This famous club, over 80 years old, remains one of the most emblematic places in the city, a place to see and be seen.
By Mary Elizabeth Collins
The 21 Club is one of the finest, most exclusive and emblematic clubs in New York City. This place has transcended time and fads with an unquestionable reputation since its debut in 1922 when cousins Jack Kriendler and Charlie Berns opened their first speakeasy. They called it The Read Head, and it was located in Greenwich Village, during Prohibition. The watering hole became famous as a meeting place for important New Yorkers.
To avoid police raids, the owners changed the location and name of their establishment three times, until they settled at 21 West 52nd Street. By the 1930’s—and with the ban on the sale of alcohol lifted—the club was renamed 21 and reached great success. At some point, the exclusive members of the 21 Club could rub shoulders with actor Humphrey Bogart or baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, who was a fan of the Chicken Hash. Another regular of the Club was the Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis who loved his Habanos and the 21 Burger. The burger is still on the Club’s menu. The Club has served as background for Hollywood films like Manhattan Murder Mystery, If Only—staring Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney—and some scenes of the popular Sex and the City series.
The Bar Room dazzles with an astonishing collection of toys hanging from the ceiling, as well as memorabilia from famous sports stars, U.S. Presidents, actors and tycoons. The menu offers modern American cuisine, with an option of barrel-aged craft beer, or some excellent wines from its award-winning list.
The 21 Bar & Lounge is ideal for a frugal lunch, or a bite to eat accompanied by one of their signature cocktails while looking around at New York's most beautiful people, or to relax by the fireplace with a single malt during the harsh winter.
Meanwhile, Upstairs at 21 has 11 exquisitely decorated private rooms that can accommodate groups from 10 to 200 guests. If you want to celebrate a wedding or any other event, you have the option of a grand hall that sits 400 guests.
You should not miss a visit to the cellar, which has a large dining room surrounded by over 2,000 bottles dating from the Prohibition era.
Today, over 80 years later, this famous club remains one of the most significant places in a unique city. A place to be, but above all, to be seen. ■
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