New York, NEW YORK
Upper East Side Elegance As soon as you step inside, Bemelmans Bar, located in the luxurious Carlyle Hotel on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, you are transported to another era, with its old-school charm and decor that exudes classic sophistication. The atmosphere at Bemelmans is cozy and intimate, with dim lighting, plush leather banquettes, and live music from talented pianists. The bar is named after the famed children's book author and illustrator, Ludwig Bemelmans, who created the whimsical murals adorning the walls of the bar. The murals, which Bemelman painted in exchange for lodging at the Carlyle, depict scenes from his Madeline series of books, and are truly a work of art. From the beautiful hand-painted wallpaper to the little red drink napkins matching the bartenders' jackets, every detail contributes to the overall ambiance. The staff's friendliness and knowledge ensure every guest receives the attention and care they deserve, creating a luxurious and intimate atmosphere that leaves patrons feeling like VIPs.
Bemelmans' Bar Menu
If you manage to get in, Bemelmans' extensive bar menu offers high end liquors and cocktails to enjoy. A visit to this iconic establishment is a premium experience, reflected in the price of their finely crafted cocktails. Yet, the strength of these libations underscores their quality and justifies their value.
Our recommendations are Bobby's Manhattan (you're in Manhattan after all) made with Santa Teresa 1796 Rm and Carpano Antica or any of the six Bemelmans custom martinis - our favorite is the Japanese-inspired Elaine's Smokey Martini made with Ki No Bi Gin, BenRiach 12yr Single Malt, and Noilly Prat vermouth.
Their food menu presents a carefully curated selection of shared plates, each with its unique allure. Experience luxury with their Kaviari Caviar Oscietre Prestige and Gold served with traditional condiments, buckwheat blinis, and lemon crème fraiche. Indulge in the tender Prime Aged Beef Sliders topped with onion marmalade and raclette cheese, or savor the exotic tastes of their Homemade Pigs in a Blanket, accompanied by a spicy brown mustard and Andouille sausage.
From Mini Lobster Tacos with pickled jalapeno aioli to a guacamole blend that bursts with the fresh flavors of Maryland crab and yuzu, every dish is an invitation to delight in the finer things in life. And for those with a penchant for cheese, Bemelmans offers an elegant cheese plate featuring a variety of premium selections, including Bijou, Project X, Stockinghall Cheddar, and Bridgman Blue.
Worth the Wait and Price of Admission
This is not a standing-room-only bar. Every guest is seated by the bar manager, ensuring the comfort and personal space of all present. To add a touch of exclusivity, hotel guests can skip the queue with a privileged card provided at check-in, further enhancing the bar's reputation for its meticulous attention to detail. There's a cover charge of $10 per person when the pianist begins playing at 5:30 p.m., with additional charges for the jazz trio, dependent on the artist. But, for what awaits, it's a worthy price. Ultimately, a visit to Bemelmans Bar, where "gawking is permissible," and the whimsical illustrations of Ludwig Bemelmans grace the walls, is more than a drinking experience. It's a journey into the heart of the Upper East Side's history and culture, an unforgettable encounter with a slice of Manhattan that's both enchanting and delightfully "lurid". Whether you're there for a single drink or a lavish evening, this iconic establishment is sure to etch itself indelibly in your memory.