By Kathryn O'Shea-Evans
Updated: February 02, 2017

T+L drops in on Bemelmans, New York’s iconic Upper East Side watering hole.

Its clientele has included Harry Truman, Jackie Kennedy, and Cyndi Lauper (who sang impromptu with the house band last year), but one of the most celebrated locals at Bemelmans Bar, in the Carlyle, a Rosewood Hotel, was Ludwig Bemelmans himself. In 1947 the Madeline author and illustrator lived rent-free upstairs while he painted scenes of Central Parkon the bar’s walls. (Years later skilled art restorers used countless slices of wet Wonder Bread to sop up the decades of nicotine buildup on the murals.) Today the bar is a hangout for scenesters of every age. Case in point: after Hurricane Sandy, the leather banquettes were so filled with electricity-deprived fashionistas that it was deemed the “Uptown Boom Boom Room.” Some places never lose their spark.

“They make the best martini in the city. I order it Bombay, olives, with a water back.” —Ed Donaldson, Marketing Executive

“When I was four, I would sit on the piano here and sing for maraschino cherries.” —Lila Claghorn, Director of Communications

“It’s the new Elaine’s—for the younger, hipper set.” —Cathy Riva, Event Planner

“This place is a total throwback—decadent and nostalgic.” —Lidia Andich, Art Sales Associate