Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Luscious Cocktails for the Well-Heeled

My very good friend James recently brought me to Olives, the ground-floor bar at the W Hotel near Union Square. Ws are hot stuff--chi-chi boutique hotels that have been springing up all over the world (23 at last count). They refer to themselves as a “global lifestyle brand.” At $500 a night for a double room, this certainly isn’t my lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean I can’t stop in for a drink!
The slender cocktail menu has pages of delicious choices. I opt for the exotic Lychee Martini: Skyy Vodka, lychee nectar, and Domaine Chandon Etoile Brut Rosé. The drink is white and cloudy. Its flavor is rich; its texture pulpy. It’s like a pina colada that went to finishing school.
James has wisely chosen a Pomegranate Sour: Skyy Vodka, pomegranate molasses (!), and sour mix. I enjoy my drink, but after one sip of his tangy and sweet elixir I’m jealous.
The place is a scene. It’s barely 6 p.m on a Friday and already every chocolate leather banquet and pouf is taken. My mission is finding us seats—his is getting the drinks. After we both accomplish our goals, we are happily seated back-to-back with other imbibers on the stretch of banquet that runs the length of the floor to ceiling windows. We watch amused as the pedestrians tug on their umbrellas and get splashed by oncoming traffic. It’s good to be inside on this miserable night, drinking expensive cocktails.
We are sitting opposite two women who could be twins. Each one has perfectly highlighted blonde hair, black pants and sweaters, and—this is the kicker—identical square cut diamond rings that appear to be at least three carats each.
Women dripping logos like Chanel and Prada, men in beautifully cut suits, young business people checking their Ipones, it’s a well-off after work crowd mixed with hotel guests, all enjoying their drinks and the beautiful bar.
As I drain my drink, a lovely surprise: a glossy white lychee had been lying at the bottom of my glass. I pluck it out and bite into its succulent flesh. For a moment, I am transported back to the rainforest of Australia, where I ate a lychee straight from the tree.
Then I shake off the revelry and grab my coat. At $14 a pop, one round is all we will have tonight at Olives.

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