No matter how successfully he works with others, a man must go it alone to truly prove himself -- sure, Paul Simon did the singing, songwriting, and guitar playing, but without ditching Garfunkel, how would he ever know if he could handle "vocal arrangement"? Now flying solo through the nightlife world, the owner of Public, opening tonight. From royal-friendly Guy Pelly, whose management skills led to the runaway success of both Mahiki and Whiskey Mist, Public's housed in a vast, high-ceiling'd underground space lent NY industrial chicness by exposed brickwork, steel support pillars, dark red-leather banquettes, and a sprawling copper-topped bar, because they're very serious about preventing underage drinking/bank robberies. Some of the more outlandish features: a ride-able merry-go-round horse on the dance floor, a whimsical dress-up room (where guests are invited to don wigs, top hats, etc.), an internal smoking area with an actual goldfish pond, and a private-bar-equipped VIP set up like a sweet shop -- though sadly, wine gums still won't do the trick. Alongside sometimes-tweaked classics (cherry-infused whiskey sours, zombies in take-home tiki mugs), they'll be slinging creations from the vodka, elderflower, pomegranate & pineapple "S.O.B. 2010", to the tankard-served apple brandy, lemon, Curacao & cider "Very English Punch", named for Frank Bruno's habit of apologizing immediately after every one he ever landed. The boozy centerpiece is a list of bewilderingly elaborate sharing drinks, like a marble-activated, Mousetrap-style Jager Bomb machine, and the vodka/ pear/ apple Champagne Warhead, which comes in a nuclear-style lockbox that can only be opened with a code delivered by your waitress, and's meant to serve 10 -- try going that alone, and you'll think you're Homeward Bound, only to wake up At the Zoo.