Sadly, the iconic Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan, perhaps my favorite all time hotel closes on March 1, 2017, without a clear word on when it may re-open.
Staying there a month ago, I had to buy the hotel’s legendary book of cocktails by Frank Caiafa, compiled or created for the Waldorf by him and first published in 1934–surprisingly or not only 1 year after the end of Prohibition.
Caiafa was the manager of the hotel’s famed Peacock Alley bar, a bar which has played host to many of the most famous, wealthy, and powerful men and women of the 20th century.
The cocktails are classics. The book is arranged to highlight types of cocktails (and features many of the Waldorf’s own creations) but is equipped with an easy-to-use alphabetical guide.
(Yes, this is the Waldorf that gave rise to “Waldorf Salad,” a concoction I despised until I had the Waldorf’s version which is not bathed in mayonnaise and at the Waldorf features a musky undertone of truffle oil).
Many of the cocktails feature bitters which surprisingly disappeared from cocktails for many years and are now making a resurgence thanks to the craft cocktail movement. This is a must-have book for any serious bartender and a handy source of information for the novice. Oh–and there is a section on making one’s own bitters as well.
I will be making the 1860 Manhattan, the Paloma, the Zaza, and so many more somewhat wistfully. I have many fond memories of the grand-yet-accessible Waldorf Astoria.