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9 Classic New York Bars

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From the sophisticated Four Seasons to casual Old Town Bar and Grill, there is a classic New York City bar that will appeal to just about everyone.

1. Bemelmans Bar

the beautifully lit bar at Bemelman's Bar in The Carlyle Hotel
arvindgrover/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
Named after Ludwig Bemelmans, who created the Madeline books and painted the bar's famous murals, Bemelmans Bar is one of New York City's classic piano bars. The gold leaf-covered ceiling and black granite bar combine to create an elegant environment for sampling classic cocktails. Live entertaiment Tues - Sat from 5:30 - 8:30 p.m. & 9:30 - 12:30 p.m.
  • Address: Carlyle Hotel, 35 E. 76th St. (at Madison)
  • Telephone: 212-744-1600
  • Hours: noon - 2 a.m. (12:30 p.m. on Sundays)
  • Dress Code: business casual

2. The Bar at Bull & Bear

Best known for its beautiful mahogany bar, the Waldorf=Astoria's Bull & Bear is also credited with creating the Robb Roy and the Bronx Cocktail. The Bull & Bear keeps investment bankers and financial types comfortable with a stock-market ticker and tables the color of money.
  • Address: 301 Park Avenue
  • Phone: 212-872-4900
  • Dress Code: business casual

3. Campbell Apartment

Formerly the private office of John W. Campbell, chairman of the Credit Clearing House, the Campbell Apartment now transports patrons to the 1920s and 30s with classic cocktails and sophisticated ambiance. The signature cocktail, Prohibition Punch, is worth a try despite its $15 pricetag.
  • Address: 15 Vanderbilt Avenue (inside Grand Central Terminal)
  • Phone: 212-212-953-0409
  • Dress Code: business casual, no sneakers

4. The Four Seasons

As the sun sets, you can truly appreciate the bronze Richard Lippold sculpture above the square wooden bar. First opened in 1959, The Four Seasons is the only Manhattan restaurant designated as an architectural landmark.
  • Address: 99 East 52nd Street
  • Phone: 212-989-9038
  • Dress Code: business casual

5. King Cole Bar

Located in the St. Regis Hotel, the King Cole Bar is popular with guests and non-guests alike. The Red Snapper (better known as a Bloody Mary) was invented here, amidst the Maxfield Parrish mural depicting Old King Cole.
  • Address: 2 East 55th Street at the St. Regis Hotel
  • Phone: 212-753-4500
  • Dress Code: business casual, no sneakers after 5 p.m.

6. The Oak Bar at The Plaza

Impressionist murals by Everett Shinn depict New York City scenes on the walls, but the classic cocktails and oak panels stand out at this classic New York drinking establishment. Featured in the opening scenes of North by Northwest, the Oak Bar has been an important meeting place since it opened in 1907.
  • Address: 768 Fifth Avenue at the Plaza Hotel
  • Phone: 212-546-5320
  • Dress Code: business casual, no shorts, sneakers or sandals after 5 p.m.

7. Old Town Bar & Grill

First opened in 1892, Old Town Bar & Grill retains its classic charm with pressed tin ceilings and the oldest operating dumbwaiter in New York City. Featured in many TV shows and movies, including the opening credits of David Letterman during his NBC days, Old Town Bar is a casual place to enjoy beers and burgers. Men should be sure to check out the first floor bathroom, for with its impressive fixtures.
  • Address: 45 East 18th Street
  • Phone: 212-529-6732
  • Dress Code: casual

8. Pete's Tavern

The longest continually operating bar in New Yorkk City, Pete's Tavern opened in 1864 and remained open throughout Prohibition, disguised as a flower shop. In 1904, O. Henry wrote much of Gift of the Magi in one of his favorite booths by the front doors. This classic bar serves a full menu at reasonable prices, including nightly specials.
  • Address: 129 East 18th Street
  • Phone: 212-473-7676
  • Dress Code: casual

9. White Horse Tavern

One of the few wood framed buildings remaining in New York City, the White Horse Tavern opened in 1880. Famous patrons include Dylan Thomas, who is rumored to have drank himself to death in 1953, Jack Kerouac, and Bob Dylan.
  • Address: 567 Hudson Street
  • Phone: 212-243-9260
  • Dress Code: casual

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