becoming a hotspot doesn't happen overnight, especially not in a place as notoriously discerning as manhattan. it takes owners with an excellent rep of some sort, meticulous planning, and last but not least, a network of a-listers that'll happily spread the word for you. well, that's a triple check for backbar, a new bar + lounge in chelsea and the latest addition to what has become a happening cluster of hospitality venues by entrepreneurs will malnati and doug jacob. the talented duo have previously set up toro and willow road, two restaurants serving spanish cuisine and classic american dishes respectively, all at the very same spot [a former biscuit factory where the first oreo cookie was produced]. the buzz that was already there has peaked to new heights with the addition of the swanky backbar. in true speakeasy tradition it's very much a hidden place inside the industrial building, and which can be reached after passing many doors and one very selective door b...er...shall we say: door man?
but when you've taken all the hurdles, the reward is a blissful one. backbar's setting is best described as a quirky blend of the old and the new in an understated, chic way. props are well-picked and highly decorative, and the whole scenery grows on you faster than you can blink with your eyes. an expansive concrete wall with a bull's head and a myriad of candles embedded in it is the first decoration statement you'll come across. right opposite, an industrial marble-clad bar is situated next to the dj booth. but backbar's true eye-catcher is the cozy seating area at the far end, set below the luscious canopy of a blooming tree. so, dress to impress - as in understated and cool - and you'll be sipping killer cocktails all night long with manhattan's picky party crowd. location: 85 tenth avenue, entrance is behind two massive steel doors on 16th street [chelsea].