The King Cole Bar in the St. Regis Hotel, is one of the last old school bars in NYC which didn’t let women in until the 1950s. Their claim to fame is that the Bar invented the Bloody Mary (even though Harry’s Bar in Paris may fight them on that one). In 1934, one of their bartenders who just happened to come back from a certain French city…. was asked by a patron to recreate a certain vodka and tomato cocktail that he had tasted while overseas. The formula was then spiced up to include salt, pepper, lemon and worcestershire and voila, the Red Snapper was born — as apparently ‘Bloody Mary’ was deemed too vulgar for the King Cole Bar.
Now as I’m not a Bloody Mary drinker, I opted for another signature cocktail, the $29 King’s Passion featuring champagne and 150 year old Grand Mariner — a bit stiff on all accounts. But I wasn’t really here for the drinks. The main attraction was the Maxfield Parrish ‘Old King Cole’ mural that is displayed behind the bar. Apparently there is a secret behind the mural that if you’re nice, the bartenders will tell you. It’s kind of like one of those 3D paintings that if you stare at it long enough you just might see it. So I’ll leave it for you to discover what’s really behind that mischievous grin, but if you’re like me and have to know….Spoiler Alert below.
Secret of the Mural: John Jacob Astor, who founded The St. Regis in 1906 (and as another trivia fact was the wealthiest passenger on the Titanic — and went down with the ship), had himself painted as the face of King Cole. But not everyone knows that on a dare, Maxfield Parrish painted him in the midst of a fart.
King Cole Bar The St. Regis Hotel, 2 E 55th St. NY 10022 (Midtown)