* You are viewing the archive for August, 2006

New York’s oldest bartender, and the Algonquin Cocktail

Hoy Wong, of New York’s famous Algonquin Hotel, has been behind the stick for a good while now.

Marilyn Monroe came Wednesdays for lunch and ordered a Beefeater martini, very dry. Danny Kaye pulled his jacket over his head to avoid being recognized. Judy Garland sat in a corner drinking Johnnie Walker Red.

“Judy Garland, very sad,” said Hoy Wong, who is about to be feted by his employer of 27 years, the Algonquin Hotel, on the occasion of his 90th birthday. “She always had a cocktail glass in her hand.”

Wong, or Mr. Hoy, as he is known, has been working as a bartender for 58 years. Unless another candidate steps forward, his bosses seem safe in calling him the city’s oldest bartender.

“He never misses a day,” said Bill Liles, the Algonquin’s general manager. “If the weather’s bad he shows up early. It’s just really an honor to work with someone like Mr. Hoy.”

I so, so want to visit Mr. Hoy and have him make me a Martini! OK all youse New Yorkers out there … go pay the man your respects, and please tell him I said happy birthday.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Hoy!

In honor of Mr. Hoy Wong, we present a cocktail named for the venerable hotel where he plies his trade, and the “Round Table” of people like Dorothy Parker, Roberty Benchley and Noel Coward who used to hang out there. Better still, it’s a rye cocktail, and as Wes is fond of saying, what the world needs now is more rye cocktails.

The Algonquin Cocktail

1-1/2 ounces straight rye whiskey.
3/4 ounce pineapple juice.
3/4 ounce dry vermouth.

Combine with ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds.
Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish optional, your call.


The Topolobampo Cocktail

This is the marvelous drink we had at Topolobampo in Chicago. Oh, that mezcal … wonderful, wonderful stuff, artisanally made in Oaxaca, Mexico, and one of several varieties under the Del Maguey label, each from a different village and each with its own character.

This went right onto our home cocktail menu, but I felt compelled to rename it. Topolobampo has made a world-class drink but with a garden-variety name (and as it doesn’t have any triple sec in it, it’s technically not a margarita anyway). I decided to rename it after the restaurant.


Topolobampo Cocktail
(Adapted from the “Mezcal Margarita”, Topolobampo Restaurant, Chicago)

1 ounce Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal, San Luis del Rio.
1/2 ounce Don Pedro Mexican brandy.
1 ounce fresh lime juice.
3/4 ounces simple syrup.
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters.
Coarse salt.

Moisten the outer rim of the glass and dredge through salt.

Combine all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and shake until ice cold.
Strain into prepared glass, garnish with a lime wedge.

This is a complex and wonderful drink … you’re gonna love it.