The 21 Club is a famed restaurant and former prohibition-era speakeasy, located at 21 West 52nd Street in New York City.
The club was founded by cousins Jack Kriendler and Charlie Berns and was originally known as "Jack and Charlie's 21". Although raided by police numerous times during Prohibition, the two managed to escape being caught. As soon as a raid began, a system of levers was used to instantly sweep the liquor bottles from the bar and dump them into the city's sewers. The bar also included a secret wine cellar, which was accessed through a hidden door in a brick wall which opened into the basement of the building next door (number 19). Though still used as a wine cellar today, part of the vault has been remodeled to allow a party of up to 20 guests to dine in private. 21 has also been entrusted with the private wine collections of such celebrities as Presidents Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon, Elizabeth Taylor, Hugh Carey, Ivan Boesky, The Nordstrom Sisters, Eva Gabor, Aristotle Onasis and Sammy Davis, Jr.
At Christmas time the regulars received silk scarves decorated with a motif of various unique club insignia. Siggie Nordstrom had a collection of several dozen of these she'd received through the years.
Perhaps the most famous feature of 21 is the line of painted castiron jockey statues which adorns the balcony above the entrance. In the 1930s, some of the affluent customers of the bar began to show their appreciation by presenting 21 with jockeys painted to represent the racing colors of the stables they owned. There are a total of 33 jockeys on the exterior of the building, and 2 more inside the doors.
The historic Bar Room includes a restaurant, a smoking lounge (although smoking indoors is currently illegal in the state of New York, and 21's days of subverting the authorities are clearly over) and, of course, a bar. The walls and ceiling of the Bar Room are covered with antique toys and sports memorabilia, a veritable museum of 20th century Americana. Celebrity sightings are common.
Opened in 2002, the elegant Upstairs at 21 is a separate restaurant, open only for dinner.
21 is not a private club, but reservations are required. Diners should expect to spend at least $100 per person (a hamburger and fries at lunch costs $27), and men are required to wear a jacket and tie. Denim attire (e.g. jeans) or sneakers are not permitted, without exception.