20˚ of Separation: Bikini Bars


After this many days of 20-degree weather, it’s time to escape to a climate where the temperature’s warm and the drinks are plentiful. As a quick getaway to Jamaica is out of the question, how about that trip to Gotham’s finer bikini bars? (We counted two.)

The Hawaiian Tropic Zone (729 Seventh Avenue) opened a few months back with a few golden plugs: Nicole Miller bikinis and sarongs on the girls, and pupu platters by David Burke. A photo of the jovial Burke happily nestled between two busty bikini girls, a/k/a Girls of the Zone, even appears on the joint’s homepage, accompanied by the phrase “the hottest place on earth.” (Could it be? Burke does look … quite warm.) There is also a well-promoted catwalk that stretches across the length of the restaurant and bar, where patrons are entertained by twice-nightly beauty pageants featuring the “Girls.” It was this last part that intrigued, and we spent precious work hours examining photos of the ladies on the bar’s site. Who would be there? Suelyn, with greased-up décolletage and Western belt? Ana of Ozone Park, whose deluge of boob could not be dammed by mere swimsuit? Or Christina, the half-Asian-looking one, posed near an exotic plant?

From the looks of the 6:30 p.m. showing, it appeared that very few, if any, were present. To our dismay, we arrived to find that the “pageant” consisted of “Girls” (who didn’t much resemble the website photos) sailing across the runway in the world’s quickest bikini fly-by. Cheaters. Disconsolately sipping a syrupy pomegranate margarita ($12), we squeezed into a space at the bar between Beefy Guy No. 34 and Man Who Never Met a Hair Shellac He Didn’t Like. The video screens behind the now-empty catwalk taunted us with images of the real deal: Hawaiian volcanoes descending into the cool surf! Hawaiian Tropic models laughing and running toward the camera in unison! Eight of them needed to push one single canoe!

Our tropical fantasy was dying fast, so we ran off to our second stop, Wall Street bikini bar
Nassau (118 Nassau Street). Alas, this reeked more of college vomitorium than Pacific isle: A string of Christmas-tree lights ran the length of the bar; Bon Jovi and Billy Joel reigned on the jukebox; the walls were covered with posters of the Miller Genuine Draft beer girls bending over in vinyl pants. The bikini-clad bartenders (albeit friendlier and cuter) were like rich chocolate cake under a four-foot steel cage, surrounded by Sopranos-like bouncers ready to suck a troublemaker’s arm out through his left nostril. The bouncers’ presence did put the bartenders at ease, and we marveled at these ladies’ comfort with their half-nakedness. One, in a minuscule black-and-white-striped bottom, confidently strode out to pick songs from the jukebox. Clad in a turquoise bikini and sporting a navel piercing, our bartender took a break to throw down a takeout carton of spaghetti, her leg casually propped up on the table. Upstairs at the ladies’ restroom, we spotted the most scantily clad of the crew. Below her cutout swimsuit bottom (three inches of strategically placed fabric clutching on for dear life), it was possible to glimpse what had been unviewable behind the bar: the thickest, woolliest winter boots we’d ever seen. Illusion be damned—this is winter in New York.