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Friday, May 22, 2020


Famed Bemelmans Bar reopens June 1 to continue its place at the top of Manhattan's cafe society.
GUEST BLOG / By CNN Business--There's a quintessential New York elegance about Bemelmans Bar, located inside the Carlyle Hotel on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

Inside the tony Carlyle Hotel on the Upper East Side of Manhattan is the whimsically elegant Bemelmans.

Since opening in 1947, the bar has hosted scores of the greatest jazz pianists, playing standards and contemporary pieces while patrons sip pricey cocktails.

The room is adorned with murals by famed children's book author and illustrator, Ludwig Bemelmans, who is best known for his "Madeleine" kids' book series -- and, of course, being the bar's namesake and, of course, that's Madeleine at the left of the nun.

Bemelmans' murals, which were commissioned in the 1940s, depict the four seasons of nearby Central Park. There's a quintessential New York elegance about the room, tables and banquettes surround a grand piano. Off to the side you'll find a black granite bar and above you, a 24-karat gold leaf ceiling.

For the little ones and their grown-ups, the bar hosts a Madeleine Tea every Saturday in Nov. & Dec.

In the evenings the bartenders are dressed to the nines, the drinks are expertly mixed and deferentially presented.

Yes, the namesake murals by Ludwig Bemelmans give the cultural phenomenon an air of whimsy,  But Bemelemans, the bar, is not silly.  It is more formal--call it seriously sophisticated, where no TVs interrupt face-to-face conversations.  No besotted lounge lizards need enter the premises.

The white table linens are thick (no paper cocktail napkins here) and the patrons have come to imbibe and celebrate. The air is full of music and memories of a time when New York City was synonymous with glamour and sophistication and it felt like the center of the universe. At Bemelmans, come June 1, 2020, it still is.

Bemelmans Bar, 35 E 76th St, New York, NY 10021, +1(212)744-1600

Waiters cleaning up after a new years party; the waiter with both hands on the table looks very much like Mr. Bemelmans. Published Jan. 3, 1953.

Bemelmans murals [painted 1947]
depict four seasons in Central Park,
a caprice of frolicking bunnies,
snakes in hats, sheep filled meadows
and monkey who peer in at caged bankers.


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