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Grand Old Hotels Take the Bar Exam
The Wall Street Journal ^ | December 6, 2008 | Eric Felten

Posted on 12/06/2008 11:02:23 AM PST by EveningStar

"It's funny what a wonderful gentility you get in the bar of a big hotel," Ernest Hemingway has Jake Barnes say to Brett Ashley in "The Sun Also Rises." They are sipping nice icy Martinis at the bar of the Palace Hotel in Madrid and marveling at the elegant professionalism of bartenders. "Barmen and jockeys are the only people who are polite any more," Brett says, and Jake agrees: "No matter how vulgar a hotel is, the bar is always nice."

If only that were still true. Once upon a time, hotel bars set the standard for sophisticated drinking, with barmen who were the best in the business. Jack Williams, who was the head bartender at Chicago's Palmer House before Prohibition and then at Washington's Mayflower Hotel after repeal, claimed a repertoire of over 3,000 drinks. Nowadays you're lucky to find a hotel bartender whose vocabulary extends very far beyond Vodka-Tonic. Over the past year and a half, as I traveled around the country, I stopped in at dozens of grand old hotels, incognito, to see if their bars lived up to the tradition. I found a few gems in a sea of expensive mediocrity (punctuated with the occasional fiasco).

(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...


TOPICS: Chit/Chat; Food; Society; Travel
KEYWORDS: alcohol; bars; bartending; cocktails; drinks; libertarians

1 posted on 12/06/2008 11:02:23 AM PST by EveningStar
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To: abigail2; al baby; Bella_Bru; BenLurkin; Blue Champagne; Bob J; Brad's Gramma; BurbankKarl; ...

SoCal ping

Has anyone ever been to the Hotel Bel-Air bar in LA?


2 posted on 12/06/2008 11:08:33 AM PST by EveningStar
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To: EveningStar

Anyone been to the bar at the Hotel Coronado? I’d like to know how that measures up, I love the place.


3 posted on 12/06/2008 11:13:18 AM PST by Beowulf9
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To: EveningStar
Only beef I have with hotel bars is they're overpriced. And they're not all that genteel that they are worth the extra money..
4 posted on 12/06/2008 11:15:21 AM PST by hinckley buzzard
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To: EveningStar

Nobody beats the off-season bartender at the Hotel Overlook. The man had a real talent for knowing just what was on your mind. Often times, the drinks were free.


5 posted on 12/06/2008 11:18:10 AM PST by Petronski (For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal. We will know that garden. -- Cdl. Stafford)
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To: hinckley buzzard

I agree.


6 posted on 12/06/2008 11:25:38 AM PST by EveningStar
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To: Petronski

Lloyd, I think his name was.


7 posted on 12/06/2008 11:28:28 AM PST by Petronski (For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal. We will know that garden. -- Cdl. Stafford)
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To: EveningStar

No, but I drove across the front lawn on night....


8 posted on 12/06/2008 11:31:51 AM PST by BurbankKarl
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To: hinckley buzzard

I’ve never seen the type of genteel hotel bartender described in this article. Most hotels I’ve been acquainted with just grab some doofuss off the floor and stick him behind the bar.


9 posted on 12/06/2008 11:34:54 AM PST by EveningStar
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To: EveningStar

This thread reminds me of the movie “Silverado.” There was an “eveningstar” in that movie, wasn’t there? And that guy liked good bars.


10 posted on 12/06/2008 11:41:28 AM PST by Loud Mime (We're not hateful. We respect traditional marriage - which our opponents HATE)
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To: EveningStar

I love old hotels and have had the pleasure of staying at many in my 51.

The old Edgewater and Broadwaters in Biloxi Mississippi

Royal Orleans and Maison DeVille in NOLA

Breakers Palm Beach

Don Cesar St Pete Beach

Raffles Singapore

Penninsula-Mandarin in Hong Kong

Savoy-Connaught-Claridges-Dorchester London

El Esplendido Portofino

Ritz Carillion Paris

Daniel Excelsior in Venice and Ciprianis

Dolder Grande and Bar Au Lac in Zurich

Oriental in Bangkok

Trident Villas, Half Moon in Jamaica

El Prado Baranquilla

Tequendama Bogota

Copacabana in Rio

Hay Adams in DC

Adolphus in Dallas

Red Apple Inn Arkansas

my favorite where I once lived next door, Grand Hotel Point Clear Alabama

Rancho Encantada Santa Fe

Chateau Marmont

Coronado in San Diego

Banff Lodge Alberta

there’s other’s can’t remember now.....the old colonial at Iguacu Falls

everyone should experience some of these old traditional places


11 posted on 12/06/2008 11:42:23 AM PST by wardaddy (Monarchists for Palin 2012)
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To: wardaddy

Trader Vics is my favorite place to get real drinks, even though they’re pricey. Great food and drinks, old-timey kitsch.


