Here’s something that will get you back to the office pronto: a cocktail with your commute.
That’s right — a sparkling new bar has opened in a dingy Midtown subway station.
At the 50th Street downtown 1 train stop, on Broadway beneath the Duane Reade, is Nothing Really Matters — one of only three subway watering holes in New York City’s 472-station transit system (not including Grand Central and Penn Station).
Thirsty straphangers lured in by its open door look like kids at FAO Schwarz when they enter stumbling — out of confusion, not inebriation. Commuters, tourists and Broadway actors have been stopping by constantly over the past three weeks to snap pictures and ask questions.
Nothing Really Matters started pouring drinks on New Year’s Eve, seemingly out of nowhere. Unlike blinding Times Square above, there’s no blazing marquee out front or a sign outside the station that says “This way to booze.” The chill vibe is by design.
“I love the idea of being found,” owner Adrien Gallo told The Post. “Once people experience this, that’s enough signage for us.”
Tipple near the turnstiles
Gallo, who used to own the now-closed downtown bars Double Happiness and Palais Royale, didn’t have his heart set on the MTA for his new cocktail joint. His top goal was to find somewhere unique.
“Of course a storefront in the East Village or Soho is great for certain types of places,” he said. “But what I was looking to do is something fun and underground.”
So in early 2020, when he saw the 10-feet-under 50th Street space, which for years had been a storage unit for Duane Reade, he jumped at the chance to sign a lease. Then the pandemic hit.
“Rent was building up and I gave what I could,” Gallo said, adding that he nearly walked away from the project three times. “Thankfully my landlord and I saw eye-to-eye. He’s been amazing. We’ve been working together for two years to make this come to fruition.”
He called the place Nothing Really Matters as an homage to the Queen “Bohemian Rhapsody” lyric, but also because after a hard day at work, he wants his customers to take a breath and relax before they hop on the train.
Situated on a landing before you reach the turnstiles, the spot used to be part of a subterranean street. There was a longstanding barbershop, a Dunkin Donuts and a bodega, all of which have closed. Another bar, Siberia — a divey favorite of Jimmy Fallon and the late Anthony Bourdain — which partly sat where Nothing Really Matters is, moved further downtown in 2001.
The new bar is not trying to channel the notoriously divey Siberia, though.
Gallo designed a warm but industrial room with a 74-person capacity. There are lines of red neon on one wall, evoking Times Square’s electric boldness. There are no TVs playing NFL games, and the main event is a sprawling bar that runs the length of the space and has hundreds of illuminated bottles that look almost too pretty to drink. Almost.
Head mixologist Cyllan Hicks’ drinks are a nice break from the martinis and pints that most Midtown hangouts offer.
“What does Midtown not have? Cocktail bars,” Gallo said.
The apple and pear gin-based Fearless Girl ($18) has a hint of wintry spice and the Knickerbocker Bramble ($18), with bourbon, blueberry, lemon and rosemary, is compulsively sippable. There are also classic cocktails, often using NY-made liquors, and a small beer and wine list.
Heading home after a few, it’s a shock to the senses to leave the hip, dimly lit hot spot and reenter the disgusting 50th Street station. But that is part of the charm.
“It’s a weird triangle-shaped bar in [a] s–tty little subway station,” Gallo said. “Which is awesome!”