I was a bit skeptical when I found out New York’s illustrious 21 Club (www.21club.com) would be unveiling Bar ’21’ on September 15th. As someone smitten with historic glamour, I feared that this restaurant’s rich past – as a Prohibition-era sanctuary with the most coveted wine cellar in town, as a scene stealer in Sweet Smell of Success – might fade with the addition of a bar dispensing signature Brooklyn Brewery lager on draft.
But when I saw what Beyer Blinder Belle Architecture & Planners LLP, the same firm that has lent its design savvy to the likes of Princeton University and the restoration of the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem, had done with the space, I didn’t need to worry.
The windows, now more open and welcoming, allow passersby to peer in and shed the image that 21 is the exclusive domain of old boys swilling Dry Martinis. While the 10-stool black granite bar, where you can idle with pretzel bites dunked in jalapeno-cheddar sauce, is decidedly modern, the antique mirror, damask carpet, and pine paneling ensure the new bar and lounge stays true to 21’s elegant roots.
Traditionalists need not fret about 21’s casual new chapter – after all, gents are still required to don a jacket. –Alia Akkam