History Of The Original Waldorf and Astoria Hotel
The original Waldorf Hotel was opened in 1893 by William Waldorf Astor of New York. Named after the town of Waldorf, Germany, the Astor Families ancestral home, the Waldorf was the apex of luxury New York hotels at its opening. A few years later in 1897, as a bit of humorous rivalry William’s cousin, John Jacob Astor IV, would open the Astoria Hotel right across the street. John built the Astoria in the same renaissance revival style and even commissioned the same architect, but made sure to make his hotel just a little bit bigger than William’s Waldorf Hotel. Named after the town of Astoria, Oregon, The town founded by John Jacob Astor senior in 1811, the Astoria Hotel was an even more beautiful version of the Waldorf. Fun facts: Astoria, Oregon is the oldest American settlement west of the Rocky Mountains, and the location of the film Kindergartner Cop staring the great Arnold Schwarzenegger. Also John Jacob Astor IV, helped develop early versions of the turbine engine, wrote sci-fi books, and was one of the most famous Americans to perish with the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.
The rivalry was short lived though and the two hotels joined together almost immediately forming the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in 1897. Opened on the Waldorf side of the hotel the Waldorf-Astoria bar was one of the top bars in New York serving to wealthy socialites. From 1897 to 1919 the Waldorf-Astoria bar stood as a testament to the pre-prohibition elite bar scene and helped solidify many of the American classics we know today. With the closing of the bar in 1919 and many of the New York elites moving further north the image of the hotel became dated and its current structure and location needed to change too. In 1929 the company sold its hotel on 5th and 34th to Empire State Inc. and began construction of the more modern Waldorf-Astoria on Park Avenue. The Original hotel was demolished and replaced by the Empire State Building. Hoping to preserve the legacy of the original bar, the companies publicist, Albert Crockett, managed to collect and publish most of the bars classic cocktail recipes in part IV section A of “The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book”. He added popular present day (1934) cocktails in Section B, but maintained that section A of the book had all the original recipes from the old days of the Hotel.
What does the Astoria Taste like
Very similar to old style martini the Astoria is lightly sweet and herbal with subtle orange oil flavors. It’s an absolutely amazing drink. The sweetness of the Old Tom gin pair perfectly with the dry vermouth (better than dry gin in my opinion) and really does have an old time feel to it. If you’re looking to taste some history then the Astoria is one you should try.
The Most Important Part
The most important part of making the Astoria is not to mix in a mixing glass with ice too long. Ice cold cocktails are nice but there is a sweet spot of chill and dilution. Ice from a freezer is typically 0°F (-18°C) and a cocktail at this ABV will maybe freeze around -10°F. So it will absorb as much melted water and coldness as you’re willing to stir it for. If its too cold and diluted with melted water it will taste flat and the intense chill will conceal the full taste from your tongue. Although if it has too little water and is warm, the flavors won’t open up and it won’t be crisp. It’s about finding balance and the ingredients sweet spot for dilution and chill. For a drink like this try around 10-15 seconds and adjust more or less depending on the taste. The ingredients are pretty straightforward and simple enough to combine, but it’s a matter of how they are combined.