A Tale of Two Bars: Hell’s Kitchen’s Newest Boozy Additions

Some may say that Hell’s Kitchen has too many gay bars, but let’s be honest: New venues are something that we are constantly, desperately on the hunt for. Well, we’re in luck. NYC’s hottest gayborhood has just given glorious birth to two brand-new booze and beats dispensaries.

What becomes a legend most? Well, you can certainly ask the three nightlife legends behind the brand new Rise Bar that question. John Blair and his husband Beto Sutter have been at the helm of almost every legendary gay dance party and club this city has seen in the past three decades. Ted Arenas, their partner, was one of the original owners of Bartini and also has worked as everything from manager to head bartender at many of our favorite clubs and bars.

Rise Bar, on 9th Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets, has just effectively stretched Hell’s Kitchen up a few blocks north. The appropriately billed bar, cabaret and café offers drinks, caffeine and a ton of screens for your viewing pleasure, or for when you’re done looking at your Grindr.

The space is also a perfect size: intimate enough for a meet-up or date, but large enough to keep you from feeling cramped. The high ceilings add an openness to the room. And the bathrooms are awesome! Judging by the stage and massive projection screen behind it, we can expect a whole host of weekly shows and spectacles, personally curated by Blair, Sutter and Arenas.

Rise and shine, Hell’s Kitchen. Let’s start drinking.

Become a fan of Rise Bar by visiting facebook.com/RiseBarNYC

Richie Friendly is fast becoming the new mayor of Hell’s Kitchen. He is already the man behind the curtain at popular venues Mr. Biggs, Mickey Spillane’s, DBL and the recently opened Hell’s Kitchen Ink tattoo parlor. If there is one thing Richie is not good at, it is taking a break and resting on his laurels. Instead, Richie and his partners just opened a new, stunning two-story complex on 46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues.

Why open one bar at one time, when you can open two instead? Bottoms Up and Vodka Soda are stacked on top of each other and offer two distinct vibes. BU/VS (my abbreviation, not theirs) is evocative of the bars of Boystown in Chicago: Multiple rooms that seem to go on forever. Ornate ceilings and dramatic lighting. There’s even an outdoor patio on the ground floor and a deck overlooking Restaurant Row on the second.

There are plenty of nooks, crannies and corners to explore and get lost in, a fiercely lit staircase that connects the two bars, and yes, even a dance space allllll the way in the back. If the jam-packed and social media-adored opening night of BU/VS is any indicator, this new complex can expect a phalanx of cute, inebriated traffic for years to come.

Two new bars in Hell’s Kitchen over the course of two weeks? I’ll drink to that. And I’ll see you all there.

XO Justin Luke

Justin Luke is one of New York’s premiere gay party producers and promoters and the co-owner of the nightlife company BoiParty. He is also a six-time published author and entrepreneur.

Visit JustinLukeNYC.com and BoiParty.com for more info. 


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