(Bloomberg) -- For the first time, the 2023 Tony Awards ceremony will take place in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood, in the ornate grandeur of the United Palace theater. The nearly 3,400-seat hall will welcome a marquee roster of Broadway talent alongside Academy Award-winner and Tony Award-nominee Ariana DeBose, returning to host the annual extravaganza in consecutive years. And while the over-the-top venue—an architectural pastiche designed by Thomas Lamb, with interiors by Harold Rambusch (of Radio City Music Hall fame)—exudes innate theatricality, an even-more-spectacular speakeasy has been created inside for VIP guests.
Up the grand staircase, beyond frosted-glass double doors and beneath an historic art deco fixture that reads “VIP Lounge,” ultra-premium Guatemalan rum brand Zacapa and French luxury crystal maison Baccarat have transformed a second-floor space into an exclusive green room. Baccarat custom-designed the centerpiece of the speakeasy, a serving counter lined with shimmering crystal tiles and topped with a slab of black onyx with thick, golden veins that nod to the color of Zacapa rum. The bar is flanked by rounded bottles of Zacapa’s top-shelf expression, XO, and Baccarat crystal glassware on shelves.
Through the room, crystal vases from Baccarat’s Eye, Harcourt and Luxor collections will overflow with white orchids, many illuminated by a Philippe Starck-designed Bon Jour Versailles lamp. Starck also designed the speakeasy’s showstopping highlight: an ultra-luxe Zenith chandelier composed of rare, black crystal, suspended at eye line. Standing tables, a smattering of velvety seats and custom-designed Baccarat pedestals will pepper a floor space enclosed by one stained-glass wall, one composed of mirrors and the others painted a deep red suggesting a Baccarat Rouge bottle.
“The Tony Awards bring together those at the pinnacle of their craft. These people bring joy and light to millions in the theater and beyond,” Adam Banfield, president and chief executive officer of Baccarat North America, tells Bloomberg. “For nearly 260 years, Baccarat has similarly been a source of light and joy—and with our shared emphasis on craft, we can’t think of a more fitting partnership. We are thrilled to be able to create this first-ever speakeasy experience at the Tonys, and to welcome attendees into the House of Baccarat.”
Nominees, including Audra McDonald, Josh Groban, J. Harrison Ghee, Jessica Chastain, Annaleigh Ashford, Ben Platt, Sara Bareilles, Samuel L. Jackson and Alex Newell, will have the opportunity to slip backstage to the speakeasy for a break from the bright lights, as will presenters and select guests. The refuge will be carefully guarded.
Inside the speakeasy, local bartenders will serve a pair of cocktails inspired by Washington Heights and developed by Zacapa and master mixologist Lynnette Marrero. The caffeinated “XO on a Cloud” pairs the sipping rum with Guatemalan cold brew, pimento bitters and a spiced cacao simple syrup. Similarly arriving in Baccarat glasses and served with a gold-gilded banana leaf, the “Zacapa Gold Fashioned” is a fruit-forward riff on the popular classic cocktail.
Just outside the double doors, a stairwell wends its way to ground level, toward the venue’s spectacular stage and the unfolding events of Broadway’s biggest night.
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