JFK will soon be home to the only exclusive New York City speakeasy to begin serving cocktails starting at 10:30 in the morning.
But like any true clandestine watering hole, not everyone will have access. American Express is opening a 15,000-square-foot Centurion Lounge—the largest one in the world—at JFK’s Terminal 4 in the coming days with two notable names among New York’s best restaurants and bars: chef Iganacio Mattos (Estela, Café Altro Paradiso and Flora Bar) and bartender Jim Meehan (of PDT fame—you know, that tiny bar in the East Village you enter through a phone booth). Only Amex cardholders will have access.
The “1850” speakeasy, which is named after the year American Express launched and is located behind a copper-paneled wall for a Prohibition-like vibe, features a drinks menu where Meehan riffs on classics like the espresso martini and boulevardier. There are also cocktails that pay homage to some of New York’s most beloved bars, including the Cosmonot (a play on the Cosmo) from the late Sasha Petraske’s seminal Milk & Honey in the Lower East Side. A wine menu includes selections from local vineyards across the state, including the Finger Lakes.
As for the food, Mattos developed a menu for the speakeasy and lounge. The dishes here look more like what you’d find at the acclaimed chef’s trendy restaurants than the buffet-style setups common at most lounges. An egg sandwich is swaddled in Provolone cheese and tomato marmalade between brioche. Someone can also serve you a steak with romesco and taleggio sauce for dinner before that domestic flight.
Of course, the opening comes at a time when the entire travel industry faces uncertainty between an ongoing health crisis and various travel bans around the world. But New York has slowly crept back with indoor dining in the past week as it emerges from more than six months of regulations.
For those skittish about traveling at the moment, the lounge will also include an Equinox Body Lab, which was only available at the boutique gyms before. Here, guests can participate in self-guided meditation and stretching exercises—or you can just order a cocktail before noon.
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