National Trust Historic Hotels of America
Showcases Many Legendary Bars
|WASHINGTON, D.C., June 12, 2006 — Since the days when the Founding
Fathers gathered in local taverns to voice their dissention and hatch a
new Republic, Americans have had a love affair with pubs and bars. Many
of these watering holes can be found in historic hotels across the country,
where movers and shakers have mingled with tradesmen and tourists. Through
war and peace, prohibition and segregation, these hotels have been the
perfect host, offering cold drinks and convivial conversation. Whether
you like your history straight up, or with a twist of humor, National Trust
Historic Hotels of America invites you to belly-up to some of the country’s
bars. Enjoy a signature cocktail, soak in the flavor of yesteryear
and sample a salty tale or two as you raise a toast to some of America’s
great gathering spots. Recipes for many of the signature drinks referenced
in tales below are featured at the end of this release.
Prohibition: Happy Days are Here Again
The delectable yet distasteful-sounding Aspen Crud was created during the days of Prohibition when the J-Bar in the Hotel Jerome, Aspen, Colo., was converted to a soda fountain. Crud was the code word instructing the bartender to add several shots of liquor, usually bourbon, to the rich milkshake served at the bar-turned-soda fountain. Aspen Crud recipe follows at end of this release.
The Cruise Room at The Oxford Hotel in Denver opened its doors on December 6, 1933, the day after Prohibition was repealed. It was christened the Cruise Room as it was designed to replicate a lounge on the luxury liner the Queen Mary. The walls were, and still are, adorned with bas-relief panels that depicted “toasts” from countries around the world. Germany’s entry paid homage to none other than Adolf Hitler. The panel was removed when the United States entered World War II. Lemon Drop recipe from the hotel follows at end of this release.
Although Prohibition was abolished in 1933, remnants lingered in many states in the form of “blue laws.” Until the state of Washington repealed one of its remaining restrictions in 1976, lounges were strictly forbidden from being viewed from the outside lest the temptation of seeing a bar and bartender mixing drinks would lure an unwilling person inside for a drink. Oliver’s Lounge in the Mayflower Park Hotel in Seattle emerged as the city’s first “daylight bar,” opening for business with large floor-to-ceiling windows and 300 panes of glass showcasing street-side activity. Recipe for Oliver’s Classic Martini follows at end of this release.
The ban on alcohol sales in Rockport, Mass., lasted even longer. It was finally repealed in the spring of 2005. Bruce Coates, the owner of the Emerson Inn by the Sea was the first person in line with a completed application for a liquor license. On July 12, 2005, the first drink legally sold since 1933 ended a tradition of allowing guests to bring their own beverages.
Western Watering Holes
In 1888, the Hotel del Coronado in Coronado, Calif., opened to great fanfare. Owners Elisha Babcock H.L. and Story secured all liquor rights in town so that no other businesses could serve alcoholic beverages. The bar itself was almost 50 feet in length, with a ninety-degree angle at one point and a forty-degree angle at another. Constructed by the Brunswick Company in Pennsylvania, it was shipped fully assembled around Cape Horn. The spacious gentleman’s bar was acclaimed for its size and adjoined the men’s billiard room (in keeping with Victorian times, no women were allowed in the bar). This historic venue has enjoyed enormous popularity over the years, surviving Prohibition thanks to its close proximity to Mexico, which kept the bar well-supplied. During World War II, the Del’s bar saw increased action when the resort housed many Navy pilots who trained nearby. In fact, the hotel manager later admitted that bar receipts—and bar receipts alone—had kept the Del financially intact during the otherwise impoverished war years. Today, the original 118-year old bar is located in the Babcock & Story Bar, offering cocktails and light fare, indoor and outdoor seating and spectacular ocean views.
The bar at The Driskill
in Austin, Texas, captures the spirit of Texas justice. It was there
in 1934 that Frank Hamer and the Texas Rangers hatched plan to capture
notorious outlaws Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. During the meeting, Hamer
agreed to aid the Rangers by setting a trap at a nearby mail drop, ultimately
resulting in the demise of Bonnie and Clyde.
A local hot spot and a landmark in Paso Robles, Calif., the Cattlemen’s Lounge at the Paso Robles Inn is an authentic western bar and lounge—a great place to learn about Paso Robles history and culture. At least twice over the years, the lounge has seen horses ridden up the stairs and into the bar. A local patron known as “Grandpa” saddled up in 1956 followed by his grandson in 1976. As might be suspected, this is a family tradition that is strongly discouraged by the management!
The Algonquin Hotel in New York has been a gathering place for luminaries for decades. In addition to a drink menu that pays homage to the hotel’s literary roots, with offerings such as the Slush Pile Martini, The Parker, My Fair Lady and The Vicious Circle, all cocktails are served on napkins inscribed with Dorothy Parker’s quote, “I love a martini–but two at the most. Three, I’m under the table; four, I’m under the host.” Now, the Algonquin offers guests a chance to capture their share of the limelight with the Martini on the Rock. The drink carries a $10,000 price tag and includes a private meeting with the hotel’s preferred jeweler to select the perfect piece of “ice.” At a pre-arranged time and place within the hotel, your signature drink will be poured – and memorably garnished.
The Last Hurrah Bar at the Omni Parker House in Boston derives its name from the novel 1956 The Last Hurrah by Edwin O’Connor. Although the author claimed it was a work of fiction, it bore significant resemblance to the life and career of Boston’s legendary mayor and governor, James Michael Curley. Curley reportedly considered filing a libel suit against O’Connor but was actually rather amused with the attention and eventually backed down.
