You could use a lot of words to describe Midnight Rambler, the cocktail den located in the basement of the Joule Hotel. I’ve heard everything from “soulful” and “vintage” to “cinematic” and my personal favorite, “sultry,” and it’s easy to see why. The bar feels both vintage and modern, hinting at certain eras while never evoking one in particular, and no matter how glamorous and upscale its surfaces look, it never feels stuffy or unapproachable. With all the mixing and layering involved in its design, Midnight Rambler gives off an original, cohesive vibe, and we’re officially impressed. To get an idea for how they pulled off such a remarkable feat, we turned to co-owner and cocktail genius Christy Pope.
CC: How would you define the design style of Midnight Rambler?
CP: The design for Midnight Rambler takes a subversive approach, drawing inspiration from the brand concept of serving serious cocktails in a warm analog envelope. Designed by the TENOVERSIX team, the focus is on layering literal and figurative texture to create a space with a soulful, gritty, rock ‘n’ roll vibe. Taking cues from the photography of Robert Frank, William Eggleston and Nan Goldin the space has a moody, ’60s cinematic feel throughout its design.
CC: How did TenOverSix’s team help you achieve your original vision for the bar?
CP: Working with the TENOVERSIX team was a very intuitive collaboration as there were many shared reference points and an overall alignment of vision. As New Yorkers we wanted the space to have an edge (a gritty rock and roll feel), while also capturing an elegance and design palate befitting of the Joule Hotel. We did not want a room that was a realization of a particular era, as so many craft cocktail bar are. While Midnight Rambler evokes a Mid-Century feel, there are many classic, deco, and modern design elements that keeps the space from feeling like a set design and the mixed palate gives the space its own wholly original design language.
CC: One of my favorite elements of Midnight Rambler’s design is all the industrial lighting and pendants. It creates such a cool look. Can you tell us more about it?
CP: Lighting is extremely important in nightlife and the creation of atmosphere… a bar should be dark and sultry with warm ambient glows. The use of varied lighting fixtures by Robert Lewis, Jason Miller, adorn the room, along with a custom chandelier pendant by artisan Jason Koheric and a mounted light box fixture by John Wigmore is featured in the center of the main bar.
CC: No one can make a visit to the bar without later mentioning the art. The “CAVIAR” canvases are particularly memorable. What did you look for when choosing the artwork?
CP: The TENOVERSIX team sourced the CA.VIAR paintings by California artist, Jason Koheric. The paintings are a statement of his time living and working and the excesses of California. The scale of these pieces are perfect and dramatic in the MR space.
CC: As glamorous and upscale as the bar looks, it somehow never feels unapproachable. What do you think creates such a comfortable atmosphere?
CP: Creating an approachable space was very important to us, as a bar should be inviting and a place where a person feels they can let their hair down- so-to-speak. Again, we really love the tension of juxtaposition in the design… gritty but elegant, vintage and contemporary, light and dark… the TENOVERSIX team had a very deft hand with balancing design elements to create an original and approachable feel.
CC: What design elements do you think fans of the bar’s décor should look for to get the feel in their own homes?
CP: Juxtaposing points of view… old and new, hard and soft, textiles and patterns… allowing unexpected elements play off each other. Choose whimsical pieces to mix in with classic design to develop a sense of personality in your space.
CC: What are your favorite design elements in Midnight Rambler?
CP: There are many great elements of design to Midnight Rambler but I am particularly fond of the sense of discovery and revelation that comes from the entrance: the slick, dark, moody stairwell, that opens into a warm, ambient, wide barreled walnut ceiling room with terrazzo checkerboard flooring… it feels alive and energetic.
For more on the drinks and experience at Midnight Rambler, head over to D Magazine to read their review.