The Algonquin Hotel is one of New York City’s most storie hotels, full of quirky traditions it protects with pride. It was home to the famous literary circle The Round Table, which included Dorothy Parker, Noël Coward, Harpo Marx, George and Beatrice Kaufman, and Tallulah Bankhead as members, and you can still sit at the literal round table. It has been the abode of a resident hotel cat since the 1920s, currently an orange tabby stray named Hamlet (the seventh of his name) and there’s an annual cat fashion show for charity. But one of the more extravagant traditions at The Algonquin Hotel is the $10,000 Martini, also known as the “Martini on the Rock.”
Ordering the $10,000 martini is not quite so simple as simply walking up to the bar. It first requires 72-hour advance notice pre-order and then a visit to the hotel’s in-house jeweler, Bader & Garrin, to pick your preferred diamond (and setting if desired). The martini is then served in the hotel’s Blue Bar, so named because at the end of Prohibition in 1933 when the bar re-opened, actor John Barrymore convinced the general manager at the time add blue gel over the lights. According to the hotel, Barrymore “always thought one looks more attractive under such lighting.” And adding to another hotel tradition, The Blue Bar has in the hotel ever since.
Inside the Algonquin Hotel’s Blue Bar, which is very blue.
The $10,000 martini has a more recent history, steeped within the historic bar and hotel. In 2005, following a $3 million renovation, The Algonquin Hotel introduced the cocktail, created by Carla Caccavale from the Quinn Agency and Anthony Melchiorri the hotel’s general manager, as a way to make a splash for the re-opening. The first $10,000 martini was ordered by young man who proposed to his girlfriend with the drink. “When all was said and done, the proposal cost almost $13,000,” according to the hotel. The same year, NPR reported on a certain John Ridley who also ordered the drink, opting for James Bond’s martini of choice, the Vesper. Ridley sold the diamond for $7,000 and with a $1,000 donation from The Algonquin Hotel, donated the proceeds to charities that support returning military service members and their families.
We asked The Algonquin Hotel is they have an idea of how frequent the drink is ordered. The response was that they don’t keep a record, but that “it is a pretty rare occurrence.” Still, you will always find the drink available on The Round Table menu, where it has become one of the hotel’s newer traditions.
Next, check out The Top 10 Secrets of the Algonquin Hotel. Check out the feline fashionistas from the recent Algonquin Hotel Cat Fashion Show!