When it previewed during Fashion Week, Armin Amiri's Mister H hosted the Prabal Gurung afterparty and a joint bash thrown by Alexander Wang and V Man magazine. The latter drew Kanye West, further assuring Mister H a spot at the top of the nightlife pecking order. The Lilliputian lounge on the ground floor of the spanking new Mondrian SoHo officially opens tomorrow. (Hollywood types jonesing for an Oscar weekend party can get a taste this weekend with the Mister H satellite at the Mondrian Los Angeles.)
When The Feast talked to Amiri (the former Socialista owner and Bungalow 8 gatekeeper), he emphasized the inclusive, relaxed vibe of Mister H once you get inside. But its 120-person capacity means you should bring your A-Game to the door.
Who, and what, is Mister H?
When the Morgans Hotel Group approached me and said I could do what I wanted to do, I went through this fantasy land in my head. I thought, 'what image would I put myself in?" And I thought of the place where Humphrey Bogart would have his last drink before he went home. He'd go to a place owned by Mister Hung. Mister Hung is a guy that's constantly out there to service the Westerners. There was a place in Shanghai in 1939 called The Westerners. And it was designed to help Americans and the English feel at home. I wanted to create a place like that, lost in "Alice in Wonderland." Mister H is here to help you enter a different world. And it'll be unique to each person, like if they were tripping.
Is nightlife lacking places that really transport you these days?
Yes, although others have done great stuff that accomplishes it. Like Boom Boom Room--the view alone is gorgeous. You can't get better than that.
Will there be bottle service?
People can buy a bottle if they want to, but I don't want to shove it down their throat. Spending money is not the criteria for getting a table. Everyone can come in, sit down and enjoy themselves. The bar's designed for singles to feel comfortable and be able to interact. And we've got eight great drinks at the bar.
Between Mister H, Mulberry Project and Le Baron, there's a nightlife boom in this area. How do you like the Neighborhood?
I'm very new to the neighborhood, but it's cool like, way back, the Meatpacking District used to be cool. But this is still really chill. There's not as much foot traffic and a little more mystery and danger.
It's not West 27th Street.
Oh God, no. God forbid.
What was one highlight of the Fashion Week parties?
Mia Moretti, our house D.J., killed it at Prabal.
Do you agree that New Yorkers don't dance enough anymore when they go out?
I'd say so, but here we've been dancing a lot. I want people to walk in and be ready to have a good shimmy-shimmy. The place is small, so people might have trouble at the door. Once they're here, I really would like them to enjoy themselves.
And you've got Disco, another Bungalow 8 alum, working the door?
Disco's an old friend. He does our security and he helps our doorman Christian better choose the people who are supposed to come in.
Will you jump back in the doorman game?
I've already done it a couple of times. I can't resist. It's very tough to say no. When you say no to someone, your energy shifts just like theirs. No one's really winning at the end. It comes with a little judgment, and then you ask if you judge yourself. So you have to do some homework on yourself before you go out there and be an irresponsible door guy. Still, there are fun parts to it. There's a lot of laughter between the guys.
Have you ever second guessed those door judgments?
Yes, many times. And then I run after the people I didn't let in. We all make mistakes. You have to own them and correct them. I've made some great friends that way.
Through rejection. Then I took care of them and we developed a mutual respect.
Have there been any changes to Mister H since Fashion Week?
We'll have have a fog about an inch off the ground at all times. You'll feel like you're in San Francisco or Shanghai. But no cigarette smoke--none of that monkey business. We'll also have a stripper pole. Women and men these days really like to get up there. I've seen guys get after it, although you won't see me up there anytime soon.
You encourage patrons to get frisky. How frisky can they get before they're kicked out?
They can do whatever they want to do! Where do you draw the line? As long as the fun and sexuality is kept in good taste. That's what this place is all about. We're not selling books here. That said, we do have some books stacked behind the bar.
What else is behind the bar?
I'd like to sell a lot of alcohol, but I want it to be conscious drinking. I worked with a feng shui expert, Dee Kelly. There are six panels at the bar, but she put eight bricks behind the panels to balance the number of drinks on the menu. We don't want nastiness, no blacking out. People will drink, but like the neon Chinese characters on the way say, it will be a "Happy Love Drunk."