Nightlife

Ding-dong!, DOMA is dead. The clouds part and Supreme Court Justice Kennedy's voice booms from above: "The avowed purpose and practical effect of the law here in question are to impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the States … DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution."

I must have been born out of my time. My favorite music is swing, and what I wouldn’t give to have lived in the era of the big bands (roughly 1925-45), and heard Benny Goodman’s rendition of “Sing, Sing, Sing,” culminating in that sexy drum solo, when it debuted. Well, recently I did get a sense of those days at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Swinging with the Big Bands concert.

What do you get when you combine a clothing outlet, home accessories store, restaurant and bar? The answer is as refreshing as a tropical breeze: Tommy Bahama. Essentially, the place is a Bahama-themed superstore, where you can shop, eat and drink in one fell swoop. Men can pick up an airy linen shirt while women can dig out that perfect sun dress or beach shawl.

When you visit Wise Men, you may be surprised to find that the intimate East Village bar and restaurant is a well-kept secret set behind a facade featuring a full-blown vintage photograph of five Chinese women. In fact, Wise Men is full of pleasant surprises. Once you locate the place, which is at once obscure and obvious, subtly marked but with a striking storefront, you'll enter the windowless room to find a welcoming, intoxicating glowy-red ambiance not unlike what you may imagine a late-night Hong Kong hot spot to look and feel like.

On the hottest days in the city, many flock to the outdoor tables that line the streets on every block of the happening neighborhoods. Others descend to subterranean speakeasies with drinks called Rum Swizzles filled to the brim with crushed ice, a whole blackberry and mint sprig to top it off. I fall into the latter category, or at least I did on the first day of our heat wave, when I near desperately fled down the flight of stairs and into the dark, cool bar, Little Branch. Located in the West Village, the bar is unassuming to passersby.

I admit this with some amount of shame, but I don’t know my beer. Sure, terms like “dark” and “light” I can get a handle on, but especially a few months ago I might have guessed that Doppelbock and Weizenbock were monsters from German folklore rather than something I would ever drink. Because of this handicap, I would have expected that wandering into a haven for beer enthusiasts would make me feel like a Neanderthal entering the Louvre.

It's Friday night and you're dead-set on going out—soul itching for excitement, belly beseeching you for booze. But where to go? You'd like to drink, but not too much. You want to dance, but can't handle ear-bursting bass right now. You'd like to see-and-be-seen, but don't really want to cough up all your cash. In a city crammed with bars, how does one decide on a final destination? Destination Bar, an East Village staple, makes the choice for you.

At the end of a long week, the body and mind belong in a happy shavasana—or fetal position, whichever you prefer—under a fluffy down comforter for some well-deserved rest. Instead, I ended up at a sweaty dance club, which perhaps was the most natural and needed antithesis to my truer instincts.

It’s been a long day. And a late night is looming--got to get the May issues of the magazine off to the printer. Taking a break to check my email, I’m reminded of an invitation to a single-malt scotch tasting this very evening. In celebration of Tartan Week (whatever that is—the Irish have their day, the Scots have their week, I guess), it’s happening just across the street from the office, so—swearing to myself (and my boss) I’ll be gone no more than a half-hour, I descend into the still-light, but still-cold April evening, an associate in tow.

NYC is the continental capital for ultra high-end nightlife experiences. Extravagance and excess are trademarks of our city's tippling culture, and the options are tantalizing—haute cocktails made by master mixologists, lounges furnished with seating upholstered in ostrich leather, table service underneath crystal chandeliers and late nights on packed, quaking dance floors.

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