12 posted on 12/06/2008 11:51:36 AM PST by Chucky is a girlie man
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To: wardaddy

Quite an impressive list. :)


13 posted on 12/06/2008 12:53:53 PM PST by EveningStar
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To: wardaddy

Red Apple Inn? When we stayed there, it and the entire county was dry dry dry. We had to drive like 40 miles for take out refreshments. Lew


14 posted on 12/06/2008 1:59:03 PM PST by laterldf
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To: EveningStar

I HAVEEEE ES back in da day LOL! my high school prom was there


15 posted on 12/06/2008 2:52:49 PM PST by SevenofNine ("We are Freepers, all your media belong to us, resistence is futile")
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To: EveningStar

No, I’ve never been tossed out of that one. LOL

Haven’t been tossed out of any, for the record.


16 posted on 12/06/2008 3:07:46 PM PST by DoughtyOne (Okay lefties... the problem with wanting something, is that you sometimes get it. Good luck now!)
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To: wardaddy
El Esplendido Portofino

Oh yea

.

17 posted on 12/06/2008 3:14:38 PM PST by Elle Bee
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To: Beowulf9

I’ve been to the Hotel Coronado but not to the bar.


18 posted on 12/06/2008 5:24:43 PM PST by EveningStar
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To: laterldf

you’re right

it was dry

it was my parent’s place....i went there a bit as a boy

i forgot Mohonk in New York


19 posted on 12/06/2008 7:11:59 PM PST by wardaddy (Monarchists for Palin 2012)
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To: EveningStar
I've been to a number of historic hotels, including the Biltmore, in downtown Los Angeles, where a West Coast version of CPAC was held in 1977, and the Ambassador, where I saw Ronald Reagan appear after winning the California primary election in 1976. The restaurant at the Ambassador had good hamburgers.

Historic hotels abroad that I have visited include the Luna, in Venice, where I stayed in 1962. This establishment began as an eatery in the sixteenth century. In 1965, I stayed in the Ritz in Barcelona, which was not as pricey as its name suggests. During the Spanish Civil War, the Republicans' version of the KGB was reportedly headquartered here.

In 1969, I stayed in the Manger Hamilton in Washington, DC, but didn't get around to visiting its Purple Tree bar. This hotel, built in the 1920's on the corner of 14th St. and K St., NW reopened recently after having been closed for several years.

In New York, I stayed at the Pierrepont Hotel in Brooklyn Heights in August of 1961, not knowing at the time that Ramón Mercader had stayed there in 1940 while traveing to Mexico City, where he would assassinate Bolsivik leader Leon Trotsky. The building still exists, but it's no longer a hotel. In 1965 and 1966, I stayed at the New Yorker, a large hotel in midtown Manhattan, and in 1977, I attended the Young Americans For freedom conventiion at the Statler Hilton, the once and future Hotel Pennsylvania, whose telephone number, 212-PEnnsylvania 6-5000 was the title of a 1940 hit song for Glenn Miller (the number still works).

A few years ago, I stopped at the bar in the La Fonda in Santa Fe, NM, where, during World War II, the barkeeper was an FBI agent--on the lookout for spies targeting Manhattan Project activities taking place at nearby Los Alamos.

However, when I travel, I usually stay at Motel 6, since all I'm usually looking for while on the road are the three B's--bed, bath, and Bible.

20 posted on 12/06/2008 7:44:27 PM PST by Fiji Hill
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To: EveningStar

The bar has the most beautiful 1800’s antique bar, in Mahogoney I believe, wing chairs and the most beautiful old grandfather clock I’ve ever seen. It is a lovely secluded spot in the place. Seems like you could really relax in there, and it makes me think they prob serve a good drink.


21 posted on 12/11/2008 9:12:56 AM PST by Beowulf9
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