Artists, writers, and musicians are an important part of the parish history at all churches. So, for a Swedish photography museum to move in made sense.
Located in New York City’s Gramercy neighborhood, Fotografiska occupies five floors of a registered landmark (built in 1894) named the Church Mission House. The Italianate-style gallery actually “draws” its symmetrical facade of arched windows and decorative enrichments next-door to the cavalry church.
The late 19th-century chapel schoolhouse holds the latest social club in town today. Chapel Bar is a private, posh place for Fotografiska and NeueHouse member communities to link up (and drink up). “We’re bringing together a kindred member base who are passionate about pushing culture forward in their personal and professional lives, and welcoming the magic moments and passionate energy that will come from this gathering of minds and spirits,” Josh Wyatt, CEO of Fotografiska and NeueHouse, shares.
“The concept for Chapel Bar was to build a sanctuary for culture – a place to worship art, photography, fashion, and music in a chic setting.”
– Josh Wyatt, CEO of Fotografiska and NeueHouse
Jewel-toned colors saturate the Gothic Revival space: amethyst purple velvet booths line the plane perimeter with emerald green pillows, and citrine yellow light fixtures illuminate the soaring ceilings. Cutting-edge photography (coinciding with current exhibitions next-door) “bejewel” the retouched walls.
“Chapel Bar has its very own confessional booth that is simultaneously luxe, playful, and iconic. It’s completely unique,” beverage director John Gakuru adds. Servers can even deliver “sinful” guests through a hatch like a real confessional booth.
Social congregation surrounds the “altar” bar, too. Front and center (beneath a bedazzled chandelier), the blest bar consecrates wine and spirits created by global monks, priests, and influential figures – both historic and folkloric. God willing members of A.A. don’t enter the wrong door one night.
“It’s a decadent culture haven!” Gakuru describes. The drink menu worships the location – raising the sense of place through “christened” ingredients. Plymouth Gin was created in the Black Friar’s monastery in Plymouth, England, while mezcal was first smuggled into the United States by a bootlegger disguised as a faithful priest.
Chartreuse, made (to this day) by Carthusian monks since 1737, is demonstrated in two of the ten curated cocktails labeled in Roman numerals – I. being a tangy take on the Last Word. Distilled and aged in the Abbey of Trinity of Fécamp, D.O.M. Bénédictine is a subtle alchemy of 27 different plants and spices. The unique liqueur is folded into IX. with Cognac, sweet vermouth and various bitters for a silky and rich palate. The French monk Dom Pierre Pérignon (is thought to have) invented Champagne in 1697, and so the enlightened bubbly is added to III. alongside legal absinthe.
The spirited bar staff proudly shakes and stirs for praising members four nights per week. “The biggest challenge [was] keeping it a secret during our build-up! But that isn’t an issue any longer,” Gakuru mentions. To experience Chapel Bar, guests will need to sign up to become either a Fotografiska Patron or NeueHouse member. “Join us for the ride!”
“Our delicious twist on the Last Word [is] the perfect balance of sweet, sour, and herbaceous. It’s a classical delight,” Gakuru concludes.
- 1 oz. Hendrick’s Lunar Gin
- 3/4 oz. Green Chartreuse
- 3/4 oz. Luxardo Maraschino
- 3/4 oz. Lime Juice
- Luxardo Cherry
Preparation: Combine ingredients for a long shake, then double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a Luxardo cherry.