Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Multitude of Drops 2: The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood

BOOK: The Handmaid's Tale
AUTHOR: Margaret Atwood
DATE: July 16, 2005

In the latest installment of Multitude of Drops, Libby and I read Margaret Atwood’s (review forthcoming) The Handmaid’s Tale, the future dystopia of a society in which woman are merely vessels used for procreation. To tie in with the book’s profuse thematic discussion of religion, I selected two bars, Temple Bar and Church Lounge, to play up to this thread. As we were headed to Babbo for dinner (review also coming later) and pasta and female oppression don’t really go hand in hand, the book club was for once, non-food related.

BAR: Temple Bar
LOCATION: 332 Lafayette St.
DRINK: Flower Martini (Premium Vodka, Chambord, and Elderflower); Proseco; Flirtini (Premium Vodka, Champagne, Cointreau, and Pineapple Juice) (Libby)
PRICE: $39.00

The Lafayette St. entrance to Temple Bar is deceptively unassuming. But upon opening the heavy metal door, Temple Bar reveals itself to be the opposite of ordinary. The L-shaped bar is composed of a beautiful dark wood, at once contemporarily classy and unpretentiously ornate. Scattered track lighting gives the lounge a stage quality, as it’s possible to move in and out of the dim glows like an actor performing. But while the lighting is Beckett, the vibe is Fitzgerald. Temple Bar has the feel of a 20s something speakeasy, but with the serenity of a bar no longer worried about the intrusions of prohibition authorities. For a romantic evening, I know of no better bar in the city.

The Flower Martini (yes, I admit to ordering it) was bold and delicious. Just as in the Danube cocktail (at David Bouley’s Danube), elderflower contributed an innovative sweetness to the clarity of the vodka. Followed with the bubbly and refreshing Proseco, the evening had begun perfectly. That bowls of popcorn (the favorite snack of Libby and myself) were Temple Bar’s version of bar snacks only furthered the utopian feel of a discussion centering on decidedly portentous and disconcerting literature. It might be blasphemous, but at Temple Bar, alcohol has once again become sacred.

BAR: Church Lounge
LOCATION: 2 Avenue of the Americas
DRINK: Martini with a twist of lemon; Tantric (Libby)
PRICE: $32.00

The scene is slick and trendy. As your eyes move across the seedily lit room, they search for the famous, the rumored celebrities who grace this Downtown haven. Most patrons go to Church Lounge not for the drinks, but for the climate – the see and be seen atmosphere of this bar located in the extravagant and lavish Tribeca Grand Hotel. But the lack of focus on the bar is a shame – the drinks are excellent, if overpriced. The Martini is straightforward but polished, just as a Martini should be. Libby’s “Tantric” was girly and soft, but not so sweet as to ruin the tastebuds for the evening. And the bar itself is a site to behold, the fluorescent back lit bottles promising refined intoxication.

The irony of Church Lounge is in its name, as the gaudiness of the hotel and lounge practically beg visitors to engage in some Las Vegas weekend-style forbidden act, some sin enacted in the room’s dark corners. The space itself is huge, but worth witnessing at least once. And while horror stories of Church Lounge’s confrontational service abound on the internet, during our visit, Libby and I experienced only gracious attentiveness. Though, after hearing one of the other customers exclaim, “I want everything taken care of. We have a lot more people coming, so this is my daddy’s credit card to cover everything,” as she handed her waitress the plastic, the rumored surliness of the staff might be an understandable byproduct of having to contend with a crowd who no longer realizes its not “in”.

No comments: