The Freehand hotel in New York, in the few years it’s been open, has become a go-to going out spot for younger New Yorkers thanks to its rooftop and series of bar spaces. Yet, as with many places post-pandemic, it was in need of a refresh and thus Carlos Quirarte, Matt Kliegman, and Matthew Charles swept in to bring the space back to life. On Tuesday night, the opening of Authentic Hospitality’s new lounge concept at Freehand New York — Georgia Room and Bar Calico — was toasted with a Day of the Dead launch party, hosted by Agua Mágica mezcal.
Guests were able to get their faces painted as they milled about in search of mezcal cocktails and dancing atop the hotel. The crowd included “Gossip Girl” actor Eli Brown, Hannah Bronfman and more.
“Me and Matt [Kliegman] have been doing parties for over 12 years. I knew we could get people here,” Quirarte said from the Georgia Room, a sweeping ballroom with decor inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe and a large avant-garde disco ball hanging from the center of the room. “But we’re focusing on something a little different with this place, we’re going heavier on the programming. We’re doing a salsa night, we’re doing a line dancing night with these amazing teachers from L.A. We’re doing a piano in the center of the room underneath the disco ball, and everybody is just joining it. You have so many places to go to — we want to offer something different.”
With the pandemic in mind, they created many small private nooks, where people can keep to themselves should they want something less open. The spaces also lend themselves well to first dates — something Quirarte kept in mind.
“I’m married with kids, but I weirdly thought about a lot of my single friends. I thought about that during COVID-19 — about how people were turning to apps, and people were in a vulnerable place for dating and how I want to have a place where you can go do activities with someone that isn’t having Hinge coffee at their coffee shop,” he said. “Like f–k that. You’ll probably marry the guy you learn to square dance with. Or the guy you met at the sing-along piano night. I courted my wife for like six months and that doesn’t happen anymore. So that was a bug push for the programming. I care about the single people.”