Empire State Building's New Bar Makes Observation Deck Lines Somewhat Tolerable

by BILLY GRAY · March 30, 2010

New York's most iconic building just got an overdue bar. The Empire Room has set up shop in the ground floor of the Empire State Building, bringing upmarket design and cocktails to a neighborhood riddled with tchotchke shops and fast food joints. -

The Empire State Building is one of those local landmarks many locals are proud to have never visited. It's too early to say if The Empire Room will change that. But its pedigree gives it a fighting chance. Owner Mark Grossitch is the man behind Grand Central's excellent Campbell Apartment, the vintage cocktail den tucked away in the buzzing terminal that attracts thirsty commuters (and, yes, a few tourists) looking for a break from Molly Malone's.

Cocktails include the namesake Empire (gin, dry vermouth, orange liqueur, lemon juice, raspberry jam and Champagne) and the Waldorf ((Rye,  Antica, absinthe and Manhattan bitters). The '20s art deco decor (velvet chairs, polished steel, crystal chandeliers, looming economic collapse) complements the drinks, which also include your standard wine and beer.

If out of town gawkers initially dominate the lounge, at least a martini could sooth the acrophobic jitters and make those protective gates all the more necessary.

(Photo Courtesy of Robert Caplin/New York Times)