By Terry Trucco
Once again New York Fashion Week breezes in, and suddenly Manhattan’s Upper West Side is uncharacteristically chic – at least until September 13.
The temporary white Mercedes Benz cube in Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park is the epicenter. More than 70 designers will show including Michael Kors, Nanette Lepore, Charlotte Ronson, J Mendel — and Tracy Reese, who designed the sleeveless rose brocade dress worn by Michele Obama for her speech at the Democratic National Convention.
Anyone who takes all that in deserves a drink — or lunch — a short walk from the cube. A sampling of nearby hotels stand at the ready.
We love specialty cocktails, or at least the idea of them. The Mandarin Oriental serves up three, dubbed Fall into Fashion and available through the 13th. We opted for After Hours, a 2012 riff on a Cosmo – Grey Goose vodka, blueberry juice, Crème Yvette violet liquer and Xocolati Mole bitters with a sugared rim. It’s gorgeous, not too sweet and looks picture-perfect perched on a cocktail table by the window (the views from the 35th floor lounge and MObar are heart-thumping). The $19 cocktails come with a tray of chips, almonds and green olives.
Mandarin Oriental, 80 Columbus Circle at 60th Street; 212 805-8800.
When the weather cooperates, the Hudson hotel’s lush open-air Sky Terrace on the 15h floor is sweet. This narrow, old-style wrap-around space feels like a set for a 1940s movie (you’re staring at the Hudson but also at vintage brick buildings if you overlook Hearst Tower). Seating options range from artfully mismatched tables and chairs to a hammock. The cocktail menu is limited but stylish (a Lillet rose and whiskey concoction caught our eye), $16. If it’s raining, the Library bar offers drinks like the Rare Fashioned, a riff on an Old-Fashioned with agave nectar, blackberries, bitters and bourbon – and a big sofa in front of a fireplace.
Hudson, 356 West 58th Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues; 212 554-6000.
The wood-lined, Japanese-inflected Blue Ribbon Bar at 6 Columbus is minimal and chic, a congenial backdrop for flaunting a pair of Rag and Bone jeans or a colorful Marc Jacobs bag. Though no specialty cocktails are offered for Fashion Week, the bartender suggested Oh Rosie when we asked for something stylish and fun. (Bombay Saphire Gin, citrus cordial, rosemary simple syrup, lemon juice, on the rocks — $13).
6 Columbus, 6 Columbus Circle between eighth and ninth avenues; 212 204-3000.
The Empire Hotel was the big winner – and the Bryant Park Hotel the big loser – when Fashion Week moved to Lincoln Center from Bryant Park several seasons back. The hotel stands directly across the street from Lincoln Center – something its builders in 1915 never foresaw. In seasons past the Empire went all out for Fashion Week with themed drinks and festivities, like artists drawing portraits of guests. This year? Nada, unless you count a slew of private parties. Hmmm. But the lobby bar is still a great place to relax with a drink après the shows. And XOXO, concocted from Little Black Dress Vodka (and White Godiva and Crème de Cocoa), $16, flirts with fashion.
Empire Hotel, 44 West 63rd Street; 212 265-7400.
Prefer to indulge in something more substantial than a drink? Nougatine, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s low-key American bistro adjoining the high-powered Jean-Georges at Trump International New York, salutes Fashion Week with a three-course prix fixe lunch ($32, Monday to Sunday) and dinner ($38, Sunday to Friday). Meals unfurl in the restaurant’s sleekly renovated dining room, courtesy architect Thomas Juul-Hansen (new floor plan, furnishings and colors). Choices change daily, but look for appetizers like tuna tartare or watermelon and goat cheese salad, entrees like a cheeseburger with crispy onions or roasted flounder with sweet onion vinaigrette, market beans and pistachios, and warm chocolate cake or blueberry pound cake with sweet corn ice cream and roasted peaches for dessert.
Nougatine at Trump International New York Hotel & Tower, 1 Central Park West; 212 299-3900