Absinthe speakeasy Bedroom 6 is New York’s hottest new nightclub
On a recent Sunday evening, candlelight flickered inside a narrow, white-brick bar on the Lower East Side where, upon entry, chosen guests were required to hand in signed waivers acknowledging potential risks .
A group of millennial and Gen Z strangers exchanged pleasantries as they sat in a bar anchored by an elaborate glass fountain. The ritual began with a shot of coffee liqueur to caffeinate everyone. A blonde-haired host, Griffin Osborne, assured guests they would not experience hallucinations, a warning met with some disappointment.
“It seems like too nice a place for everyone to travel together,” he said as Nena’s “99 Red Balloons” played in the background.
Osborne dropped sugar cubes onto perforated spoons and lit them on fire while guests gaped. Then, finally, it was time to drink absinthe.
“You’re going to come out of yourself, but you’re not going to completely lose yourself,” he said, as the social lube was sipped. “That’s why we call it a transcendent experience.”
Welcome to Room 6, the city’s latest ultra-exclusive nightlife experience. Budding guests – a mix of creatives in art, music, fashion and design, wearing Saint Laurent eyewear, vintage t-shirt finds, red lipstick and mesh bodysuits – must d first add room 6 on instagram and wait to be accepted. (Customers are prioritized on a first-come basis.)
Then a host confirms your reservation and communicates with the exact location on the day of the event, usually Sunday evening. Patrons Venmo operators $66 per person for the experience, which includes absinthe and an assortment of cocktails and wine when seated at a communal table. It’s an intimate, invitation-only club where drinkers mingle with the aniseed spirit loved by Picasso, Hemingway and Dali.
But it’s not quite the same booze that these men drank. Absinthe was banned in 1912 because it was made with wormwood, a plant species thought to have potentially dangerous hallucinogenic or mind-altering effects. The ban was lifted in 2007, but legal absinthe currently on the market can only contain a tiny amount (10 parts per million) of thujone, the chemical compound in absinthe responsible for trippy experiences.
Chamber 6 serves St. George (60% ABV), which contains no more than the legal limit of thujone. Still, the mysterious soiree is generating buzz among New Yorkers looking for human interaction, stylish cocktails and something to brag about on social media.
“We use this centuries-old ritual and bring our own magical alchemy to it to create real interactions,” said event founder Rhys. Osborne, 24, says La Poste.
The idea for the speakeasy was born on the West Coast in 2019, in Osborne’s dorm at the University of Southern California, when he decided to abandon the culture of heavy drinking and games like beer pong and flip cup for more intimate experiences. He also wanted to discover the rich history of absinthe.
“We thought, ‘How can we create a space that speaks to real conversations? ‘” said Osborne, who moved to New York in the summer of 2021.
After the “ritual,” Chamber 6 attendees gathered around a table where pre-written prompts — such as “If you could make everyone understand one thing, what would it be and why?” and “Describe in the third person how you were in high school” – were laid out on crumpled pieces of paper. It was awkward at first, but the guests warmed up as the cocktails took effect.
Mary Suradet, 32, who works in fashion, responded to the first prompt by saying she had cut up her clothes to make new ones and loved how classy the yearbook was. One of her teammates, Kelsey Castillo, 29, remembers being shy and reserved.
By late night, guests were swapping numbers and talking about extending the night with more cocktails at Paul’s Casablanca or maybe an underground rave.
“We say the absinthe ritual makes people have an open heart,” Osborne said. “It’s an icebreaker that puts them on the same page, but the magic really happens when they sit down at the table.”