Food

Can a ‘New’ Old Bar Rescue the Meatpacking District?

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It’s always a little suspect when bars—with the same owners and same
venue—relaunch under a different name. What went wrong the first time,
you wonder, that necessitated an interior-decorating overhaul?

R&R’s former incarnation, Rare, was indeed just that: rare. Even though the
Meatpacking District has devolved into B&T club void, the unassuming
performance space hadn’t seemed to take much notice, drawing in a mostly
subdued crowd just there to see the night’s featured DJ. Nothing was
particularly exceptional about Rare, as we recall, but nothing was hideously
egregious either. (We’d argue that this onetime meat locker’s finest
occupant was the now long-gone Cooler.)

Perhaps in an effort to fit in with the rest of the new upscale Meatpacking
District, the owners chose to remodel Rare. Brown crocodile lines the bar
lounge area, and black and white patent leather seating dots the main room,
matching the newly painted polka-dotted walls. The drink menu, still in the
works when we visited, boasts a number of themed cocktails to suit all
types. Choose from an array of $10 specialty concoctions like the girly
Misty Mountain (Malibu coconut rum and pineapple juice) and Backstage Pass
(Stoli vanil, 7-Up, and orange juice); the citrusy La Bamba (Patrón tequila,
Cointreau, pineapple juice, and orange juice); and the barfy yet effective
High Voltage (Jagermeister and Red Bull).

The space is attractive, the cocktails are potent albeit pricey ($8 for well
drinks) and the open-door policy is a wise choice. To really draw in the
crowd, however, requires more than just bringing in consultants for a
facelift. When we asked a bartender the reason for the revamp, she simply
replied, “Beats the hell out of me, I still call it Rare.” Actually, the
space is now more suited for a dance club than performance venue, but that
would entail scoring the holy nightlife grail, oh precious cabaret license.

Sigh. We’re always on the lookout for something to take down Lotus.

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