Tag Archives: famous bars

Harry’s New York Bar

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Every year while in New York, my boyfriend and I make it a point to stop into the Helmsley Park Lane Hotel located on 59th Street.  I love stepping inside the Park Lane’s beautiful lobby with its grand winding staircases, red antique rugs, and twinkling crystal chandeliers.  I don’t know what it is about the Park Lane that I like so much, as it is not the grandest of New York hotels.  Though I do believe it is the friendliest.  Despite once being owned by Leona Helmsley, aka the “Queen of Mean”, the hotel’s lobby is warm and inviting and the staff is extremely friendly.  Walking into the Park Lane feels more like walking into a friend’s home than a hotel.  I just love it!  The hotel was first owned by New York billionaire Harry Helmsley.  When he passed away in 1997, he left his entire $5.5 billion dollar fortune to his wife Leona.  Part of that fortune included the Park Lane Hotel.   After Harry’s death, Leona kept a duplex apartment at the Park Lane and would frequently be seen in the lobby and restaurant.  When Leona died, she left $12 million to her Maltese poodle named Trouble.  After it was made public that the dog was worth a fortune, Trouble started to receive death threats and security (for the dog) had to be hired at a cost of $100,000 per year!  LOL  I am not kidding. 

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 This year, on our last day in New York, I happened to poke my head into Harry’s, the Park Lane Hotel bar, to see if it looked like a cool place to grab a drink.  While poking around I struck up a conversation with a cocktail waitress who told me that the bar is somewhat of a celeb hang out.  So, of course, I dragged my parents and boyfriend back there later that night to grab a drink and do some star stalking.  🙂  Sadly, while stalking Harry’s we did not spot any celebs.  According to our cocktail waitress, though, both John Voight and Keanu Reeves had made an appearance at Harry’s the previous night.  Apparently John Voight is something of a regular and always visits Harry’s when he’s in town.  Unfortunately, as much as I begged her, our waitress couldn’t remember the names of the other celebs who had frequented Harry’s in the past.  New Yorkers crack me up – it seems that none of them really care all that much about celebrities.  LOL 

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Even though we didn’t spot any celebs, Harry’s was still a very cool place to grab a drink and I highly recommend stalking it.  With it’s dark wood paneling and long marble bar, Harry’s definitely evokes a feeling of Old New York and it was the perfect place to spend our last night in the Big Apple.

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: Harry’s New York Bar is located on the second floor of the Helmsley Park Lane Hotel which is situated at 36 Central Park South in New York.

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The Campbell Apartment

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One of my favorite bars in all of New York is called the Campbell Apartment and it is located right inside the most famous train depot of them all, Grand Central Station.  I discovered the bar thanks to a guide book I was reading during my first trip to New York, back in December of 2005.

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The Campbell Apartment was never actually an apartment at all, but rather the business office of millionaire railroad tycoon John William Campbell.  In 1920, after retiring from his position as chairman of Credit Clearing House, Campbell became a member of the board of the New York Public Railroad and decided to find a suitable office for himself close to Grand Central Station.  In 1923, Campbell found his perfect office – a 3,500 square foot single room located right inside Grand Central Station.  The room measured 35 feet wide, 60 feet long, and had 25 foot high ceilings.  Campbell hired New York architect Augustus N. Allen to renovate the large room into his dream Florentine-style office – and no expense was spared in doing so.  The office became a sort of museum, housing a million dollar art collection which consisted of vases, statues, rare books, and antique rugs.  One of those rugs covered the entire floor of the large room and was worth a reported $300,000.  The office featured gorgeous leaded windows, dark wood-paneled walls, a large marble fireplace, 13th Century Italian furnishings, a huge steel safe, a grand piano and a pipe organ.  Besides conducting his business affairs there, Campbell and his wife would often entertain in his office, as well, hosting large groups of friends for dinner, dancing, and cocktails. 

