Best Bar For Gawking At Old Money (1999)
The Leopard Lounge
Those are Ben Franklins you smell in the lobby of the Chesterfield Hotel. Crisp and tightly packed in a gold money clip, placed neatly inside the interior pocket of a pinstriped suit jacket. The portly gentleman wearing the suit saunters, Dominican in hand, toward the dark-wood-and-brass bar at the hotel restaurant, the Leopard Lounge. Two dignified middle-aged women with martinis ("Very dry, please") chat at small, low-to-the-ground cocktail tables by the dance floor. A three-piece band croons Sinatra tunes. The portly man with the Dominican smiles at the women and does a two-step past them. Were it not for the friendly bartenders, the live swing and dance music, and the nudes painted on the ceiling in swirls of red and white, the Leopard Lounge might at first glance appear to be too austere a place for even the bluest of blue bloods among us. But since it opened about ten years ago, the Leopard has been real money's top choice for a drink. Yes, there are celebrities: Alan King, Phyllis Diller -- even Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown (when he's not in jail or rehab). But they're bourgeois. Real money is invisible, because real money doesn't boast. And the Leopard Lounge is high society, where discussions of money -- greenbacks, moolah, cash, dough, shekels, secret accounts in the Cayman Islands -- are considered gauche. So if you start chatting with someone at the Leopard Lounge, just assume he or she has more money than God. Or you. And let him or her pick up the tab.