Where would we be without hotel bars? Not only would we have nowhere to seek respite after a long flight or day of museuming, but we also wouldn’t have many of our favorite classic cocktails. Here, the best drinks to emerge from hotel bars.
New Orleans, LA
Bartender Walter Bergeron created this quintessential New Orleans cocktail in the 1930s at the Hotel Monteleone’s Carousel Bar. Soon after its invention, the whiskey and cognac cocktail became one of the city’s official drinks when it was published in the 1937 cocktail manual, Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix 'Em
In the early 20th century, the Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore was a watering hole for the elite. Sadly, local etiquette frowned upon women drinking alcohol, so the ladies in the group were unable to partake in the bar’s delicious drinks. Bartender Ngiam Tong Boon set out to right this wrong by disguising booze as non-alcoholic juice, and in the process invented the national drink of Singapore, fit for men and women alike.
Martini at the Knickerbocker
New York, NY
While origin stories abound, the Martini’s most entertaining creation myth comes from the historic Knickerbocker hotel in New York. John D. Rockefeller was a regular at the Knick’s bar, and legend has it in 1912 the oil baron requested a brand new cocktail from the bartender, who stirred up the world’s first Martini.
Black Russian at Hotel Metropole
Barman Gustave Tops of the Hotel Metropole invented the Black Russian, a buzzy mix of vodka and coffee liqueur (and progenitor of the White Russian
), in honor of an American, Perle Mesta. Officially, Mesta was the ambassador to Luxembourg, but unofficially, she was the best party hostess in all of Europe—known for throwing extravagant parties for her fellow diplomats, American presidents, celebrities and other members of the upper crust.
Red Snapper at the St. Regis
New York, NY
The King Cole Bar at the St. Regis isn’t responsible for the original Bloody Mary
recipe, but it did help bring the brunch drink to American soil. When Fernand Petiot, one of several Parisian bartenders who claimed to have invented the Bloody Mary in the 1920s, moved to New York in 1934 and started working at the St. Regis, he wanted to offer his Bloody Mary on the menu. But the Astor family, the hotel’s owners, said the name was much too crass for their class of clientele. So Petiot changed the name to the much less gory Red Snapper and an American brunch obsession was born.
El Nacional at the Hotel Nacional
The El Nacional (or Hotel Nacional de Cuba or Hotel Nacional Special or National) is a take on a Daiquiri
, invented at the iconic Hotel Nacional in Havana in the 1930s. In addition to rum and lime juice, the recipe calls for pineapple juice and a hit of apricot brandy
The Hemingway Bar at the Hotel Ritz claims to have invented two landmark cocktails. One was the Sidecar, which could also have been invented at Harry’s New York Bar, and the other was the Mimosa. The Ritz’s Mimosa was, essentially, a less boozy take on a Buck’s Fizz that called for equal parts Champagne and orange juice. The hotel claims to have given this now famous variation its name, which was inspired by the color of the mimosa flower.
Corpse Reviver #2 and White Lady at The Savoy
While the White Lady’s origins are disputed, the Corpse Reviver #2 belongs wholly to Harry Craddock of The Savoy hotel’s American Bar. Craddock advised drinkers to drink the variation before 11 a.m., “or whenever steam and energy are needed.” Even if Craddock didn’t invent both drinks, he certainly helped spread their fame when he published recipes for the cocktails in The Savoy Cocktail Book
Rob Roy at the Waldorf Astoria
New York, NY
Long before fast food chains offered movie tie-ins, bars were creating custom drinks for new musicals and shows. The Waldorf Astoria created the Rob Roy cocktail in 1894 to celebrate the opening of the operetta of the same name. The drink is a variation on a Manhattan
, which swaps out rye for scotch
in honor of the operetta’s Scottish hero.