Toast of the town

Savouring a mix of hip design and old-fashioned cocktails at a glamorous New York hotel
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Indy Lifestyle Online

New York is a city in a hurry. Despite the fact that computers communicate in nanoseconds and picoseconds, the smallest interval of time known to man is that which occurs in Manhattan between the traffic signal turning green and the taxi driver behind your car blowing his horn. New York is a city that needs to be forced to slow down and take time out. Which is why it needs cocktails. And a glamorous place like Hudson to drink them.

New York is a city in a hurry. Despite the fact that computers communicate in nanoseconds and picoseconds, the smallest interval of time known to man is that which occurs in Manhattan between the traffic signal turning green and the taxi driver behind your car blowing his horn. New York is a city that needs to be forced to slow down and take time out. Which is why it needs cocktails. And a glamorous place like Hudson to drink them.

Hudson is Ian Schrager's first New York hotel in more than a decade. It's so new that the carpets still bobble. And you get a shock in the elevator. The design is by Philippe Starck, and the prints are by Jean-Baptiste Mondino - the place defines glamorous. Unfortunately, I don't. "You're wearing brown," a friend said when we met in the Hudson Bar. "In New York we wear black. And that's only until something darker comes along."

This is the city where they walk imaginary pets. So expect the unexpected. Bar design is no exception. The furniture ranges from Louis XV to 2001: A Space Odyssey - a mix of Plexiglass and gold leaf. "Eclectic" would be the polite word. I preferred the Library Bar at the back of the hotel. Even if the barmaids are the only ones tall enough to reach the books. The centrepiece is a magnificent purple-baize pool table. NB: it isn't "winner stays on". I pulled up a stool and asked the barman to explain exactly why New York has more indigenous cocktails than any other city on earth. Sure, there is a Chicago, a Curaçaoed version of the French 75, but no one's ever ordered it. And there is a Los Angeles - lemon, whiskey, sweet vermouth, sugar and an egg - but it's not big, and it's certainly not clever. It is New York that has given us the most ingenious ways to wake up with a headache.

There's the Fifth Avenue, the Park Avenue and the New Yorker. That's one and a half shots of rye or bourbon, the juice of one lime and a dash of grenadine. You already know the Manhattan. And the Brooklyn. But the nicest surprise in the New York cocktail canon is the Bronx. It was invented at the Waldorf-Astoria at the turn of the century. It swept the city but wore out its welcome and died from overuse in the Thirties. Let's bring it back, wear something black, and spread a little glamour as we go.

Hudson, 356 West 58th Street, New York (001 212 554 6000).

Bronx recipe

2oz gin, 1/2oz orange juice, 1/2oz dry vermouth, 1/2oz sweet vermouth. Shake all the ingredients in a shaker with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

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