The History Of The Ampersand Cocktail.
You may not have heard of the Ampersand Cocktail, and that’s not surprising. The Ampersand recipe only appears in the 1935 Old Waldorf-Astoria bar book. The Ampersand was most likely invented at the Waldorf and never spread beyond their bar. By the time they printed the recipe in 1935, the key ingredient, old tom gin, had already been discontinued by Haymans. Without one of the key ingredients, the Ampersand faded from knowledge, which is unfortunate because this drink is pretty awesome. Interest in old tom gin cocktails resurged once Haymans began producing old tom gin again in 2007. Other gin manufacturers also made limited runs of old tom style gin for a bit. Still, Hayman’s is the originator and currently the only manufacturer constantly producing this style of gin. With old tom around again, the Ampersand cocktail was rediscovered and is definitely a top-tier cocktail.
The History Of The Original Waldorf-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 a little bit bigger than William’s Waldorf Hotel. Named after the town of Astoria, Oregon, The city 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, starring 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 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 hotel’s image 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 constructing 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 hotel’s bar, the company’s publicist, Albert Crockett, managed to collect and publish most of the bar’s 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 hotel’s old days.