10 NYC Bars Where You Can Admire Famous Art While You Drink

society of illustrators bar

Photo: Untapped Cities

This post originally appeared at Untapped Cities.At Untapped New York, we’re dedicated to bringing you the best of New York’s cultural life and nightlife.

Previously, we shared our picks for the best hidden bars in the City.

Now we’re bringing your our list of the Top 10 Bars where artists have left their mark, from Upper East Side institutions like Bemelmans Bar and the King Cole Bar in the St. Regis to the trendy Ace Hotel, with a collage by street artist Michael Anderson.

Though a couple of cocktails at some of these bars might be a bit of a splurge, we think it’s worth it for the chance to soak up the atmosphere in these one-of-a-kind places.

After all, you won’t find these works of art anywhere else in the world.

Bemelmans Bar

In exchange for one and a half years of room and board for himself and his family, Ludwig Bemelmans painted the walls at the Hotel Carlyle Bar in 1947.

As a result, the bar was renamed Bemelmans Bar.

The murals depict Central Park throughout the seasons with a cameo by Madeline.

Bemelmans Bar is located at 35 East 76th Street in the Hotel Carlyle.

The bar has an entertainment calendar that is worth checking out, including performances by Woody Allen & The Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band (yes, that Woody Allen).

Alternatively, if you have children, or for the child in you, perhaps the bar's Madeline's Buffet is more appropriate.

Whether you are going to Bemelmans Bar to see jazz or to have a cocktail, you will be rewarded with Ludwig Bemelman's only public work of art.

Murals on 54

The Leopard at Des Artistes

King Cole Bar

The King Cole Bar, located in the elegant St. Regis Hotel, is famous for its namesake mural and for being the birthplace of the Bloody Mary cocktail.

The mural, painted by illustrator Maxfield Parrish, was originally commissioned by John Jacob Astor IV in 1909 for his Knickerbocker Hotel.

Parrish was reluctant to paint the mural due to his Quaker upbringing but ultimately agreed for the sum of $5,000.

Old King Cole is thought to have been modelled on Astor, but there does not appear to be any resemblance between the two.

Society of Illustrators

The Society of Illustrators is located at 128 East 63rd Street in an 1875 carriage house built for William P. Read, J. P. Morgan's personal secretary.

The dining room is located in the Hall of Fame gallery, on the building's third floor. Situated behind the bar is Norman Rockwell's Dover Coach, which was gifted to the Society by the illustrator himself.

Its location is fitting because in 1959, Rockwell became the first member to be elected to the Hall of Fame.

Untapped went behind the scenes at the Society of Illustrators.

Brasserie Pushkin


Ace Hotel

Street artist Michael Anderson was commissioned in 2009 to create a collage for the Ace Hotel made from his collection of graffiti stickers (unofficially considered the world's largest collection, according to NY Mag.)

Anderson had been collecting the stickers, which he would peel off subway entrances, lampposts, walls and other public places and keep in a notebook, since the early '90s.

His collage in the trendy Ace Hotel shows what art has become. The hotel offers plenty of dining and drinking options from Portland-born Stumptown Coffee to The Breslin, the Michelin-starred restaurant and lobby bar with DJs spinning Monday through Friday and live music on Sundays.

The Oak Room and Oak Bar

The Oak Room is located in the Plaza Hotel at Grand Army Plaza in Manhattan.

It opened in 1907 as a men's bar, designed by Henry Hardenbergh.

The bar closed during Prohibition and re-opened in 1934 as a full service restaurant. It has been closed a few times since, including for a restoration and management dispute.

The Oak Room's historic detailed wood-paneling and barrel-vaulting still grace its walls and ceiling in addition to three carved niches with murals of German feudal castles that fill its arches.

The adjoining Oak Bar was established in 1945 as a money-making venture when the hotel was acquired by Conrad Hilton. The space was formerly occupied by a brokerage firm and a bar.

The bar possesses three murals painted by Everett Shinn, which were commissioned for the bar.

The mural on the western wall depicts Central Park South as viewed from Columbus Circle circa 1908, a mural of the Pulitzer Fountain graces the bar, and the mural on the eastern wall shows Grand Army Plaza with the former Vanderbilt Mansion.

Marie's Crisis

Located at 59 Grove Street, Marie's Crisis is housed in an 1839 building.

Its name is derived from Thomas Paine's essay, The American Crisis, since Paine died on the site in 1809, and from Romany Marie, who was the proprietor of several tearooms in Greenwich Village at the turn of the century.

Today, Marie's Crisis is a piano bar where a show tune is never far away and a former haunt of Eugene O'Neill and Edward VIII.

The ambiance is aided by a WPA mural, whose origins are unknown.

The mural behind the bar depicts the French and American revolutions and another mural entitled La Convention depicts Robespeirre, Danton, and Paine.

Want to uncover some more cool finds?

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