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As many of my friends know I enjoy a well crafted cocktail. I myself, am not the most talented barman but I do appreciate the work that goes into making a great concoction for consumption. I think my favorite cocktail in the world is a proper martini. I should not have to, but I will clarify that when I say martini I mean a gin martini. It is a simple cocktail as it only has three ingredients: gin, dry vermouth, and a garnish of a single olive. Even the most simple cocktails can be difficult to make right and I tend to judge a cocktail bar on how they make their martini. But I digress; let’s just say I love martinis and when Ash and I were in New York all I wanted was a proper martini at a classic New York bar. I found a damn good martini, to say the least, at Bemelmans Bar and a surprise from my childhood. Welcome to the latest Sunday Wine Down all about a bar with a friend from the past.
Ashley and I had some time to kill before we were going to enjoy the musical “An American in Paris”. Instead of having to wait in the long lines at the play house for a drink we figured we might as well have a few before hand. We hopped in a taxi and were on our way to The Carlyle in the upper east side. I am not sure why but I enjoy riding in a taxi. There is a romance when taking a taxi in my opinion. There is just something about the high rises towering over me as I look through a framed view of reality watching the chaos of the outside world and I am separated from it all. It is as if I took a step back to truly see the world. Needless to say I like taking taxis and I feel when you’re in New York you should always take at least one taxi ride through the city.
We arrived in front of The Carlyle and paid our taxi. We stood in front of this upper east side landmark. This is not just a hotel; this is a hotel that rings with class, a hotel that you feel like you need to wear a suit jacket just to walk into it. I like these old hotels; I enjoy the class and respect that comes with them. Even though I could never afford a room here there is just something special about a place with class and when I walk in I feel like I’m at the center of attention.
We are not here to talk about The Carlyle, however. The real jewel in this place is the piano bar, Bemelmans. It is an old school bar and I feel as if I was transported back in time. Ashley and I arrived and grabbed a couple of seats at the far end of the bar. We order two martinis and spent our time staring at the walls of the place. The paintings on the wall are what make this bar special. The famous artist and writer, Ludwig Bemelmans who created the famous child’s book Madeline, is responsible for all the art on the walls of the bar. To refresh your memory Madeline is the very curious and sweet little redheaded child who goes to boarding school. She wore a blue dress with the yellow hat and red ribbon. I remember growing up and watching the cartoon when I was really young. Mr. Bemelmans was a very creative man with a huge imagination. He covered the bar’s walls with scenes of Central Park with folks enjoying their day, picnicking rabbits, elephants ice skating and many other activities including the the original group of twelve little school girls in two lines with Madeline of course being the smallest. I spent most of my time just staring at all the wonderful illustrations on the wall. This man had an unbelievable talent with whimsical illustrations that just puts a smile on your face.
So why did this artist paint the walls of this bar? He did not receive any money for it. He did it in exchange for The Carlyle allowing his family and him to stay for a year and half. He was able live in luxury while he painted the bar’s walls with his imagination. He was not a nobody when he did this. He was well known for his drawings in children’s books and he was an artist for the New York Times, Vogue, and Town and Country. His name already carried some weight behind it.
Sipping on a perfectly made martini, listening to the delightful murmur of the other bar patrons, plus enjoying all the little drawn scenes on the wall in front of me, I thought to myself that “Man, could this get any better?” Then from behind me came a delightful sound of music. I turned around and saw a very well dressed man at the piano moving his fingers gracefully along the keys. It was jazz and I did not want to leave. Bartender, another martini please!
This is a bar that I believe everybody should take a moment out of their day and go and enjoy. The wonderful art deco style, matched with Bemelmans’ art goes nicely with nightly live music and a great martini or any other cocktail of choice. It will now be a regular stop for me when I go to New York. It really is hard not to have a nice evening here. For more information just make sure you go to their website for opening hours and other details.
That is the end of this week Sunday Wine Down, and I hope you enjoyed learning a little about one of our favorite bars in New York. If you have any experience with this bar please tell us in the comments below. If you also have other bars in the city you think we should check out the next time we are in town let us know in the comments. Also if you enjoyed my post please like and share. Thank you very much for reading and hope you continue to follow In Pursuit of Adventure. Like always, go out, travel and change the world.
For nostalgic sake