A gay bar for straight people: Midtown's new Wonder Bar is a wonderfully hotmess
"@Wonderbar_HTX my drink is stuck. Also, I think your urinal is coming onto me."
Such would be the type of honest tweet broadcast on one of Wonder Bar's multiple screens. The Midtown bar — a new concept by Darren Van Delden, the same guy behind Red Door and Drake — had its grand opening Thursday night after several weeks of a soft-opening phase, and it's pure schtick. Urinals with mouths, bank tubes shuttling drinks around the bar, hidden streaming video cameras, public tweets via bar screens — it's cool, but it's confused.
One lap inside and you're not sure exactly where you are. There's a portrait of Adam with an actual leaf pinned over his crotchal area (which later investigation will reveal is a small camera, which broadcasts the faces of its intrepid discoverers to the bar), an archway smattered with oil paint, a wall of household objects canvassed in white and arranged nonsensically. On one wall, there is a mural of what appears to be a subway platform. All around, bartendresses bounce.
(After seeing an image of the Rocky Horror-inspired urinals online, I promised to procure the maker's info for a friend, but I soon learned the only referral these ladies could make was to their surgeon).
Drinks fly overhead (most of the time) through pressurized tubes and tables can tweet at the bar or at each other and see their snippets broadcast on the aforementioned video screens, usually adjacent to some face that is faux fellating Adam's little crotch camera. It's madness.
One friend made the remark, confirmed instantly upon its utterance, that it was "a gay bar for straight people." It's definitely different. It's interactive; it's even creative, but it could be better.
The tubes, for one, don't actually do much. If you elect to try one of the "TubeTinis" your drink appears shaken and ready to pour, but instead of handing it over, it's put in a sealed container and launched around the bar, before being delivered back to the bartender. It's sort of nifty, but it doesn't do so much "mixing" as adding a good 45 seconds to your wait time. When you're thirsty, that's an eternity.
And they get stuck. All night and all over the bar, congenial tall dudes thumped on the tubes in an attempt to rescue the marooned drinks. God forbid a drink gets lodged between two walls (a total possibility, since the tubes go through each room and even outside), because I have no idea how you'd dislodge it.
Given the already-installed tubules, one can't help but think it would make more sense to, oh, I don't know, use them to deliver drinks to your table. Instead of tweeting just to see your tweets on screen, you could tweet drink orders to the bar, or use the telephones (there is one on each table) to phone in your drink orders. It'd be all the more incentive to buy a table.
For all of Wonder Bar's kook, they've got plenty of kinks to smooth out. But it's worth a visit — you've got to see it to believe it.