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Those parties perhaps served as the inspiration for Mark Grossich, current owner of the Campbell Apartment.  Mark purchased the space in 1999, 42 years after John Campbell’s death.  In the interim between Campbell’s death and Grossich’s purchase, the once grand space fell into serious disarray, at different times serving as a warehouse, a storage room, and even a jail!  Mark had the foresite to restore the beautiful space to its former glory, hoping that Grand Central commuters of today would step into the grand office of yesterday to sip “cocktails from another era”.  And indeed they did.  Ten years later they are still coming – in droves.  As I learned on my first visit to the Campbell Apartment, most nights it’s standing room only.

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On that first visit back in 2005, I pulled what my boyfriend likes to call my “Sex and the City coup”.  In the Season One episode of SATC  entitled “The Power of Female Sex”, Carrie and the girls are repeatedly denied entrance to hot new New York eatery Balzac.  After their final failed attempt to dine at the eatery, Carrie makes a pit stop at Balzac’s restroom.  While there she runs into the hostess who denied them entry only moments before and who is currently in need of a tampon.  Carrie provides it, and after her good deed, never again has trouble getting a table at Balzac.  🙂  Well, on our first trip to the Campbell Apartment, we put our names in with the hostess and were told it was going to be at least an hour wait.  It was at that point that I noticed the hostess’ sparkling, two carat, princess cut, diamond engagement ring and proceeded to drool all over it.  Ever since I was old enough to know what an engagement ring was, I have known that I want a princess cut one.  I don’t care how big it is, or what “clarity” or “color”, but my boyfriend knows that if he wants me to say yes, he had better be proposing with a princess cut.  🙂  Well, the hostess LOVED that I loved her ring and even let me try the huge rock on.  I was dying, it was so beautiful . . . and big!  Well, not five minutes later we were seated at one of the best spots in the bar.  🙂  As my mom always says, the quickest way to a girl’s heart is to compliment her engagement ring.  🙂

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I am actually very surprised that Campbell Apartment was not featured in an episode of Sex and the City – it seems like just the place Carrie and the girls would kick back a few cosmos.  But the Campbell Apartment was featured in the pilot episode of the ever-popular teen soap Gossip Girl as the location of Serena and Nate’s illicit affair (pictured above).  The bartender told us that the bar was also used in one of this season’s GG episodes, but he was unsure of which one.  I guess he’s not a big Gossip Girl  fan.  🙂  The bar has also been host to many movie wrap parties and industry get-togethers.

I can’t recommend stalking the Campbell Apartment enough!  It is an absolutely fabulous place to grab a drink.  Stepping through the doors is like stepping back in time to a more glamorous and fabulous era – the era of Old New York. 

Until next time, Happy Stalking! 🙂

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Stalk It: The Campbell Apartment is located at 15 Vanderbilt Avenue, inside Grand Central Station, in New York.  Baseball caps and tennis shoes are not permitted, so dress appropriately.  You can visit the Campbell Apartment website here.

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Location Scout-ing!

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While in New York, I just had to take a jaunt over to the real life bar which stood in for Scout, the watering hole owned by Carrie and Miranda’s exes, Steve and Aiden, on Sex and the City.  The bar first showed up in the Season Four episode entitled “Ghost Town”, in which Miranda and Carrie are forced to face the ghosts of their relationships past at the grand opening of their exes’ new bar.  Scout (real name Onieal’s Grand Street) showed up quite a few times during Sex and the City’s  run, most notably during Season Four.

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Although I didn’t have a chance to step inside and grab a cocktail at Onieal’s on this trip – as I have said before there was just so much to stalk and so little time – from looking at the interior photographs of the restaurant online, I am guessing that producers chose to use the bar because of its rich mahogany interior.  In SATC, Carrie’s furniture-maker ex-boyfriend Aidan was supposed to have built the entire interior of the bar by hand, and Onieal’s hand carved ceiling (which was flown in from Venice many years ago) and wood-paneled walls fit in perfectly with that idea.

