Why You Must Visit The King Cole Bar In New York City

The King Cole Bar, tucked away in the iconic St. Regis Hotel, is more than just a bar - it's a piece of New York City history.
June 2, 2023

The King Cole Bar, tucked away in the iconic St. Regis Hotel, is more than just a bar – it’s a piece of New York City history. The bar is famous for its rich history, exclusive drinks, and an aura of elegance. Its most unique feature, the Maxfield Parrish mural, known as the King Cole mural, adds a touch of artistic grandeur to the space, making it a must-visit destination. This article will explore the bar’s history, ambiance, special features, and signature cocktails.

A Glimpse Into History: The St. Regis Hotel

The King Cole Bar is housed within the prestigious St. Regis Hotel in New York. Founded by John Jacob Astor IV in 1904, the St. Regis is a beacon of luxury and sophistication. It has long been a favorite haunt of celebrities, royalty, and luminaries from around the world.

The history of the St. Regis New York is a tale of opulence and innovation. It was among the first hotels to provide central heating, telephones, and a radio in every room, setting the standard for luxury accommodation. Today, it stands as a testament to timeless elegance and modern comfort.

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The Heart of The Bar: The Maxfield Parrish King Cole Mural

The centerpiece of the King Cole Bar is undoubtedly the Maxfield Parrish mural. Painted by the renowned artist in 1906, the mural depicts an enigmatic scene from the nursery rhyme, “Old King Cole.” The mural, with its vibrant colors and intricate details, provides a captivating backdrop for patrons as they sip their drinks and converse.

The mural’s journey mirrors that of the bar itself. Originally commissioned for the Knickerbocker Hotel, the mural was moved to the St. Regis during the Prohibition era and has remained there ever since. Over the years, it has been meticulously maintained and restored, preserving its original beauty and charm.

A Taste of Luxury: Table 55

For a truly exclusive experience, reserve Table 55. This is the King Cole Bar’s most coveted table, offering an intimate dining experience unlike any other. Overlooking the grand Astor Court and ensconced in the timeless ambiance of the bar, Table 55 offers privacy and a bespoke menu. This unique experience is only available to one party per evening, making it one of the most exclusive dining reservations in the city.

The Signature Drinks: The Bloody Mary and The Red Snapper

The King Cole Bar is legendary not only for its ambiance and history but also for its innovative cocktails. The bar is credited with introducing the Bloody Mary, known as the Red Snapper, to the United States.

Fernand Petiot, a bartender at the King Cole Bar, is said to have crafted the first American version of the Bloody Mary in the 1930s. However, to suit the tastes of the bar’s sophisticated clientele, the drink was renamed the Red Snapper. Today, this classic cocktail remains a signature drink of the bar, a testament to the innovation and creativity that the King Cole Bar embodies.

Final Thoughts: Why The King Cole Bar is A Must-Visit

The King Cole Bar offers more than just a drink – it offers an experience. As you sit beneath the Maxfield Parrish mural, sipping a Red Snapper at Table 55, you are partaking in a piece of New York City’s history. The bar’s elegance, sophistication, and sense of history make it a must-visit for locals and tourists alike.

Whether you’re a fan of art, a cocktail enthusiast, or simply a lover of luxury, the King Cole Bar is a destination that promises a memorable experience.

The Ambiance: A Blend of Luxury and Comfort

One of the key elements that make the King Cole Bar a must-visit is its amazing atmosphere. The ambiance is chic and somewhat subdued, offering comfortable seating and delectable bar snacks. Few bars offer complimentary snacks anymore, but the King Cole does, and they do it exceptionally well.

The King Cole Bar has often been lauded as one of the most beautiful bars in town, if not the world. Its grandeur is reflected in its opulent décor and the exquisite Maxfield Parrish mural that adorns the bar wall. The mural adds a sense of nostalgia to the ambiance, making you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

As you walk into the bar, you immediately feel its sophistication. Although it caters to an adult crowd and does not permit minors after 5 p.m., it maintains an atmosphere that is both upscale and inviting. The bar does not accept reservations, so it’s a place where spontaneous moments can occur. This balance between exclusivity and accessibility is part of its charm.

The dress code at the King Cole Bar is business casual. Although it’s not uncommon to see patrons in black-tie attire, you’ll also find people dressed casually. So, whether you’re stopping by after a business meeting or just looking to enjoy a relaxed evening, you’ll fit right in.

The King Cole Bar Experience: Luxury That Comes at a Price

Visiting the King Cole Bar is indeed a special occasion, and it comes with a price tag that matches its exclusivity. Specialty cocktails cost around $24, the signature Bloody Mary cocktails are priced at $25, beers start around $10, and glasses of wine begin at $16. Despite being a “one-drink kind of place,” the experience you get from sipping and savoring your drink, absorbing the history, and reveling in the ambiance justifies the cost.

While the bar is undeniably upscale, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. In fact, the King Cole Bar encourages its patrons to let loose and savor every minute of their experience. As you sip your drink and take in the history that has unfolded in the room over the years, you’re sure to enjoy every moment of your time at this slice of Old New York.

The Specialty Cocktails: A Drink for Every Palate

In addition to the Red Snapper, the King Cole Bar offers a range of specialty cocktails. Whether you’re a fan of gin, tequila, or bourbon, there’s a cocktail for you.

If gin is your preferred spirit, consider trying the “Old King Cole,” a mix of Tanqueray, Martini Rosso Vermouth, Nonino Amaro, and Orange Burnt Orange Peel. For tequila lovers, the “Madison Avenue,” made with Patron Silver, fresh lime, blood orange soda, and a pinch of salt, is a delightful choice. If you’re a fan of bourbon, the “Midtown Spice,” a concoction of Bulleit Bourbon, apple liqueur, Canton ginger, Angostura bitters, and Maraschino cherry, might catch your fancy.

Each of these cocktails, crafted with precision and care, adds to the allure of the King Cole Bar. Enjoying these drinks while soaking in the bar’s rich history and elegant surroundings is an experience that’s worth every penny.

In conclusion, the King Cole Bar is more than just a bar—it’s a symbol of New York’s historical charm and contemporary luxury. From the stunning Maxfield Parrish mural to the exclusive Table 55.

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