The rush to decadence in New York’s bars

New York's Oscar Wilde bar
You’ll be able to resist everything but temptation in New York’s new bar

“When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is.” So said Oscar Wilde. It is likely, therefore, that he would have been delighted by the extravagance of a New York pub dedicated to him. The owners of the new Oscar Wilde bar in New York City have lavished $4m on decoration, “sparing no expense as they scoured the world for the finest of extravagant furnishings”, says Sheila Flynn in the Daily Mail. Notable touches include a $102,000 player piano sourced from 1880s Belgium; stained glass found and refurbished in Milan; and panelling sourced from an old Irish castle. There’s also a $75,000 grand clock and a $63,000 Georgian entrance fireplace. The carved 115-foot marble bar allegedly “cost a whopping $415,000”.

However, even Wilde would probably have considered the “looming life-size statue of the flamboyant writer waiting to welcome customers” a gesture too far. Similarly, the 26 clocks set at ten to two – when the “final act of death took place” – seem just a wee bit on the obsessive side.

Still, by the standards of other bars in the Big Apple, it is almost restrained. “To stay ahead of the competition,” New York’s bar owners “are pushing the envelope in a variety of ways,” says Charles Passy in The Wall Street Journal. For example, the Library of Distilled Spirits, between Broadway and Fourth Avenue, “features about 1,000 different spirits, including 170 Scotches, 140 American whiskeys and even 25 Japanese ones”. For an additional flourish, “the bottles are displayed on bookshelves, with bartenders having to use a rolling library ladder to reach the offerings on top”. Another bar “pours around 400 different agave spirits – not only tequila, but also mezcal, raicilla and sotol”.

The aim of such luxury is to encourage patrons to splurge their hard-earned cash on each establishment’s ludicrously overpriced wares. One popular drink, the 162-ounce Mega Mule, “a plus-size version of the popular Moscow Mule cocktail”, includes “more than half a bottle of vodka and is served in a gigantic copper cup”. The drink is for groups to share, and costs between $150 and $185, depending upon which bar you buy it in. Designed to be “an attention-getter”, bar-owners claim that it seems to be having the desired effect. “As soon as one table orders it, another soon follows.”

Unsurprisingly, the French do things much more elegantly. Golden Promise in Paris “gives little indication as to its existence or what one might find upon entering”, says Sara Liberman in GQ. However, if you manage to negotiate a security system that “will make you feel as if you’ve arrived at a super-secret destination”, you’ll eventually reach “a vaulted corridor lined with rare and limited-edition” tipples. These “holy grail bottles” are available “for upwards of 1,300” and “can be stored for you inside a special room, complete with lockers and velvet armchairs”. The venue is available for “groups, dates, or noble visitors such as Prince Albert of Monaco, who has a bottle of 1958 Glen Grant in locker 58 – his birth year”.

Tabloid money… the magic money tree sprouting in Downing Street

 Theresa May told a nurse that there’s “no magic money tree” to give her a pay rise, but she was able to shake its branches to deliver £100m for each of the ten DUP MPs to buy their support, says John Prescott in the Daily Mirror. The May-DUP deal “shames democracy and Britain”. “It is pointless to bring back power and resources from faceless bureaucrats in Brussels if it’s just going to help to grow
a magic money tree in Downing Street.”

Don’t blame Theresa May for schools such as Danemill in Leicestershire for shutting early on Fridays, says Rod Liddle in The Sun. It’s “more likely” the teachers fancied clocking off at 1pm so they could have a nice long weekend. Parents of Danemill children are “furious”. The teachers say they’ve got to do it because of “the cuts”, but the notion that they are to blame is “ludicrous”. “If other schools can get by, why can’t Danemill?” The truth is there “have been no cuts”. We are spending a record amount on education, and a greater proportion of our spending than France and Germany. It’s our “whingeing, moaning” teachers who are to blame. “If Danemill’s local education authority had any balls, they’d sack the
head teacher.”

“From a distance, Petra Stunt’s (pictured) existence seemed gilded, enviable,” says Jan Moir in the Daily Mail. But that notion was put to rest in a London court this week “as the Tupperware lid was peeled back on the rancid leftovers” of the socialite’s marriage. Six years after their £12m wedding, Petra Stunt née Ecclestone and James Stunt are over. In court, Petra accused James of abusive behaviour and James “behaved like an utter idiot”. They have “effortlessly lived up to the modern adage that the bigger and more flamboyant the wedding, the shorter and more brutish the marriage”. It seems money really can’t buy you happiness, says Moir.