The Algonquin: No Sirree!

A classic that’s leave-it-on-the-kitchen-counter-when-the-host-isn’t-looking bad.

Algonquin cocktail review Craig Stoltz
Three people walk into an elevator at the Algonquin hotel. One of them farts.

I’m generally no bellyacher. But in my blunderings through cocktail literature I just surfaced a real stinker, and feel compelled to sound  an amicus alarm.

The decoction I refer to is the Algonquin cocktail, which shows up on diligent lists of American Classics — A sip of history! A brush with greatness! Etc. Etc. Etc.

The drink is named after the venerable New York hotel where a group of early 20th century literati famously assembled at the restaurant’s “Round Table.”

Most members of the “Vicious Circle” were hotshot columnists, critics, editors, and writers [Alexander Woollcott, Dorothy Parker, Harold Ross], with a few playwrights and, on a good day, Harpo Marx. 

Their chief accomplishment, beyond self-amusement, appears to have been making generations of English majors feel like losers because they didn’t have friends or fun like that.

Anyhow: According to cocktail historian David Wondrich, it’s unlikely that any of them actually drank the Algonquin, at least in part because their lunches were scheduled during, um, Prohibition.

Lucky for them, I say.

The Algonquin is a rye drink backed by dry vermouth and…pineapple juice.

What

  • 1.5 oz rye
    • I used Bulleit. Cheap. Versatile. 
  • .75 oz dry vermouth
    • Dolin
  • .75 oz pineapple juice
    • I bought a bunch of fresh chunk pineapple and juiced it up. A cheat, but who’s got the time to disembowel a pineapple for uncertain results?

How

  • Stir, strain.
  • Don’t garnish. You’ll only encourage it.

Tasting notes

I have no idea what’s supposed to be going on here. It’s not an okay drink, or a forgettable one. It’s leave-it-on-the-kitchen-counter-when-the-host-isn’t-looking bad.

The rye disappears behind the fruit. The vermouth doesn’t complement — or compliment — the other ingredients, it just sort of lingers uncomfortably, like the guest nobody will talk to.

The Algonquin is an incomplete Perfect Manhattan with a timeshare in Waikiki. It’s an idea for a tiki drink that wandered into the library by mistake.   

It’s three strangers stepping into the Algonquin hotel elevator, and one of them farts.

No Sirree! I say

The smart set at the Round Table once got themselves together to produce a theatrical revue, titled No Sirree! It was a spectacular failure.

I hereby officially re-name the Algonquin the “No Sirree!

Author: Craig Stoltz

Cocktail enthusiast with no professional standing, former Time.com Top 25 blogger, and ex-Washington Post editor. I live in Bethesda, Maryland.

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