Ludwig Bemelmans, the author and illustrator of the popular “Madeline” books for children, painted the 1940s Central Park scenes on the walls and lampshades of this iconic upper east side, upper-crust New York hotel bar. The artist’s charmingly loopy style creates the perfect vibe for getting a cheery buzz from the bar’s impeccably mixed and served cocktails. And the red-jacketed barmen could be Bemelmans storybook characters themselves, come to life.
The soft colors of the murals and the 24-carat gilded ceiling create the overall effect of a glowing treasure chest where the magic and charm of the city is exquisitely preserved. The bar (and famous Café Carlyle across the hall) is one of the few places that still maintains a dress code, encouraging patrons to look their finest. Indeed, the “after-work” crowd looks as though they have stepped out of the pages of GQ and Vogue. Jazz and American songbook standards are performed nightly by the likes of Billy Stritch, Bob Mosci and the Loston Harris Trio.
The Hotel Carlyle was one of the first – and still one of the finest – residential hotels in New York. John and Jackie Kennedy, Mick Jagger, Truman Capote and Princess Diana all have called the Carlyle their home while in the city. The hotel is one of the few places in New York City that never seems to change, thank goodness.
All of the Laziz Hamani cocktail photographs in the gorgeous mixology paean, Vintage Cocktails (Assouline 2009), were taken in Bemelmans Bar.
Composer Earl Rose tickles the ivories and chats about the joy of entertaining at Bemelmans Bar in this behind-the-scenes video:
35 East 76th Street, New York, NY 10021