Raising the Bar
In 1927 when The Hotel Northampton in Northampton, Mass., opened, it achieved the goal of entrepreneur Lewis Wiggins of building the finest hotel in Northampton. Seeking to expand the hotel’s restaurant offerings, Wiggins acquired an adjacent building and moved the historic Wiggins Tavern from Hopkinton, N.H., to the site. Originally built in 1786 by Benjamin Wiggins, a direct ancestor of Lewis Wiggins, the tavern featured carved paneling, hand-hewn beams and antique hearths, all of which were all carefully reconstructed at the Hotel Northampton. Antiques from both the original tavern and other parts of New England were collected to further enhance the authentic flavor.
With its 30-foot long mahogany bar, the newly renovated and recently reopened Peacock Alley restaurant at The Waldorf=Astoria in New York, has a long and rich history. The restaurant salutes the original Waldorf=Astoria which was a hybrid of two neighboring hotels—The Waldorf and The Astoria, each owned by different members of the Astor family. The two hotels were joined by a 300-foot long mirrored corridor, which became a runway for showcasing the latest fashions. At both ends of that corridor were grand restaurants and it was common for the fashionable to wander back and forth showing off their splendor—sort of the red carpet of the time. Noted by a writer at the time as being akin to “many peacocks strutting,” the name stuck and the corridor became known as Peacock Alley. It became a tourist attraction and hundreds of spectators would witness the nightly parade. When the current hotel was opened in 1931, homage was paid to the Peacock Alley and a hallway off the lobby was created in its name. In the 1960s, the first incarnation of Peacock Alley restaurant opened. The recipe for The Peacock follows at the end of this release.
Floyd’s Pub at the Windsor Hotel in Americus, Ga., derives its name from long-time hotel employee Floyd Lowery. At the time the hotel reopened in 1991 after being closed for 20 years, engineers were thrilled to discover an old safe. When opened, however, it did not reveal valuable records or money, but Lowery’s worn-out uniform. To honor Floyd’s forty years of dedicated service as a bellman and hotel operator, the hotel christened it’s newly re-opened bar in his name. Ironically, Floyd Lowery never took a drink.
Timeless and Tasty – Creative Concoctions
Although Kentucky lays claim to being the home of the Mint Julep, The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., makes a strong case for ownership rights. The oldest account book at the resort dates to 1816 and it reveals that guests were ordering “julips” at a cost of twenty-five cents or three for fifty cents. The 1832 journal of well-known Baltimore lawyer John H.B. Latrobe writes, “I saw here for the first time a hailstorm, that is to say, a mint julep made with a hailstorm around it. The drink is manufactured pretty much as usual and well filled with a quantity of ice chopped in small pieces, which is then put in the shape of a fillet around the outside of the tumbler where it adheres like a ring of rock candy and forms an external icy application to your lower lip as you drink it, while the ice within the glass presses against your upper lip. It is nectar, they say, in this part of the country.”
The Muddled Brandy Old Fashioned was the drink of choice at the Old Tap Room for the immigrant factory workers of the Kohler Co. which is now the Horse & Plow at The American Club Resort Hotel in Kohler, Wis. The drink was best made with muddled orange, cherry and lemon twist garnish. Recipe for a Muddled Brandy Old Fashioned follows at the end of this release.
While iced tea may be the official drink of the south, Tar Heel Tea may lay claim to the title in the hearts of certain basketball enthusiasts. The drink was born in 2001 at The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, N.C., as part of a friendly bar competition with the Washington Duke Inn and Golf Course to celebrate the great basketball rivalry between Duke University and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Beneath its gentle appearance, this tea-colored treat packs a slam dunk. Recipe for Tar Heel Tea follows at the end of this release.
The Cave Lounge at The Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, N.H., is a former speakeasy from the era of Prohibition. Today, this cool grotto with granite walls showcases live entertainment.
For almost 30 years, bartender Sam Lek has been serving drinks to journalists, politicians, statesman, celebrities and tourists at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel’s Town and Country Lounge in Washington, D.C. He has developed a loyal following and receives fan mail from all over the world. Sam is revered for his award-winning martinis and delightful sense of humor, as well as his astonishing card tricks and levitation of $20 bills. A refugee from Cambodia, Sam returns there each year to bring food and supplies for villages in need. Recipe for Sam I Am follows at the end of this release.
Michael Vezzoni, a 23-year veteran mixmaster at The Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle, created the Bathtub Gin Martini using Prohibition-era bartending methods. Vezzoni uses a mixture of juniper berries and eleven other botanicals to make the potent libation. Bathtub Gin Martini recipe follows at the end of this release.
Historic Hotels of America is a program of the National Trust for Historic
Preservation. Historic Hotels has identified more than 200 hotels that
have faithfully maintained their historic integrity, architecture and ambiance.
To be selected for this prestigious program, a hotel must be at least 50
years old, listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic
Places or recognized as having historic significance. A directory of member
hotels can be purchased for $4.00 by sending a check to National Trust/HHA,
P.O. Box 320, Washington, D.C. 20055-0320. Rooms at any of the member hotels
can be reserved by visiting www.historichotels.org or by calling 800-678-8946.
Reservations made through Historic Hotels of America support the National
Trust, a non-profit organization of 200,000 members that provides leadership,
education and advocacy to save America's diverse historic places and revitalize
Historic Hotels of America
Aspen Crud – The J-Bar, Hotel Jerome, Aspen, Colo.
Director of Public Relations
|Also See:||Hotel Cleaning 101: Tips from Executive Housekeepers with National Trust Historic Hotels of America / March 2006|