Hop Sing Laundromat — the Chinatown cocktail bar perhaps known as much for its top-shelf drinks as for the antics of its owner, who goes simply by Lê — marked its sixth anniversary Wednesday by scaling back from five to three nights a week, Thursday to Saturday, starting at 5 p.m.
"Because I can," said Lê, who prides himself on banning customers who violate the bar's sundry rules of conduct as well as calling out errant Yelpers and journalists.
The bar, candlelit and white-tableclothed — off-limits to smart phones — marked the anniversary with a cocktail party attended by literati and regulars, including Councilman Allan Domb, chefs Georges Perrier, Marc Vetri, Chip Roman, and Robert Bennett, restaurateurs Francis Cratil Cretarola and Cathy Lee, and Jill Weber and Evan Malone, and Fox contributor Erin Elmore and husband Craig Spitzer. (Vetri promptly and cheekily defied convention by posting a photo of himself, Perrier, and Roman on social media.)
Lê said his parents were getting older and now he would become their designated driver. Then, in a serious moment, he said he was creating another business and frankly wanted to give himself and his staff a break.
An inveterate control freak who ripped the entire barroom apart when it was nearly completed — only to reverse its layout — Lê is the sole keeper of the keys, a grueling schedule.
"Better socialist lifestyles" is how he described another goal, lapsing into his shtick that he is a North Korean agent and that HSL is the world's greatest North Korean cocktail bar. (In fact, he is Vietnamese.)