Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"The Top-Secret New York Bar That’s Only Big Enough for Two Customers"

Suddenly, like magic (or like “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”), we found ourselves entering an even smaller space: a full-blown miniature saloon, just large enough to accommodate a single bartender and exactly two guests.

The idea for Threesome Tollbooth grew out of another of the “experiences” that Austin, who works mostly as a designer of them, orchestrated recently. A man he knew, he told us, had commissioned Austin to come up with something dramatic as a grand gesture to win over his estranged wife—a couple of some celebrity, Austin admitted, though he wouldn’t name names. (“Blink twice if it’s Jay-Z and BeyoncĂ©!”) So Austin had put together a custom-made, one-time pop-up bar in an actual tollbooth, an abandoned one on a rail bridge over a river in New Jersey. Did it work?


The price of a visit to the Tollbooth is a hundred and ten dollars per person; Austin and the Tollbooth’s co-creator, the lexicographer and cocktail connoisseur Jesse Sheidlower, pay rent on the closet-sized space, of an amount they prefer not to specify. “What I will say,” Austin allowed, “is that this is possibly going to work as a business and not just, like, a fun project.” So far, news of the bar has spread entirely through word of mouth.