After More Than a Year, Bemelmans Is Reopening Next Month

Leena Kim
·2 min read
Photo credit: Don Riddle
Photo credit: Don Riddle

Ask a certain subset of New Yorkers where they were in the final hours before Covid-19 shut down the world and a not-so-insignificant number of them will say they were doomsday prepping with martinis at Bemelmans. The legendary Upper East Side boîte, tucked into a corner of the Carlyle Hotel and named for the beloved illustrator and author (and prolific T&C contributor) Ludwig Bemelmans, who painted the bar's famous Central Park murals in exchange for room and board, has been a Manhattan institution since 1947.

Photo credit: Ludwig Bemelmans for T&C
Photo credit: Ludwig Bemelmans for T&C

Like the best kinds of bars—intimate, dimly lit refuges from the outside world—Bemelmans wasn't built for a socially distanced pandemic era, and was forced to close indefinitely on March 16, 2020, when Governor Andrew Cuomo mandated the shutdown of indoor dining. Finally, after more than a year, come May 11 the most sophisticated imbibers will be able to return to their preferred slice of Old New York, to sip on Manhattans and martinis and huddle around tiny tables for hushed gossip. Nightly live music will return, too.

Photo credit: Andrew Moore
Photo credit: Andrew Moore

The team behind Bemelmans took these months of closure as an opportunity to install a few updates. First, Sylvain Delpique, a veteran of the recently shuttered "21" Club joined the Carlyle as executive chef. There will also be a new signature cocktail menu with creations like "Elaine's Smokey Martini" and "Madeline's Vesper." Perhaps the best news of all is that for the first time in its 75-year history, Bemelmans will take reservations on Tock (beginning April 22). And, in a true sign of the bar's embrace of the modern age, it's now on Instagram.

So no more need to attempt DIY martinis, though we can thank Stanley Tucci for tiding us over and teaching us valuable life lessons.

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