Screw the recession at this spendy saloon.
Mon Nov 2 2009
The Steve Collins; Photographs: Lizz Huehl
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
From the folks who brought us the Stone Rose Lounge comes another ritzy after-work bar. Housed in the McGraw Hill building, the cocktails at this extravagent spot top out at an astounding $17, and the boom-times space is 1960s swank, with low-slung couches, glowing blue ceilings and more candles than St. Peter's Basilica. Despite the lavish setting, Forty Eight is so surprisingly welcoming, it's easy to forget you can't afford it. Though cocktails are divided among cringe-inducing categories like "Elegance," "Wanderlust," "Romance" and "Wellness," they deliver. The last group offers two sugarfree drinks seemingly aimed at the gym-going crowd. The Steve Collins is pleasantly bitter (despite being Stevia-sweetened), combining Bombay Sapphire, citrus juices and a hint of ginger over crushed ice. Under the "Elegance" header is another hit: the French Forty Eight. Its froufrou fixings (Hendrick's gin, ginger liqueur, Roederer champagne and strawberries) add up to a balanced treat. There are also the well-curated by-the-glass wines to choose from: Among them is a full, fragrant 2006 Moffet Cabernet that's heady enough to match the lush environs. The snacky food may not appeal to the "Wellness" set, but it seemed to do the trick for everyone else—we liked the crispy, gooey Cuban sandwich. While there's plenty at Forty Eight to make us skeptical—the prices, the buttoned-up crowd—the place turns out to be a New York paradox: a destination cocktail lounge in midtown.—TONY