On the corner of Fifth Avenue and Thirty-Sixth Street, Bar on Fifth is located in The Setai, a luxury boutique hotel at 400 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10018.
Bar on Fifth is live and happening in midtown Manhattan. Guests soak up its Mediterranean flow, the rhythm of classical Jazz, and the elegant bar. I visited on Thursday, April 28th at 8PM, and sat in a soft, white, wing-back leather chair, while I waited for my friends, Sherrod and Kelli. I glanced over at the mahogany book cases: Federico Fellini: The Films by Tullio Kezich, Villas of Tuscany by Carlo Crestic, and The Great Book of French Impressionism by Diane Kelder.
Just as I reached for Steinberg at The New Yorker by Joel Smith, my friends strode in. Immediately, a tall and stunning Hostess approached our table, and we ordered drinks. Kelli decided on a glass of the Ramey Russian River Valley, Chardonnay, Sherrod requested the Full Tilt (Absolut Mango Vodka), and I went for the Malbec, Obra Prima Reserva, Familia Cassone.
We chatted away, but the main topic seemed to return to Jazz. The live music entranced us, and enhanced our relaxed feeling in one another’s company. The conversation moved along as Sherrod ordered some shared dishes: Cod Croquette, Truffle Tartar, and Asparagus and Prosciutto Béarnaise.
Around 9PM, the musicians took a break. I was curious as to who they were. I said to my friends, “Hey guys, I’ll be right back,” and walked over to the grand bar to introduced myself.
“Hi,” I said. “Your music is amazing, and my friends and I are enjoying it so.”
They smiled and I continued, “Do you guys have a minute to stop by and meet them? Oh, by the way, my name is Wanda.”
“Hi, I’m Jeremy Manasia.”
“I’m Joseph Lepore.”
“I’m Shinnosuke Takahashi.”
The trio followed me. After introductions, we six Jazz lovers were discussing our shared passion. Minutes later, four were enthralled in one conversation, and two in another.
I asked Mr. Manasia, “Did you always want to be a musician?”
He laughed. “I wanted to be a baseball player when I was young. I love the Yankees.”
“What do you like about being a Jazz pianist?” I asked?
His friendly green eyes glistened. He said, “For me playing music is the ultimate way to express oneself. At the same time, being an artist is a way of life. I love the piano; the piano is the harmony and I like that. It’s central to every aspect of playing music. But then each instrument–the bass, drum, horn, and the soloist–helps support one another to make beautiful music.”
I said, “It seems that luxury boutique hotels have morphed into the places to go for Jazz. What do you say about Bar on Fifth?”
Jeremy paused for a second. “It’s really about intimacy, isn’t it? There’s something about live music that adds to that intimacy. It makes the experience special.” He sipped his wine, and added, “Bar on Fifth has great wine, the single malts are great, and the waiting staff is first-class. Even if you don’t like Jazz, it’s a great place to be.”
Someone mentioned the time, and Joseph, Shinnosuke, and Jeremy said their good-byes; their next Jazz set was about to begin.
My friends and I stayed for another fifteen minutes. The manager, Nicholas Wirth, thanked us for coming, and I thought, “Bar on Fifth is classy. It’s a kind of majestic dream where one escapes from the bustling Manhattan streets. And that–indeed–is a cozy treat.”
This story is dedicated to Mike Marion who was a sweet, majestic star.