At Le Boudoir, a sexy space awash in plush velvet and crystal sconces, guests can channel their inner Marie Antoinette and sip cocktails made with French spirits, from a menu designed by Franky Marshall, an alum of NYC’s famed Dead Rabbit.
There’s no signage outside—visitors need to know to enter through Chez Moi, a French restaurant and longtime neighborhood spot—and they’ll be escorted, speakeasy-style, through a faux bookcase and down a narrow, winding stairway, into the sanctuary below.
“We wanted to do a speakeasy, but there are so many 1930s-style places out there,” says Patricia Ageheim, who owns the bar (and restaurant above) with Paris-born husband Tarek Debira. “A boudoir was like a speakeasy, where Marie Antoinette could hang out with her friends and be away from the etiquette of the royal court. You had to be invited.”
The space, the culmination of two years of work, draws inspiration from the famously decadent young queen and the rococo design aesthetic of 18th-century France.
Designed by the Chez Moi team, the intimate lounge features white marble tables and red velvet banquettes that seem ideal for canoodling couples, especially when the lights are drawn low. Above, the arched ceiling is covered with a wooden pattern meant to mimic that of the parquet floor at the Palace of Versailles, home to royalty like Antoinette until the French Revolution. Below, the floor is festooned with a stenciled fleur-de-lis design. Walls are lined with ornate gilded mirrors and antique sconces sourced from French chateaus. Even the toilet is meant to reference the “throne room,” including a doorknob purchased from Versailles (oh, the things you can acquire from eBay these days).
But perhaps the most noteworthy part of the bar has little to do with Marie Antoinette: a stone-lined grotto at the rear of the room—part of a tunnel that leads to Atlantic Avenue.
“We took a sledgehammer and punched through the wall to get to the tunnel,” says Ageheim. Since then, it’s been outfitted with luxe brown leather banquettes, graceful glass-topped tables and French Neoclassical paintings, making it ideal for a small group gathering in utter seclusion.
The cocktail menu, which will change each season, features a selection of classic cocktails (like the French 75) and baroque originals created by Marshall, featuring French spirits and served in fancy goblets and weighty crystal glassware.
For example, the Air Balloon is a refreshing, almost Daiquiri-like sipper made with rhum agricole, Acqua di Cedro (a citrusy eau-de-vie), Green Chartreuse and lime. Meanwhile, the Dauphin is an ideal nightcap, a creamy, lightly sweet mix of absinthe, chile liqueur, almond milk and coconut, garnished with cacao nibs and star anise.
Of course, those who don’t care for a cocktail can choose from a small list of French wines, as well as draft beers pulled from a small bronze bust of Antoinette that serves as the beer tap.