Three of the four walls of the room are windows, and the view is unobscured by the messy midtown skyline; Bar SixtyFive at the Rainbow Room ascends as a literal offering to the skies.
The Rainbow Room was named such in 1934, when several Rockefeller’s agreed that the name Stratosphere had fallen short on several fronts–one, that it held the air of just another nightclub. And this was not just another nightclub. The Rainbow Room was, and eighty years later still is, the highest drink in New York City.
They said that if you had the opportunity to perform there, you would accept any salary that they gave you, because this performance assured that you would become a star. This space was extraordinary, chandelier lit, and for the good kind of company.
Thinking about this, I feel honored to be in the very room. We entered the sun-filled loft with authority and a dash of disbelief. Round, standing tables with leather bound menus filled most of the main area.
I knew what I wanted.
My Manhattan was well-balanced, traditional, made with Wild Turkey 101 Rye. The bartender wore hair product, a clean shaven face, and a black vest. He twirled bitters around the edge, mixed the drink with two types of Italian Vermouth and dropped a Maraschino. Me and the girls looked each other in the eyes, saluted, sipped, and I looked down at the drink. As smooth as your first tie.
The view hits you before the drink, the entire skyline from about 42nd st.
Urbanites, whatever you call them, rich old people sit lofty at tables and watch the sunset over New Jersey. A smile is exchanged on our way past.
The far side hosts a backdrop of Central Park and Upper Manhattan.
New York is a perpetual battle of limited space. Packed in the subway, coffee shops, running lanes in Central Park are New Yorkers. And sure there is this physical limitation, but there is also a mental one. Everyday I am confronted by the reality that the space I limit myself to, is self-created. I heard once, from a younger me, that I don’t belong here, that I’m not comfortable in the very space I occupy. Being in bars like this used to bother me, but now I don’t think of it negatively–I see it as a blessing.
It’s much more than just a cocktail, you’re drinking in the sky.
The view is about as spectacular as you’ll get–and while the drink is pricey, at 21 USD, it is almost an out-of-body experience when the sun tucks itself in to sleep and the lights come out.
Each light is organized in its modicum of space. Only the light flooding from the horizon washes colors together in a radiant spectrum.
The space. The lights. The view. The drink. It always comes together for the ideal drink.
They used to call this bar a star cradle. And let me tell you, the sentiment is very much alive.
Bar65 at The Rainbow Room
International Council-Shopping Center, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112