Albert’s bar brings back 50s nightlife nostalgia to Midtown

Albert's Bar in Midtown Manhattan
Albert’s Bar in Midtown Manhattan promises to become NYC’s next lightlife hotspot.
Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Sleeping Giant NY -the team behind independent gastropubs like The Penrose, The Bonnie, and The Spaniard-  has outdone itself with its latest venue, Albert’s bar, located at East 140 E 41 Street in Midtown Manhattan.

Judging by the crowd mingling around the larger-than-life bar, enjoying hand-crafted cocktails and draft beer served in frozen mugs at the grand opening on March 15, the venue is well on its way to become the next “it-place” of New York City’s nightlife.

Partner Ruairi Curtin shared that the 6,500 square-foot space,  just one block away from Grand Central Terminal and One Vanderbilt, was the team’s most ambitious undertaking so far.

“We’ve been looking for space in the area for probably five years. We found it two years ago,” Curtin said. “The construction and design process took two full years, but we’re here and we’re ready to go.”

The large bar is the center point of Albert’s Bar.Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

The design, conjured by Manhattan-based design firm Parts and Labor, transports guests back to the 50s when Midtown Manhattan was a roaring party scene. 

Paying homage to the 50s era, everything, from the bar stools over the tables to the lighting at the bar is custom-made, and the leather seatings, wood, and brass lend an elegant and warm atmosphere. 

The giant bar is located in the center of the venue because the team was striving for a “great social experience for everyone.”

“Back in the 50s, they went to the bar, elbow to elbow,” Curtin said. “That’s where all the journalists went to meet the baseball players and the actors, and that’s where the stories came from.” 

The upstair’s bar and event space allows for private parties.Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

The drink and food menus are a throwback to the 50s. The cocktail menu features a variety of old-world drinks like martinis, negronis, and Albert’s signature drink, Albert’s Gibson,  made with blanc and dry vermouth, gin, a splash of manzanilla sherry and a house-pickled onion.

Designated drivers or patrons, who want to continue “Dry January,” won’t miss the alcohol when ordering one of the non-alcoholic cocktails like “Love That For You,” made with Lyre’s Italian spritz, zero-proof prosecco, and citrus 12.

Albert’s bar keeps the food menu simple with small dishes for sharing, like the smoked Castelvetrano olives, Shishito peppers served with Yuzu Aioli, nori, and sesame, the Mortadella Toastie with Swiss cheese served on Martin’s Potato Roll or the Jerk Chicken Drummies. More ravenous patrons can indulge in the Lobster Cake Thermidor or a 35 oz dry-aged Porterhouse for two. 

“The food back then was pretty simple. We kept it simple. It’s all a throwback to that era,” Curtin said. “We do a lot of small dishes because we want to keep it social. We want people to grab a drink at the bar, grab a cocktail, a frosty mug of beer, which as well would have been used back in the 50s and be social, mingle, chat, become friends.”

The Forbidden Rice Arancini are prepared with peas, Swiss Cheese, and come with a side of marinara.Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

The airy venue includes a gallery with a bar and seating as well as a private dining room outfitted with audio and visual equipment and a projector screen. 

Peter Vasconcellos said the team drew their inspiration from Midtown’s art deco and mid-century architecture and 50s bars like Toots Shor and Latin Quarter Nightclub. 

Vasconcellos wants Albert’s bar to be part of Midtown’s revival, bringing back the “swinging time without all the stuff that was bad about the 50s.”

“Grand Central is becoming a hub again, or a bigger hub than it ever was. One Vanderbilt’s a brand new beautiful building,” Vasconcellos said. “People are coming back to the office. There’s some great restaurants going in around here. We want to be a great bar around here.”

Albert’s Bar Jerk Chicken Drummies.Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Future plans include lunch hours and catering. However, right now, Vasconcellos said,  the team is focusing on making the venue on “awesome” bar, which includes training top-notch staff. 

“We’re trying to make all our bartenders into really great, friendly old school, Midtown bartenders,” Vasconcellos said.

Friends Kayla Young and Shannon Hurley hail from Manhattan. Both loved the atmosphere and thought the space looked “cool and fun.”

Enjoying their espresso and pickled martinis, Young and Hurley said they would certainly return. 

“I like the vogue style of the bar,” Hurley said. “It has an eclectic slash rustic approach to it. Like kind of in between. It’s really nice vibe.”

Albert’s bar is open from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m., seven days a week.

The large bar is the center point of Albert’s Bar. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann
Albert’s Bar serves non-alcoholic drinks like the “Love That For You.” Photo by Gabriele Holtermann
Shishito peppers served with Yuzu Aioli, nori, and sesame. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann
A bartender prepares one of Albert’s Bar’s signature cocktails. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann
Friends Shannon Hurley and Kayla Young enjoy their time at Albert’s Bar. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann