03 June 2010

Poplin in the Algonquin









I had my first NYC martini at the Algonquin in 1984. Mr Hoy served it to me shaken ice cold and up with olives. I had come from my first NYC job interview at 20th Century Fox and my optimism made up for the fact I could barely afford the drink. So I had two. It was 3:30 and the bar was empty so Mr. Hoy and I told each other lies about our time in the Army. He was a wonderful man I'll never forget.

In the 90s, the Algonquin was my hotel of choice when I visited NYC from Chicago. It was cheap and thread bare but I loved it. I was sitting at the bar one afternoon when I heard this unmistakable laugh behind me. I turned to see Charles Nelson Reilly in a crunched up khaki hat and madras shirt holding court with a couple suits. I told Mr. Hoy I would be right back.

I Walked across 44th Street to a pay phone and called a buddy. "Is Charles Nelson Reilly still alive?" "Yep, " he said. "I'll be damned." I said and walked back to my drink. Sitting at the bar I eavesdropped and discovered Charles was directing a play. I asked Mr Hoy if he ever saw The Ghost and Mrs Muir. He had not. Not surprising for a man who tended bar nights. I should have mentioned Match Game.

Many owners and refurbishings later there's still something about the place I find soulful and real. Certainly there's the, "If these walls could talk..." thing going on. But the Algonquin stands proudly on her history... and some of that history is now my history.

19 comments:

Ryan said...

A liberal is someone you'd call Mr. President

M.Lane said...

I have always wanted to drink/dine there but I never make it when in town. I tend to become a victim of inertia at other watering holes...

ML
mlanesepic.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

victorian dance hall?

Anonymous said...

hey sunshine what's the hotel with the murals?

Steve said...

I also happened to overhear the unmistakable laugh of Charles Nelson Reilly at a hotel. But it was 180 degrees from the Algonquin. It was some middling motel in Orlando, Fl, circa 1971. Charles was sitting at the table next to us with a group, holding forth. Even at my tender age, I wondered what dire circumstances had led him to be our neighbor in this very humble (Holiday Inn?) motor court dining room. It was my second brush, more of a wisp really, with celebrity. The first being a return wave from Robert Mitchum, who was filming a movie in the town I grew up in.

tintin said...

Ryan- I wish he was a liberal.

M Lane- Next time you're in town.

Anon- You're on double secret probation.

Sunshine- The Warwick. It's prefect for you.

LPC said...

My father always used to stay here. I wonder what made him move on. As for murals, are you sure Sunshine doesn't mean the King Cole room in what is now the St. Regis? Myself, I now prefer the Crosby Street Hotel. Soho and all that.

The Sluice Box said...

The one time I was in The Algonquin was in the early 90s. At that time it seemed the hotel management had forgotten its heritage and was oblivious to its mystique. I tried hard to find evidence of past glories, but it wasn't particularly apparent back then.

Anonymous said...

Funny that they attribute that quote to Dorothy Parker. It's generally attributed to Heywood Broun another member of the round table, and a socialist.

Cocktail Zero said...

Hi Tintin,

This one's for you: Parkers at the Algonquin

I heart the Algonquin.

-c0

brohammas said...

so did ya get the job?

TRVS said...

Just the name evokes fabulous Great Gatsby~esque dresses & long (10 year?) martini soaked lunches...sigh...the next time I'm in NY I must insist upon this stop. You look a bit Gatsby~esque in that white poplin suit, well done.

(ps~regarding your question @ reviews/movies: both have been known to make me blush)

Brummagem Joe said...

......Something of a favorite of mine although the hotel has been through it's ups and downs over the year......for drinks I usually prefer their blue bar.....the regular bar area in the hotel is bit too hotel-ish.....after you sang the virtues of the sidecar I tried one there the next time I was in and was a bit disappointed although a lady who was with me had one and it knocked her over (literally)......however they make a mean martini which is my usual

Those Tricks said...

Whoa!!
Is that an actual glimpse of The Trad, HIMSELF, in the mirror?!

Algonquin is great.
Went there a few times when I lived in NYC.

TRVS said...

A gift for you:

For Tin Tin: The Friday Belt

Anonymous said...

Was in the Algonquin this week for the first time in a few years. I love that place, but oh dear, the lobby bar redecoration is very sad. Like Rooms To Go did a Dorothy Parker theme set. At least the murals are still there, and the cocktails and the company were good.

tintin said...

LPC- There is something about a small hotel I love. A favorite is Blakes in London. Stayed there early in my London travels and during the Gulf War they reduced rooms by half. I don't know Crosby but took a look at it on line and it reminds me of Blakes. I'll have to swing by for their Sunday Movie Night.

Sluice- I loved the Algonquin when it was $150 a night and they always upgraded me to a suite with free fruit and a decanter of cheap port. The upgrades caused me to defect for a while to the NY Athletic Club where I often enjoyed dinner and drinks that I never got billed for. Not that they were comp'ed but because they were incompetent. It was like a contest. Will I win a free dinner or not? It always made checking out a lot more interesting.

Anon- I'm a democrat border line socialist and I always leave rooms when a fight breaks out. I have a 32" sleeve length which never does well with folks throwing punches.

Cocktail Zero- Thank you. That's a great idea for a blog. I haven't had a cocktail at the Algonquin since Mt Hoy left. Most of 'em are $18 now. But a beer is $7 and so far they haven't screwed my beer up.

brohammas- Nope. That's another story...

TRVS- That's a khaki poplin but it is hard to tell. My movies make you blush? Everything about this blog should make women blush.

Joe- Hey there. I was usually at the Blue Bar as well but I like the lobby when I'm alone. More of a show. The sidecar is a big reason I went on the wagon for a while and I haven't been back. Too much too soon.

Tricks- That's my little brother. I'm in much better shape.

TRVS- That's wonderful. I understand HBC still imports that scotch to the states. A hunting I will go.

Anon- It's all relative. Based on the Spanish Moorish crap that the southeast seems to be chocking on everywhere the Algonquine ain't that bad at all. But I hear you. Looks like they're trying way too hard.

Michael Rowe said...

I don't know what I love more: this hotel, or the fact that we both have this suit and have worn it there.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful stuff. I too love the Algonquin, my family at one time owned the establishment for many years. I dare say back in the hey-day. I truly appreciate your online work here at your site and blog. I just looked through the page concerning the museum Ivy Style collection. Everything is superbly done. Thank you for all the wonderful photographs that accompanies your splendid prose. I do hope to be back East one of these days. I would easily spend time at the Algonquin or the St. Moritz while visiting the City. I do hope to eventually return for good to New England. My mother plans to retire at her house in Eastern Connecticut and I think that's just perfect. I too am a descendant of a number of founders, My immigrants are the 2 William Carpenters, the one who founded Rhode Island with Roger Williams and his father-in-law William Arnold, the other was the Captain, who is immortalized as the Captain of the family of heroes. Joseph Carpenter, 1st son of William Carpenter and Elizabeth Arnold married Hannah, yougnest dau. of Capt. Willaim C. and Abigail Briant I believe. I'm interested in joining the New England founders after having taken note of the seal on your page. Thank you very much and have an enjoyable weekend.
Yours,
Jason Carpenter