Julie Reiner Takes Over Monkey Bars Cocktail Program

Graydon Carter, owner of Monkey Bar has revamped the crew for his restaurant bringing on board Damon Wise (executive chef of Craft for five years, is running the kitchen), Julie Reiner (owner of Flatiron Lounge, Clover Club and Lani Kai, is looking over the cocktails) and Belinda Chang (former wine and service director of the Modern, is now the Monkey Bar general manager)

The NYT asked Graydon Carter why the hiring? “The restaurant business has changed in New York, and you really have to be better now,” said Mr. Carter, 62, the glam vizier of power dining at the Waverly Inn, where he is an owner. “The food bar in New York has risen considerably. One-star food doesn’t cut it anymore.”

Just two days ago I was writing on how downtown cocktails keep on moving to midtown, Monkey bar located on East 54th Street seems to keep reaffirming that statement.The Times asked Ms. Reiner what she plans to do with the bar: “We’re going to turn it into a serious mixology bar,” she said. “Midtown has been lacking when it comes to this style of cocktail bar, and really great drinks are still new to many people in Midtown.”

To that end, there will be “a list of classics as well as a new menu we’re thinking of calling Monkey Business,” she said, adding that Monkey Bar is her first consulting job. Previously, she had only created beverage programs for her own establishments.
Ms. Reiner, 40, plans to ramp up the staff to six bartenders and two to three bar backs, all of it led by Bryan Schneider, formerly of Clover Club.
The casually swanky four-stool bar in the formerly bankrupt Élysée was opened in 1936; some hold that the gin mill’s name came from little monkey decals on the mirrors above the banquettes suggesting that the tippling customers were making monkeys of themselves. {NYT}

They often did. Ben Hecht, Helen Hayes, Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley and Tennessee Williams were moths to the flame of conviviality, booze and risqué piano acts there.

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