Cocktail Architect Yusef Austin on the Mixing Room, Which Opened Sunday


The bar at the Lexington New York City in midtown east hasn’t exactly been known for its cocktails. “It had this almost sports bar vibe,” says Yusef Austin, who calls himself a cocktail architect and consults on mixology programs around the world. “It needed a lot of help.”

Help came in the form of a $46 million hotel remodel, which recast the lounge as the Mixing Room, an Art Deco-themed spot that pays homage to Arthur Godfrey, Dorothy Lamour, Marilyn Monroe, and Joe DiMaggio, all former guests of the building.

Now, says Austin, the bar “takes you back to the time when people got dressed up to go out and drink nice drinks.” Plush, low-slung banquettes line dark walls bedecked with colorful art, round club chairs, and gilded ottomans surround a sleek bar, and the crowd is suit-heavy, with business travelers and office warriors popping in for a post-work cocktail.

To fit the space, Austin rolled out a menu of seasonal drinks that “are from different parts of my life,” he explains. The spotted plum, for instance, comes from a South African safari. After seeing a spotted leopard, he put together a drink with gin and plums, which became a regular part of his arsenal. His spin on the negroni, which features blood orange and fennel, comes from a trip to Sardinia; his cucumber cooler infuses tequila with green tea and cucumber and hails from a party at the Electric Room. And then there are cocktails like the rosy melon, which pairs rosemary-infused vodka with cantaloupe in an attempt to recall a ham-and-melon play, and the Lexington, for which Austin chose mezcal for the smokiness and married it to St. Germain, watermelon, and honey syrup. “It has a nice soft feel,” he explains.

Look, too, for classics like the Fitzgerald (basically a Hemingway daiquiri), sidewinder (side car), and a martini with blue-cheese-stuffed olives.

Each Tuesday, those cocktails pair with a little live music, too: The Mixing Room enlisted the New York Jazz Workshop to play from 6 to 7:45 p.m. weekly.

The Mixing Room debuted officially on Sunday.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story made mention of a Great Gatsby-themed party on September 10. That party is not happening, and so the story has been updated.

Hit the next page for a few photos.