Make No Small Plans

Make No Small Plans - Burnham

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I stayed at the Algonquinn on my last trip to's history is awesome!

Hotel traditions

The hotel has a tradition of keeping a cat that has the run of the hotel. The practice dates to the 1930s, when Frank Case took in a stray. Hotel lore says actor John Barrymore suggested the cat needed a theatrical name, so he was called Hamlet. Decades later, whenever the hotel has a male he carries on the name; females are named Matilda. The current Algonquin cat, a Matilda, is a Ragdoll that was named 2006 cat of the year at the Westchester (New York) Cat Show. Visitors can spot Matilda on her personal chaise longue in the lobby; she can also be found in her favorite places: behind the computer on the front desk, or lounging on a baggage cart. The doormen feed her and the general manager's executive assistant answers Matilda's e-mail.[11]

Although the Algonquin was "dry" even before Prohibition (Case closed the hotel bar in 1917[12] and had harsh words for those who ran speakeasies[13]), nevertheless the hotel does have an eponymous cocktail, composed of rye whiskey, Noilly Prat and pineapple juice.[14] More recently, a newer drink has hit the Algonquin's menu, the "Martini on the Rock," consisting of a martini of the buyer's choice with a single piece of "ice," a diamond, at the bottom of the glass.[15] Hoy Wong is a notable bartender at the hotel and is the oldest person to hold such a position in the state, still serving aged 90 in 2006.

In keeping with Frank Case's long-standing tradition of sending popovers and celery to the more impoverished members of the Round Table, the Algonquin offers lunch discounts to struggling writers.[8] Formerly, writers on tour could stay one night at the hotel free in exchange for an autographed copy of their book[16] although the practice has been amended to include a discount on standard room rates.

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