Bloody Mary’s at The Old King Cole Bar

| October 7, 2012

This summer I paid several visits to The Old King Cole Bar in the St. Regis Hotel, which claims to have brought the Bloody Mary to America, /however, lore has it that the original version was created at one of the several iterations of Harry’s Bar. The Old King Cole Bar calls their drink the “Red Snapper” and they make it with Absolute Vodka, Sacramento brand canned tomato juice (I have found this to be exceedingly important), lemon Juice, black Pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire Sauce and celery salt. By request, they will provide a recipe card with the drink. However, the card does not mention the white pepper or celery salt and I can conclude, after some experimentation, that the card’s proportions are about as helpful as just tasting as you go.

Nevertheless, the Old King Cole Bar is the perfect place for a Bloody Mary. Their actual recipe, whatever it is, is classic and delicious. The room wafts sophistication and history, and the Maxfield Parrish Portrait backlights one of the most simple but elegant bars in New York City. Every aspect of the interior is fancy, but not too overdone, and the lighting is somehow dim without impairing vision. The bar staff is friendly and unpretentious. They are also unionized, which is somewhat irrelevant but notably rare in New York City. For a second, as you walk in, the bar makes you forget that the St. Regis is no longer a “hip” destination. This saddens me because I am not someone who particularly enjoys lines or bottle service at a hotel bar, or anywhere for that matter. Still, it has maintained a notable, comfortable level of sophistication and is a great setting to lose track of time with an old friend in, be it a friend that doesn’t mind the exceedingly steep prices.

Though the Old King Cole bar is a great place to stop in for a drink, it is not really a perfect place for brunch. For a good brunch with a great Bloody Mary, try Colicchio and Sons in the Meat Packing District, or Landmarc in Columbus Circle. The most exciting Bloody Mary, however, is the pitcher you make yourself and/or for your friends. It is best to pour a good amount of tomato juice over ice into a pitcher and then add a little bit of everything else. Taste it and tinker to your liking. Just in case you were considering skipping it, you can find a celery salt recipe here: