visit to PJ Clarke's on 3rd Avenue. This legendary bar and restaurant was, and still is, one of the favourite rendezvous of the Madison Avenue advertisers. The cocktails are famous, and after a few drinks, you might even think you’ve glimpsed Peggy Olson or Pete Campbell. Also don’t forget to try the bacon-cheeseburger, dubbed the "Cadillac Burger" by a certain Mr Nat King Cole many moons ago.
Finally, it won’t be difficult to find a refined New York hotel to finish off the Mad Men experience in style. The classy armchairs and grandiose décors of the Pierre, the Waldorf Astoria or the Roosevelt have been a great inspiration for the series’ artistic directors.
The Best Speakeasys
Raines Law Room – 48 West 17th Street, Flatiron District
Death & Co – 433 East 6th Street, East Village
Little Branch – 102 Norfolk Street, Lower East Side
PDT (Please Don’t Tell), hidden in a hot dog shop – 113 St Marks Place, East Village
Hairdressers & Barbers
F.S.C. Barber – 5 Horatio Street, West Village et 8 Rivington Street, Nolita
Neighborhood Cut and Shave – 37 Bedford Street, West Village
Blind Barber (which also has a bar!) – 339 East 10th Street, East Village
PJ Clarke’s – 915 3rd Avenue, on the corner of 55th Street
Paul Stuart – 10 East 45th Street, on the corner of Madison Avenue
The Pierre – 2 East 61st Street
Waldorf Astoria – 301 Park Avenue
Roosevelt – 45 East 45th Street