The Waldorf Astoria’s new bar book celebrates the hotel's legendary cocktail culture...one recipe at a time.
Sad news filtered out this summer that New York’s storied Waldorf Astoria Hotel will be closed next year for renovations that will transform it into a condo-hotel complex. Happier by far: the release of Frank Caiafa’s The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book (Penguin Books; $25), which along with Cole Porter’s “You’re the Top” (written there) and Veal Oscar (invented there) counts among the hotel’s cultural legacies.
The Waldorf has long been a place for celebs to clink glasses and rub their pretty elbows—Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, and Imelda Marcos were all residents—but Caiafa focuses on the mixological superstars. As bar manager at the hotel’s Peacock Alley restaurant/lounge, he brings together recipes from old Waldorf bar books—adapting them to current tastes—with ones he concocted for Peacock Alley and found in a smattering of other sources.
Each recipe is garnished with an absorbing tidbit of cocktail lore, and many are accompanied by inventive variations: The Manhattan has five versions, from the simple pleasures of the Junior (equal parts rye and sweet vermouth) to the pro touch of the Perfect (rye, sweet and dry vermouths, orange bitters). How fitting that the historic hotel—itself the birthplace of classic sips like the Rob Roy—should just now be honored by this celebration of what Caiafa calls “the second golden age” of cocktail culture.