Wednesday, December 05, 2012

(Twenty) One For My Baby


The 21 Club is one of those storied New York institutions for fancy people (the kind of place I'd dare not darken the door.)  It's existed, in one form or another, for ninety years: from it's early life as a West Village speakeasy to it's current iteration as an exclusive midtown bar & restaurant.

According to Wikipedia, the 21 Club was at one point the epitome of cool - out-smarting the police and holding wine for Frank Sinatra (!):
"Although raided by police numerous times during Prohibition, the [owners] were never caught. As soon as a raid began, a system of levers was used to tip the shelves of the bar, sweeping the liquor bottles through a chute and into the city's sewers.  
The bar also included a secret wine cellar, which was accessed through a hidden door in a brick wall which opened into the basement of the building next door (number 19). Though still used as a wine cellar today, part of the vault has been remodeled to allow a party of up to 20 guests to dine in private.  
21 also stored the private wine collections of such celebrities as Presidents Gerald Ford, John F. Kennedy, and Richard Nixon; Joan Crawford; Elizabeth Taylor; Hugh Carey; Ernest Hemingway; Ivan Boesky; The Nordstrom Sisters; Frank Sinatra; Al Jolson; Gloria Vanderbilt; Sophia Loren; Mae West; Zsa Zsa Gabor; Aristotle Onassis; Gene Kelly; Gloria Swanson; Judy Garland; Sammy Davis, Jr.; and Marilyn Monroe."


Before I knew it's history, I knew the 21 Club as "the place with all the lawn jockeys," owing to the statues that line the facade, like tiny ineffectual guards.  Why the jockeys?  Enter, again, Wikipedia:
"In the 1930s, some of the affluent customers of the bar began to show their appreciation by presenting 21 with jockeys painted to represent the racing colors of the stables they owned. There are a total of 33 jockeys on the exterior of the building, and 2 more inside the doors."
Oh, of course.  Reminds me of how I'm forever gifting my frequented establishments with decorative anchors emblazoned with the name of my yacht, Felicity II.

Just kidding.

My yacht's name is Perpetua.

1 comment:

gingermakes said...

Ha! Felicity II! I love those little jockeys.