Earlier this week I went to Ava Lounge in midtown, so now you don't have to. Ava's a cold, uncomfortable bar with an equally chilly waitstaff and a limited selection of booze. It's located on the roof of the Dream Hotel, whose decor scheme is a jarring assemblage of sci-fi motifs, Japanese manga, and Eastern religious artifacts. The bar pares down to a more futurist/minimalist look: its website features a woman with Bjork-style knots in her hair and assaults your ears with sultry beats. When you get off of the elevator you're in the lounge, which boasts the frowny bartenders, a cocktail list that's heavy on ingredients like Sour Apple Pucker and Malibu, and...Goldfish crackers? Don't get me wrong, I eat fistfuls of Goldfish whenever the opportunity presents itself, but they seemed out of place.
After ordering a round of rum and cokes and vodka tonics, my friends and I made our way up to the roof deck, which has an oddly disappointing view. The building's shorter than the ones around it, so you look into twelfth floor windows rather than out on spangly spires. Rooftop bars are supposed to make you feel glamorous and cosmopolitan — this one made me feel like a creep. You have to climb a steep and narrow staircase to access it from the lounge below, and when you're done drinking (or have been forced downstairs because all the tables are reserved and there's nowhere to sit) you have to descend it. Maybe I'm just not enough of a grownup for this kind of challenge to my motor skills after a night out, but it seems ill-conceived. There are lots of fun, pretty, friendly bars in midtown (aren't there?) — when you hit 55th and Broadway, just keep walking.
210 W 55th St (at Broadway) in the Dream Hotel