The Algonquin’s legendary literary watering hole has a new, more modern look.
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If you’ve spent any time working in Midtown, and you occasionally indulge in an after-work martini (under the pretense of an important meeting, naturally), chances are you’ve got a soft spot for the Blue Bar.
It’s one of those NYC stalwarts, where the bartenders stick around for 30-plus years and a bowl of nuts showing up with your drinks is as likely as a summer heat wave. The dim lighting and location, tucked off the side of the storied Algonquin Hotel, on Club Row (44th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues), don’t hurt.
But even stalwarts need to get with the times, and the Blue Bar is no exception. After closing for five months for some major renovations—the whole hotel got a $25 million makeover—the bar recently reopened with a shiny, modern look that will no doubt attract a crowd of regulars about 20 years younger than the usual suspects. Although the dark oak walls remain the same, the bar has been elongated and now has a resin top with LED lights that change colors every few minutes.
The lighting, once the province of old wall sconces, is now taken care of by futuristic, circular neon blue lights hanging from the ceiling. Banquettes and bar stools are all new, and the former club chairs have been redone in blue snakeskin leather. In fact, the entire bar is more “blue” than it ever was. John Barrymore would have been proud; the actor, who lived at the Algonquin and was its most famous drinker, once begged the owners to change the lighting to blue, as it was far less harsh on his hangovers.
For any regulars who might be opposed to the changes, rest assured that the features that made the joint so charming are still in place, including the bartenders and those ubiquitous bowls of bar snacks. As for the hotel, the much-needed modernization has transformed it from an old dame into a something a few shades closer to grande (but, as always, one who doesn’t put on airs).