For as long as any millennial or zoomer can remember, axe throwing, trivia, and shuffleboard have been the go-to activities for the subset of New York nightlife venues that might best be called “competition bars.” Now, a new entrant in this increasingly crowded field has appeared on the southern tip of Manhattan: Lawn Club, a 15,000-square-foot, Astroturfed indoor park devoted to any kind of game you might play in a suburban yard. That means patrons can, for $75 per hour, choose among bocce, cornhole, and the tailgating standby beersbee (for the uninitiated: You try to knock a bottle off a pole with a Frisbee). Booking the secluded rear court, however, grants access to the most superior lawn-and-drinking game: croquet.
Perhaps I’m biased, having attended a small college where it was our top sport, but it was easy for me to assemble a party of eight eager to try out the lawn, with three national collegiate champions among us. The verdict: Lawn Club’s owners clearly know their Sunshiny CQ16s from their Dawson 2000s, as all of the equipment on hand meets regulation standards, even if the green itself is smaller than the standard nine-wicket setup — a concession to building a court inside the Seaport. Every group is assigned a Lawncierge (easily spotted in their green tracksuits) to maintain order. After helping set up, ours kept track of play, gently enforcing rules when necessary. Without their help, we may never have had a winner in the two hours we had the court booked.
In my experience, croquet is mostly about consuming 30-racks of National Bohemian beer, but Lawn Club’s drinks lean more toward country-club Wasp favorites: multiple G-and-Ts, a riff on a Pimm’s cup fortified with Japanese gin and blood orange, and a surprisingly pleasant bull shot — vodka, beef broth, and a bracing amount of Tabasco, garnished with a pepper-crusted lemon wedge. My group liked it so much we ordered a second round.
Food is as good as it needs to be, with an emphasis on bar classics like smash burgers (served quartered and speared with toothpicks for easy sharing), pigs in a blanket, and various-size piles of wings to nibble while watching a game on one of the 24 televisions scattered around the space.
Late fall may seem a strange time to unveil a business devoted to summer sports, but it’s tailor-made for holiday-party buyouts. Management says tournaments and leagues are on the way next year (“elaborate” trophies are being designed and cast). For now, the Club is open Wednesday to Sunday, so there are plenty of chances to practice.
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