What the Critics Say

New York Moves Magazine

Yes the name is supposed to evoke that kind of Madame, and believe me: the plush velvet chaises, lacy red lamps, and dark interiors will get you thinking about sex. It’s like being at the Moulin Rouge sans absinthe, but if you ask the bartender nicely, he’ll surely whip you up a comparable elixir.

Zinc Magazine

X marks the spot

Madame X is our favorite guilty pleasure and one of New York’s well-kept, hidden treasures.

A Sweet Little Bitch and Pussy Galore are available any night of the week at Madame X on West Houston Street. Served over ice and under ten dollars, these selections from the sassy cocktail list are part of the lounge’s enticingly naughty appeal. Drenched in red light and red velvet, Madame X’s sinful atmosphere is in keeping with the space’s checkered past. The upper level was once an early ’90s whorehouse fronted by a nail salon, and the lower level was a reggae music store masking a marijuana dealership.

A luxurious yet quirky spot with a personality all its own, Madame X is full of old world style and hidden surprises. A funny little five-by-five nook with ladder access is so popular that as many as ten people have crammed themselves into it. Owner Amy McCloskey, a former event planner for Playboy magazine, jokes “I don’t know where they put themselves, or if anyone was pregnant afterwards.” Used frequently for private parties, the top floor features a cool atrium overlooking Madame X’s outdoor back garden, sheltered by a leafy canopy and sporting a pretty fountain and ashtrays for New York’s beleaguered smokers.

Open since 1997, Madame X is the brainchild of McCloskey’s late business partner, Mimi Dimur, who set out to create a lounge modeled after a 1920s French bordello. McCloskey and Dimur found the space a wreck in August of 1997, and after a whirlwind few months of cleaning and decorating, opened by the end of the year. The lounge has a laidback vibe, a striking yet model-free staff, an eclectic crowd and DJs spinning a wide range of tunes every Wednesday through Saturday. “We have that velvet-rope feeling without the velvet rope attitude,” says McCloskey. Although the club attracts celebrities – Prince was brought in a couple of years ago by a lady friend who insisted he try the Pussy Galore – “that’s not the crowd we’re going for,” McCloskey says.

Those who like their drinks fruity are in for a real treat. The Sweet Little Bitch has Amaretto, Grand Marnier and pineapple juice, while the Pussy Galore includes Malibu, banana liqueur and mango nectar. Careful, though, ladies: Drink enough Blue Floozies (with Olifant citron vodka, blue curacao and lime) and you might just turn into one.

-Anne Cole

Shecky’s.com (NY Guide)

Everyone looks hot in crimson light and the designers of Madame X’s seem to be well aware of that. This lounge is on fire with red lights, a DJ with the magic touch spinning the latest beats, and a crowd that seems to know they’re in the it spot. Downstairs a large welcoming bar is a perfect place to chat, or head to the back room where the vintage style furniture is reminiscent of grandma’s parlor only much cooler. Need some fresh air? A garden grows on Houston for you and your cronies to get your drink on. Weekend nights means the upstairs is open with even more nooks and crannies to tuck yourself away in and listen to some jazz. Maxwell look alikes, guys sporting Mohawks, and flannel shirt clad kids all nod their heads to neo-soul and hip-hop beats while socking back sexy cocktails like the Orange U Glad U Came or Lick the Peach. Those who like the hard stuff will appreciate the large scotch, tequila and cognac menu. Madame X is a mysterious creature worth visiting.


NY Nightlife Photography Examiner

Open for over a decade, Madame X is a pillar of the neighborhood’s drinking community. The bordello themed bar has long been a destination for its racy decor and sexy drinks. Start the evening with a “Cherry Pop” and by the end of the night you may “Rum, Strip and Go Naked.”

Music lovers come in to hear everything from Funk and Soul to Punk to Latin beats. From Wednesday through Saturday, DJs come in and spin an eclectic mix of songs that you aren’t going to hear at every other bar in town.

Whatever is playing, you can listen in the back, where the lounge is full of plush couches and armchairs. Each of the seating areas is available for reservations for small parties. For larger events, the second floor has another bar and lounge. The space is replete with couches and hidden nooks for cuddling with the one you love or the one your with.

-Clay Williams

Zagat Survey 2000

A bordello-red color scheme (down to “dim lighting” that “makes everyone look good”) and “plush”, “retro” surroundings (“overstuffed couches”, “lots of velvet”) make this intimate, “sexy” Village lounge a “perfect escape”, complete with “diverse music”, rotating art displays and a lovely garden with a waterfall; “fabulous, original cocktails” make it even “easier to relax.”

Time Out New York

Creating a successful bar doen’t always require installing a high-end state of the art sound system or hiring a big name designer: Sometimes it has more to do with finding a good secondhand store. When owners Amy McClosky, Mimi Dimur and Teresa Rovito decided on a bordello like atmosphere for the subterranean Madame X, they hit the city’s flea markets and Salvation Army stores and discovered lots of choice couches and chairs. Dimure re-covered the furniture in plush velvets and completed the space with red lighting and a bar rimmed in red fur. The result is a lounge that allows you to relax, carry on a conversation and even be a bit naughty. “Every time there’s been a crowd here,” laughs McClosky, “there’s always some couple making out in the corner.”

Voices Choices

The newest of the below-ground bars on this block (between Thompson and LaGuardia), Madame X is the reddest, the plushest, and the velvetiest. It’s also got the best cocktails, with special proprietary drinks. Most delectable among these is the Blue Floozy, a martini glass filled with a liquid so blue it’s what antifreeze must look like in smurf land. Made from Olifant Citron vodka, blue curacao, sour mix, and 7-up, the Floozy is simultaneously sweet and tart, and thankfully lacks the cotton-candy stickiness of a Cosmopolitan. For something slightly less sugary, try the Madame X–a bourbon-colored concoction containing house champagne, Bacardi-Limon, cranberry juice, and a splash of grenadine. Arrive early if you want a seat on one of the many sofas and armchairs in the back room.

Manhattan File

“We want to be a comfortable local bar,” says Madame X co-owner Amy McCloskey. So instead of surrounding the joint with velvet ropes, she’s loaded it up with velvet walls, murkey red lights, and a saucy bordello-style interior. The cavernous underground watering-hole has become essential weekend stomping ground since ushering in outdoor-garden seating along with an equally spacious upstairs lounge—two features that suggest why it’s fast become the salon of choice for private parties (like Maxim’s farewell bash for former editor-in-chief Mark Golin) and photo shoots (you’ve seen it in GQ and The Source). The crowd is rangey—everything from older professionals to fresh-faced neighborhood interns, with impromptu celebrity stop-ins including Matt Dillon, Christy Turlington, the Artist, Elisabeth Shue, David Blaine, and Boy George. Live Jazz plays just about every night, adding to the decadent Roaring ’20s ambiance, and you can be sure that you’re less than a step away from intoxication by ordering their most requested cocktail, Sex in the Bathroom…you’ll have to figure out how they came up with the name yourself. And you will.

The Villager

Madame X is a festive spot for pre-or-apres the theater. Drenched in a heady mix of Weimar Republic meets Parisian bordello vintage atmosphere—think romantic couches, heavily fringed lampshades, large-scale oils, Persian rugs, dramatic crimson lighting, humidor, dormer skylight and a charming hidden back patio with a gently gurgling waterfall and wind chimes—Madame X is a favorite of the 25-and-up cognicenti sector. Served by a warm and professional wait staff, the drink list here is equally as exciting as the ambiance.