Date: Sat April 30
Place: Del Rey, 2332 First Avenue
Time: 9:40 pm

They've only been open a few weeks and it's relatively early in the evening, but nearly every booth and bar stool is occupied in Del Rey, the newest endeavor from Barça proprietor Richard Hemsley. It's a lovely space with flattering, soft-red lighting, a strategic scattering of tall cafe tables in the room's center, and upholstered booths lining the perimeter. We perch ourselves at one of the tall cafe tables underneath the domed, back-lit ceiling and are almost immediately attended to by an earnest, black-clad female server who turns out to be overwhelmingly efficient at dumping ashtrays and refilling water glasses. All of these factors would have made for an enjoyable cocktail experience if it wasn't for the fact that I found myself wishing that I had either brought earplugs or the rest of the patrons had volume knobs installed on their spinal cords. I'm always mystified when I end up in a club where a theoretically more mature, thirtysomething crowd is shouting at (and over) each other like a bunch of kindergarteners. "Maybe they just never go out on weekdays so they have to get it all out on the weekend," theorizes my companion, wincing as the pack of martini-swilling women near us begin to shriek in unison again. For both personal and acoustic reasons, I decide to check out the ladies' lounge, facilities so apparently alluring that (so our server tells us) women have a habit of dragging their boyfriends to the bathroom with them. Well, whether you were looking for a hot make-out session in one of the dark wooden stalls, a discreet place to gossip with a girlfriend, or simply an oasis from the din outside, I can't imagine a better locale. It's one of the most inviting lounges I've seen, from the fresh, fragrant flowers on the counter, to the oversized, upholstered banquettes and antique brass ashtray encouraging ladies to linger as long as they like. If I wasn't obligated to rescue my companion from the clamor back in the main bar, I probably would have stayed there all night. HANNAH LEVIN

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