A few weeks ago, a subterranean lounge named Mailroom began luring downtown types to the financial district with the siren call of free drinks, food from Momofuku and D.J.s including James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, Mark Ronson and Clara 3000.
But there’s a twist: Mailroom is wedged beneath a Wall Street high-rise that includes WeWork, which offers shared office spaces, and WeLive, which rents dorm-style residences. Though open to the public, Mailroom is essentially a membership perk.
“I didn’t know what to think about it,” said Jayma Cardoso, an owner of the Surf Lodge in Montauk, N.Y., who was recruited by WeWork to handle Mailroom’s programming. “I don’t love Wall Street and it’s in a basement.”
Then she learned that an outpost of Mailroom will be installed in every WeLive location. “This isn’t just doing one bar,” she said. “It’s about being part of an incredible project that can be in all 21 cities in America and potentially all over the world.” Ms. Cardoso signed on.
This fall, Mailroom is in good company: Many of New York’s latest night life offerings are components of more goliath endeavors. Ian Schrager’s Public hotel on the Lower East Side includes a roof deck lounge, a basement club and a hot-list restaurant. The Magic Hour Rooftop Lounge is atop the Moxy hotel in Times Square. The 1 Hotel in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn has a rooftop bar. And a Playboy Club, which is being resurrected in New York after three decades, will burrow below the Cachet hotel in Midtown West.
In Manhattan, real estate prices and competition from Brooklyn have led clubland operators to exchange autonomy for the streams of built-in patrons, scalability and financial safety provided by larger hospitality companies.
“When I first started, night life was a very raw, spontaneous, young business,” said Mr. Schrager, who was a founder of Studio 54 and the Palladium, before becoming a hotelier. “You didn’t have to have a lot of capital. Everything culminated in owning your own nightclub. Now it’s dominated by people who go around doing their thing at other people’s facilities.”
Having a corporate overlord does not, of course, translate into being cool or exclusive. At the Moxy, a Marriott spinoff geared toward millennials, the target demographic is not a Hydra-bronzed, Vetements-clad jet-setter, but a budget traveler who Instagrams the rooftop’s topiaries of fornicating animals. “This is not a bottle service kind of place,” said Noah Tepperberg of the Tao Group, which will oversee the bars and restaurants at the Moxy. “It’s fairly relaxed.”
When things come together, it doesn’t matter who pulls the strings. Last month, the indie-folk band Grizzly Bear was performing at Public Arts, a club under the Public hotel guarded by velvet ropes and formidable bouncers. Under diffused blue lighting, bartenders in short-sleeve lumberjack shirts sloshed drinks and the crowd cawed for an encore.
“It feels intimate and exclusive,” said Steph Bayan, a guest who lives in Los Angeles. “I would never know about this unless I was invited.”
Here are some of the notable bar and club openings in New York this fall.
The financial district is tough turf for night life, but Mailroom has a home-field advantage: The bar and lounge are in the basement of a building that includes WeWork, WeLive and its creative clientele. Introduced last month with weekly parties that drew a cool-kid cohort, Mailroom reveals un-edgy intentions with midcentury-inspired furniture, Warhol prints and a bocce court. “It’s just a bar that has really fun and nice programming,” Ms. Cardoso said. “It’s built for anyone who wants to have a drink.”
110 Wall Street (between Front and South Streets), mailroomnyc.com
Since opening in June, this 367-room Lower East Side leviathan by Mr. Schrager has hosted a stream of parties, corporate events, screenings and live shows (Patti Smith, Grizzly Bear). On the roof, there’s an enormous terrace and an icy discothèque with lighting that conjures a scene from the movie “Belly.” Public Arts is in the basement in a large performance space with a separate entrance. At the helm are Carlos Quirarte and Matt Kliegman, the partners behind the Smile cafes and the club Westway. “We can adjust the vibe,” Mr. Kliegman said, praising the basement’s versatility. “A D.J. goes on and all of a sudden, there’s a party.”
