From Chanticleer Society

The Blackbird Bar in New York, was shortlived and didn't gain much recognition, but it can be considered as the bar which heralded the way for American bar culture. Opened in early 1999 by Dale DeGroff, with Audrey Saunders as his first hire, it provided a brief, but important, proving ground for craft cocktails.[1]


60 East 49th Street
New York NY
Opened: April 5th(?), 1999
Closed: December 24th(?), 1999

Notes to Expand Upon

William Grimes Review (NYTimes, June 4th, 1999)

"The show is the same. Mr. DeGroff, who holds court during the week at lunch and Tuesdays through Saturdays in the evenings, likes to throw a lot of English into mixing a drink. And he still insists that fruit be squeezed fresh for every drink. This time around, though, Mr. DeGroff has created a millennium-minded cocktail menu that draws inspiration from the turn of the last century, when Americans liked their drinks fancy and fruity." - Blackbird was located at 60 East 49th Street, New York NY [2].

Alexandra McGinley (NYTimes, April 18, 1999)

"For many, the choice used to be as simple as red wine with meat and white wine with fish. But at Blackbird, a two-week-old restaurant at 60 East 49th Street (between Madison and Park Avenues), the prevailing belief is that cocktails and food can pair just as easily.

B.E. Windows Corporation, the owner of Windows on the World, has installed Dale DeGroff, former bartender at the Rainbow Room, to create specific drinks to match the food of Mike Smith, the chef. Diners can consider a Blood and Sand (Scotch, Cherry Heering, sweet vermouth and orange juice) with an entree of braised lamb with sweet potatoes; or a Pegu cocktail, named for a turn-of-the-century club in Burma (gin, Curacao, lime and bitters), with ginger crab cakes in roasted red pepper sauce. Each of Mr. DeGroff's more than 70 drinks costs $8.50.

Blackbird is open from 11:30 A.M. to 1 A.M. Tuesdays through Sundays, and until midnight on Mondays." [3]

Event: Turning Wine Into Cocktails (NYTimes, July 14, 1999)

Dale DeGroff, the city's best-known drink mixer, is determined to replace wine with cocktails. He is pairing them with a five-course dinner July 26 at Blackbird, 60 East 49th Street. Example: short ribs of beef with a claret cobbler, a red wine drink with vermouth and fruit. Reservations, $75 plus tax and gratuities: (212) 692-9292." [4]

Dale DeGroff’s Epochal Blackbird (Rum Reader, July 28, 2020)

"But there’s a stage in DeGroff’s development which isn’t as well documented, and it’s that stage which may have been his most influential. For an action-packed nine months in 1999, DeGroff was—for the first and only time—a partner and proprietor of a bar of his own, the groundbreaking yet unremembered Blackbird; the bar which heralded the way for American bar culture." [1]


Blackbird closed Christmas Eve in 1999: "Blackbird, the restaurant at 60 East 49th Street where cocktail-meister Dale DeGroff does his stirring and shaking, is to close at the end of this week. "We couldn't make it make money," said David Emil, an owner. "We like the location, so we're hoping to find a tenant who can be a joint-venture partner with us." " [5]

External Links


  1. 1.0 1.1 How Dale DeGroff’s Epochal Blackbird Revitalized Cocktail Culture By Ben Schaffer, July 28, 2020
  2. DINER'S JOURNAL - BlackBird Review by William Grimes (NYTimes, June 4th, 1999)
  3. NEW YORKERS & CO.; Where Cocktails and Dinner Are Made for Each Other by Alexandra McGinley (NYTimes, April 18, 1999)
  4. NYTimes Calendar (NYTimes, July 14, 1999)
  5. OFF THE MENU by Florence Fabricant (NYTimes, Dec. 22, 1999)