If you look deep into the mural on the wall of the King Cole Bar at 55th and 5th in New York City, the stories will flow. The bar takes its name from the subject of the mural, Old King Cole, painted by Maxfield Parrish in 1906 for a short-lived 42nd Street hotel called The Knickerbocker. After the Knickerbocker failed, the painting traveled among art dealers before arriving in 1932 at the bar in the St. Regis, where it remains to this day. The bar has come to take on the name of the painting. "People spend hours drinking and looking at the mural and trying to figure out what story is being told," Speed says. "There is an actual answer." Far be it from us to spoil a good night, but here's a one-word hint: olfaction.
If the offer of a good mystery doesn't lead you there, a great Bloody Mary should. Many argue that the King Cole is where, in its current incarnation, the famous drink was actually born. "There was a drink in London called the Red Snapper that came over to New York, and in the Old King Cole, somebody created a Bloody Mary," Speed says. "That's lore within the world of mixology." Bonus: It's an unrivaled place for a first date. [King Cole Bar; 2 East 55th Street, New York, NY, 212-339-6857]