215 Chrystie Street (between Houston and Stanton Streets), publichotels.com
What started as an impromptu party in the Broadway dressing room of Alan Cumming is going brick and mortar with the opening of Club Cumming. The East Village storefront, previously home to the popular gay haunt Eastern Bloc, is being transformed into a Weimar-inspired cabaret bar (Eastern Bloc’s owners are still involved). The modest space will have illustrated murals of New York night life personalities including Joey Arias, mismatched chandeliers and a small curtained stage with a piano.
Beyond debauchery, events will include book releases, “stitch and bitch” knitting classes and tantric sex workshops. “To have a local bar that is home for artists and those who love them, that’s important to me,” Mr. Cumming said. “I’ve always wanted to make people talk to each other instead of looking at their phones.” Opens this month.
505 East Sixth Street (between Avenues A and B), clubcummingnyc.com
Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge
The rooftop lounge of the Moxy NYC Times Square, a new brand by the Marriott marketed to millennials, will be booby-trapped with social media bait: adult-themed mini-golf, topiaries of amorous critters and unobstructed views of the Empire State Building. “You can expect this to blow up Instagram feeds,” Mr. Tepperberg said. A handful of $99 hotel rooms are available only on the Magic Hour menu. Other highlights include a second-floor bar with a pool table, a subway-tiled seafood brasserie and an egg-centric sandwich shop for those seeking other selfie backdrops. Opens this month.
485 Seventh Avenue (at West 36th Street), moxytimessquare.com
The Irish owners of Lillie’s Victorian Establishment, a pair of Manhattan bars devoted to the actress Lillie Langtry, have opened a cheerfully opulent bar honoring her friend Oscar Wilde. The cozy space, which could be mistaken for an antiques shop, has a curvaceous 118-foot bar, walls teeming with literary paraphernalia, chandeliers with peacock feathers and wainscoting said to be from Hope Castle in Castleblayney, Ireland, the hometown of Frank McCole, one of the owners.
“My father acquired some of the stuff, but I never asked him why and how,” he said. “Some things you don’t need to know.” The bar’s 26 clocks are set to 1:50, said to be the moment of Mr. Wilde’s death, and an appropriate last call for the 2 a.m. closing time.
45 West 27th Street (between Avenue of the Americas and Broadway), oscarwildenyc.com
The disappearance of Williamsburg’s indie music hub prompted hand-wringing about North Brooklyn’s cultural soul, but alternatives are sprouting up deeper down the L line. The owners of Glasslands, a Kent Avenue sweatbox that closed in 2014, will make an encore with Elsewhere, a 24,000-square-foot performance space in Bushwick. The industrial compound includes a concert hall of torched wood and stainless steel, a more intimate club with a D.J. booth, a second-floor coffee shop, and an art gallery nested in an elevated walkway.
“It’s not a huge box,” said Jake Rosenthal, an owner. “There’s nooks and crannies. We wanted the physical space to be explored.” Acts including No Age and Parquet Courts are booked for Elsewhere’s opening in November.
599 Johnson Avenue, (between Gardner and Scott Avenues), Brooklyn, elsewherebrooklyn.com
Playboy Club NYC
After taking over the space occupied by the L.G.B.T.-friendly Out Hotel, the Cachet Boutique hotel is converting the cavernous ground-floor lounge into a paean to heterosexuality. The Playboy Club, which last operated in New York some 30 years ago, returns with a muscular brass-and-wood bar, a “spirit library” and, of course, waitresses with rabbit ears and poofy tails. The proprietors insist the focus is more about showmanship than sex. “Not saying it’s ‘Sleep No More,’ but there really is an element of performance,” said Nicole Levinson of the Cachet Hospitality Group. “It’s like walking into a moment.” Opens in late November.
508 West 42nd Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues), cachetboutiquenyc.com