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The New Downtown Bar Laissez Faire Celebrates “The Future of Old New York”

The green velvet that envelops the tufted chairs and drapes the walls, as well as the pink banquettes and wood paneling, reference the Stork Club, the uptown hotspot that epitomized cafe society in the first half of the 20th century. The exposed brick and open plenums, meanwhile, tempered with the decadence of disco balls and metallic flourishes, evoke the irreverence of West Side warehouses, most notably Tunnel. (The Chelsea discotheque—which Rudy Guliani successfully shuttered in 2001 during the mayor’s so-called “quality of life” crusade—reigned as the favorite of drag queens and hip hop kings throughout the 1980s and 1990s.) Along with these evocations of New York nightlife of decades past, Laissez Faire also features plenty of unmistakably contemporary details, including the futuristic lighting that covers the ceiling and the sculptural speakers.

Photo: Jared Reiff

“Building a club is not unlike making a movie,” Houston says. “Except your clientele are both the audience, and the stars.”

Like the most riveting movies, Laissez Faire offers a variety of scenes with a diverse cast of characters. Starting at 6 p.m., the bar will serve caviar, oysters, and heartier fare from Tom Colicchio, the telegenic chef and restaurateur. The martini is, of course, the primary focus: The founders tapped the renowned Alex Smith to design a drinks program around Manhattan’s favorite libation. Sure, the Beekman’s proximity to Wall Street will undoubtedly turn the lounge into a favorite for wolves, but the sexy corners and white glove service render it an ideal spot for dates, especially given enclaves can be siphoned off into private rooms. On Wednesdays, live musicians will take the stage. Finally, late into the night, world-class DJs will make use of the state-of-the-art 4-point Danley Sound Labs system, one of the most advanced in the city. At its essence, Laissez Faire enables New Yorkers to revel in a dose of glamorous nostalgia—all while living the bright, electric present.



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