Cocktail of the Hour: the Algonquin

Photo c/o Mike Tobey-McKenzie Sometimes the most interesting lore about a cocktail only tangentially relates to the drink itself. Such is the case with the Algonquin. Named for its supposed birthplace, New York City's Algonquin Hotel, this Prohibition era drink is more famous for its proximity to fame and wit.

During Prohibition, the Algonquin played host to a daily luncheon of the era's intelligentsia. Called the Algonquin Round Table, this midday meeting of minds was attended by poet and critic Dorothy Parker, New Yorker magazine founder Harold Ross and others including Harpo Marx. However, most of the Round Table's members were avowed highball drinkers, so it's unlikely they ever consumed a drink named after their group.

Interestingly, several 1920s drinks were named Algonquin in a bid to cash in on the action. Save this whiskey-based beverage, no others survived to modernity. According to some sources, another contender involved Bénédictine, blackberry brandy and rum. I'll pass.

Taste-wise, the Algonquin has a bit of a bite from the rye that helps to ease the first chill of fall. The whiskey also adds spicy notes balanced by the dryness of the vermouth, and the taste is rounded out by the tartness and sweetness of the pineapple juice.


2 dashes orange bitters

1 oz unsweetened pineapple juice

1 oz dry vermouth

2 oz rye whiskey

Combine ingredients and shake for 10-12 seconds or until combined. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.