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I found this location thanks to fave stalking book New York: The Movie Lover’s Guide, but Onieal’s is also featured in a fabulous book that I purchased for my boyfriend this past Christmas called The Histories and Stories of the Best Bars of New York.  The chapter on Onieal’s chronicles its sordid history as a speakeasy, a brothel, and a gambling establishment.  Owner Chris Onieal opened up the bar in 1995 on the corner of Grand Street and Centre Market Place, in a space that has housed a bar of one type or another since 1875.  The most notorious bar that stood on that spot was named the Press Room and it was located directly across the street from NYPD headquarters.  During prohibition a tunnel was dug connecting the bar to the police department so that New York’s finest had easy (and secret) access to a watering hole.

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Interestingly enough, in the SATC  episode entitled “Ghost Town”, Carrie brings Aidan a mulberry bush as a bar-warming gift.  She says “Because your new bar is located on Mulberry Street.”  Well, that’s not exactly true.  Onieal’s Grand Street is located on Grand Street, as the name suggests, in between Mulberry Street and Centre Market Place, but on the Centre Market Place side.  Mulberry Street is actually a full block down from Onieal’s entrance.  In the above screen capture, you can see that they even went so far as to put up a street sign saying “Mulberry” outside of the bar.  LOL 

Even though I didn’t have a chance to grab a cocktail at Onieal’s, it is definitely high up on my list of things to do next year.  It looks like a very cool place to spend an evening and I highly recommend stalking it.  🙂

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: Scout aka Onieal’s Grand Street Bar is located at 174 Grand Street in SoHo.  You can visit their website here.

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“And Your 40s Are To Pay For the Drinks!”

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Another day, another SATC  location.  🙂  One of the must-see locales of my NYC stalking vacation was the bar where Carrie Bradshaw and her personal assistant, Louise, drank Bellini’s and commiserated over their broken hearts in Sex and the City: The Movie.  The bar used in the film is called Bemelman’s and it is located inside the famed Carlyle Hotel on New York’s Upper East Side.  According to fave book Sex and the City: The Movie, the SJP flick was the very first production ever allowed to film inside the legendary bar.    It is at Bemelman’s that Carrie gives Louise this sage piece of advice: “Enjoy yourself – that’s what your 20s are for.  Your 30s are to learn the lessons.  And your 40s are to pay for the drinks!”  🙂  Love it!  🙂

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Bemelman’s is named after the creator, illustrator, and author of the popular Madeline children’s book series, Ludwig Bemelman, whose murals adorn the bar’s many walls.  Over fifty years ago, the Carlyle Hotel commisioned Bemelman to paint large scenes of animals frolicking in Central Park on the walls of their lobby bar.  Instead of being paid for this feat, Bemelman and his family were given free room and board at the luxury hotel for a year and a half.   Not a bad deal!  🙂 Bemelman’s Bar has long been a favorite of both celebrities and native New Yorkers alike.   In fact, SJP is a longtime fan of the Carlyle in general.   She spent many an evening at Cafe Carlyle, the hotel’s cabaret restaurant, while dating then-boyfriend Matthew Broderick.  In fact, the two even spent their honeymoon at the Carlyle.  🙂  Currently Bemelman’s is a favorite stomping ground of Suri Cruise, who regularly attends the Saturday children’s tea with her famous mom. 

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Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to grab a cocktail in Bemelman’s during this New York vacay – so many places to stalk, so little time.  😦  But I did pop my head in for a little looksie.  The cocktail waitress even let me take some pics at the bar area, even though photographs are typically not allowed.  From what I saw in the few minutes I was there, Bemelman’s looks like a very cool place to grab a drink and it’s easy to see why producers chose it for a little SATC  filming.  The bar is dark, intimate, cozy, and so very New York.  It even features a 24-carat gold leaf ceiling – I’m not kidding!   And to commemorate the filming that took place there in late 2007, Bemelman’s even named a drink after SATC’s  leading lady.  “The Bradshaw” is a mixture of Don Julio Blanco tequila, lime juice, cane sugar simple syrup, and X-Rated Passion Fruit Liquor.  The drink is, of course, pink and  is served in a martini glass dusted with pink sugar.  Love it!

Until next time, Happy Stalking! 🙂

Stalk It: Bemelman’s Bar is located at 35 East 76th Street, inside the famed Carlyle Hotel.

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