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Running with Molly Cohen at the Rainbow Room

T. Edward Wines, New York Organic wine importer/distributor, Molly Cohen, Rainbow Room, Karen Ulrich for T. Edward WinesMolly Cohen at SixtyFive Lounge

Six weeks before this year’s New York City Marathon, Molly Cohen began working as the Rainbow Room’s Director of Beverage and SixtyFive Lounge, which opened October 5th. “It was difficult to train Monday through Friday. I was up at six and home by midnight,” said Molly. “The last six weeks [of training] dwindled to a moderate run on Saturday and a long run on Sunday.” Yet she finished in 3:40. “For the last six miles,” she added, “I couldn’t maintain my pace.”

Lovely, light and effervescent with a bright smile, Molly first started in food and wine when waiting tables. “When I started studying wine with Greg Harrington, MS, at the group I was working with, I took to beverage management,” she said. “It allows me to play with my creative side in a way that operations doesn’t. It’s like a color wheel or opening the 64 Crayola box when there are different flavors. It’s the same thing with the cocktail program. It draws a lot on my sommelier training. What’s a balanced cocktail? It’s like a balanced wine.”

When Molly left her position as the General Manager at Hundred Acres in May, it was to consult and take time off to focus on her own business. However, she and TEW’s John Coyle, who have known each other for years, have a mutual friend who was consulting on the Rainbow Room. “So I reached out to him. It was the antithesis of taking a break,” she said and laughed, “but it turns out they’d been looking for a Beverage Director for some time and hadn’t yet found the right person.”

 T. Edward Wines, New York wine importer/distributor, Rainbow Room, Karen Ulrich for T. Edward WinesThe view from SixtyFive Lounge

The right person was definitely found in Molly. “I always think it’s funny when someone makes a [wine] list and they talk about only what they like,” she said. “Vendors have told me they appreciate that I don’t shop for myself.” Knowing the range of her cliental, both at the Rainbow Room and at SixtyFive, Molly features familiar names, like Billecart-Salmon and J. J. Prüm, but also lists wines that you won’t find at national chains, like Do Ferreiro Albariño and Poco á Poco Pinot Noir. “It’s important to know that this is primarily a cocktail lounge and that people will drink wine,” she added. “We had three women in here last night who had three bottles of wine, and we don’t serve food!”

With a Personal Best of 3:15, also ran at the New York City Marathon, Molly once did Boston in 3:17. “Those hills,” she said, shook her head and laughed, “from mile 18, 22, 23, it’s a series of hills. It culminates with Heartbreak Hill, which is ¾ mile uphill and it’s pretty steep. But it’s such an amazing city. People go nuts. In Boston it’s a holiday. The banks are closed and they’re into it whether they know people running or not.”

Referring to Boston and New York as her spring and fall anchors, Molly often adds another marathon to her yearly ritual, if there’s time. “You never get that far off base that way,” she said. When working at Hundred Acres, Molly would run to work from Brooklyn, and then run home at night after her shift.

Molly Running Marathon
Molly running the Boston Marathon 2014 & NYC Marathon 2013

“It keeps me balanced. It’s another side to being in touch with your physical self, as far as being in touch with your taste and smell,” she said. “It’s not uncommon to hear about chefs that are athletes. People ask how I wear heels for 13 hours, but that’s nothing compared to running a marathon.”

With the Rainbow Room open to the public for Sunday brunch and on Monday night’s only, the Room has been reserved for its traditional/original usage as an event space. “If you’ve seen the old photos,” she said, “it’s [still] very much like that. It’s magical. It’s classic. There are people who come who used to come here. A few weeks ago, there was a couple. He was turning 100 and she was ninety-something. They danced all night. I’m not kidding! It was so youthful and so sweet. It’s that kind of room where you feel special.”

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