Joanie Von Wulffen has always dreamed of going to the ’21’ Club. Other girls busy themselves playing house (too Stepford Wives) or glimpsing their future career in fashion while dressing their American Girl dolls, but not Joanie. No, this precocious Upper East Sider spends her days envisioning the jewels she will accessorize her cashmere sweater set with when finally hosting her first grownup luncheon at ‘21’ with her best friends, Simone and Henrietta. She’d have to keep an eye on Simone…there’s mischief behind that smile of hers.
She can see it now: First, they’ll be greeted by Eddie Cordero, the club’s famous Captain. (Joanie’s mother says that Mr. Cardero started as a busboy at the ‘21’ back in the 1970s.) They’ll be escorted past the famous Bar Room and Cocktail Lounge — where screen stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age once mingled, and where celebrity spottings are still a regular occurrence — on to the restaurant-within-a-restaurant, Upstairs at ’21’. Passing by the Bar Room to the stairs, Joanie will imagine the sound of Lauran Bacall’s throaty laugh as she and Humphrey Bogart enjoy their first date.
Seated at their table, the three girls will savor the epicurean delights courtesy of Executive Chef John Greeley, whilst sipping tea and discussing matters of significance; most pressingly, Simone’s gold threaded necklace by Iwona Ludyga Design.
After finishing their last drop of tea, the girls will ask for a private tour. History isn’t Joanie’s strong suit, but ‘21’ began as a speakeasy, and to be raided by the Feds twice during Prohibition, with liquor being found on the premise only once (bad luck), is a feat reliant on drama and secrets … two of Joanie’s favourite things.
Hence, the wine cellar being ranked top on Joanie’s list. Designed by architect Frank Buchanan, the space was originally used to hide liquor in the event of raids. Today, it is where the elite come to dine … and where, one day, Joanie will have her 21st birthday. (Rumour has it that the private cellar still holds a bottle meant for Chelsea Clinton’s 21st birthday. Chelsea, who celebrated her 17th birthday in the Bar Room, just turned 30. Why let a bottle go to waste?)