THE LEGEND OF THE ST. REGIS BAR
& The Original Bloody Mary
The St. Regis has a story—a tale that few patrons have heard and even fewer know about, a mysterious chronicle that surrounds an old painting that adorns the King Cole Bar at The St. Regis New York. Passed down from bartender to
bartender, this story stemming from the heart of New York City has
evolved into the foundation and tradition behind all St. Regis’ bars
throughout the world.
The story traces back to over a century ago when in 1906, hotel
owner Colonel John Jacob Astor commissioned artist, Maxfield
Parrish, to paint a mural for his 42nd Street hotel, The Knickerbocker.
Hesitant at first, Parrish eventually accepted the project for a “kingly
sum” of $5,000 to create the painting that would later be deemed as the
Old King Cole mural. The artwork was installed at the Knickerbocker,
though the fate of its permanency was short-lived as the hotel closed
soon after. The 30 x 8 foot mural was relocated throughout the city
before landing at The St. Regis New York in 1932—also becoming
the namesake for the hotel’s bar. The mischievous mural, spanning
the length of the elongated oak bar-top, features a smirking King Cole
seated at the center surrounded by servants, jesters, minstrels and two
guards with peculiar looks on their faces. The rumored tale is that there
is a secret behind the guards’ unusual expressions, an explanation that
usually has to be coaxed out of the bartenders.
The Old King Cole mural recently went under a $100,000
restoration and has become a legendary piece that provides a time-honored connection between all St. Regis bars. In honor of tradition,
The St. Regis Princeville Bar also boasts an extravagant painting that
often solicits curious questions from guests. While there is no secret
mystery behind this 10-foot painting, the mural does pay tribute to
the rich culture of Kaua‘i. Led by artist Doug Bouman and featuring
Kaua‘i painter, Lynn Hessler, ‘Öahi o Makana illustrates an ancient fire
throwing tradition off the Makana Mountain.