Skip to main content

NYC’s Oscar Wilde Bar Celebrates the Author’s Larger-than-Life Exploits

More than a century after his death in 1900, the legend of Oscar Wilde lives on in his books, plays, poems, and most quotable quotes. Now, two New York restaurateurs honor his legacy with the opening of the appropriately named Oscar Wilde in downtown Manhattan’s former Prohibition Enforcement Headquarters building. True to the author’s larger-than-life exploits which oft included thumbing his nose at the conventional, the restaurant/bar is anything but boring.

To venture into the newly opened space is like stepping through a time portal — one dedicated to unabashed extravagance. Every square inch has been fawned over and meticulously curated with ornate Victorian-era seating, furnishings, and unique knick knacks, creating what could easily be confused as the set of a Sherlock Holmes tale-turned-film. The long list of one-of-a-kind antique accouterments (detailed on the bar’s website) includes 18th-century castle fireplace inlays, French China cabinets from Paris, Welsh chandeliers, a Belgian piano from the 1890s, and a 19th-century London grandfather clock.

Related Videos

The gorgeous 118.5-foot bar is the longest in New York City, lined with one-armed Mexican bar stools inspired by “the Irish exit.” A separate whiskey bar boasts more than 300 spirits with a Champagne-focused cocktail menu inspired largely by the Victorian and Prohibition eras. The drinks are every bit as flamboyant as the bar itself: the Prohibition Manhattan (Masterson’s Canadian Rye, Carpano Antica, bitters, and a cherry) is served in a tea cup, while the Absinthe Drip is served traditionally with only absinthe and sugar via an authentic absinthe fountain. Lunch and dinner are available seven days a week. Every plate puts a creative spin on comfort food (like Crispy Cauliflower Buffalo Wings) and hearty, traditional Irish fare (think Cottage Pie and an Irish beef Wilde Burger with house-made pickled vegetables).

The Oscar Wilde bar is the brainchild of Irish natives Frank McCole and Tommy Burke, locally famous as the owners of Papillon Bistro & Bar and Lillie’s Victorian Establishment (another worthwhile destination with locations in Union Square and Times Square). The two grew up reading the author’s iconic literature in County Mayo. So, it’s no surprise the duo wanted “the bar to celebrate his legacy and become an inclusive destination for all.” Hats off, gents. It’s a fitting tribute to a man who described himself thusly:

“I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied by the best.”

Editors' Recommendations

Drink up at the very best bars in all of America
Where does one go in America for the very best bar experience? These 24 joints, turns out
best bars platform 18 centrury grand phoenix

Sometimes, the job of a drinks writer is harder than others. Selecting the best bars in America, for example, is no small task. There are so, so many choices and so many of them have a lot of positives going for them.

But the very best of the bunch are great because they provide a little bit of everything. The space is inviting, the cocktails are incredible, the wine and beer selection is often off the charts, and, quite simply, you never want to leave. Out list is a nice collection of all kinds of watering holes, from newly-devised spots with clever approaches to longstanding joints with a proven reputation.

Read more
Why the experts say you need to embrace keg wine
Beer is not the only thing worthy of a draft line. Good wine is too, as more and more producers are showing
Keg wine from Settembre Cellars.

Keg wine has become more common than ever and the reasons to support the stuff are many. It's a functional, environmentally friendly option that's being taken more and more seriously by wine pros and drinkers alike. Turns out, tap lines are not just for fresh-hop IPAs and pilsners; they're for Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc too.

First, a bit of history. Wine on draft is nothing new, first gaining a hold in certain markets a couple of decades back. The problem, however, was perception, as is typically the case with wine. Most people thought there was no way a good wine could be served from a draft handle. And, regrettably, many people continue to feel that way today.

Read more
The bar’s future is here and it’s… in a container?
Where's the watering hole headed? This container bar in Boston is a good example
Yellow Door Taqueria bar in Boston.

The future of the bar as we know it is in Bean Town. It's the container bar at Yellow Door Taqueria, a model establishment that's managed to take the pandemic in stride. And it's shaping the way bars are headed going forward.

The bar opened this summer in Boston's South End. The menu includes specialty cocktails, a family of Margaritas, and even shots of mezcal. But it's the nature of the bar itself, set in a shiny red container on a sprawling patio, that's part of a bigger food and drinks trend.

Read more