Within the posh Hotel Sofitel, the former Stone Rose Lounge has been upgraded to an upscale cocktail and DJ lounge dubbed, Riviera 31. Inspired by photographs from the late Edward Quinn, the photographer’s prints adorn the walls and ceiling with beach scenes from the French Riviera and iconic celebrities such as Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Grace, who embody the Golden Days of yesteryear. The redesign, meant to evoke the sense of partying like the rich and famous in the south of France, is a more hyped-up Beverly Hills version. There are plenty of nooks with comfy, luxe seating—leather chaises lounges, long velvet couches, outdoor patio and cabana seating—amid an elegant central U-shaped bar. Drinks boast fresh seasonal ingredients and owes its reincarnated selection to Matthew Biancaniello (formerly of Library Bar), while bar bites feature dishes such as a charcuterie assortment ($16), short rib sliders ($12), escargot ($16), tuna cones ($12) and larger Mediterranean plates for dinner.
Good for: Dressing up and dancing the night away. Plenty of private and open space is perfect for groups celebrating birthday parties, engagements, or just looking to party it up reserve private areas or cabanas and indulge themselves with bottle-service (though not necessary to make a reservation) and rounds of cocktails.
The scene: DJs take the floor around 9pm, and by 10:30pm crowds fresh from the salon, showing off tight glittery dresses and mile-high pumps and chic apparel amp up the party as a serious dance scene gives way to an array of entertainment from racy burlesque dancing to singers, often perched upon the bar as their stage. This isn’t the place to get your cocktail geek out, as bartenders don’t all posses the same level of craft-cocktail expertise. But when your only concern is grinding with a new best friend, who cares about the balance of your drink.
The playlist: DJs that hold court over varying styles are: Wednesdays (Sean Patrick), Fridays (Gabriel Diggs—who was spinning the night we were there and is featured on the cover of the PlayStation2 game “Beatmania” and Saturdays (Matthew Frauman & Dave Hernandez).
The bartender says: At the end of the night, while you wait for valet to fetch your car, check out the photos by Frank Worth in the lobby gallery—amazing portraits of Sammy Davis Jr., Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe are worth gawking at.
Drink this: Biancaniello's concoctions all take their names from hotels along the Riviera, like the Byblos ($15), served in a rocks glass with choice of Ketel One or Hendrick’s Gin, lime juice, agave and muddled arugula. The Thirty-One ($16), ablend of Bulliet Rye, Punt e Mes vermouth, orange, Cointreau, maraschino and sea salt, is a favorite of bourbon drinkers. Wines by the glass average around $12, and a modest group of imported (Amstel, Heineken, Stella) and domestic (Bud, Blue Moon) beers are available by the bottle.