Sidecars, Cosmos and Harvey Wallbangers: Drinking Up Eight Decades of Cocktails at The Barclay

Sounds like a riff on Long Island Iced Tea, ie mix ½ ounce of everything. But instead of a single drink we’re discussing one from each decade from the 1920s through the 1990s.

This summer the bar at the Barclay Intercontinental New York is serving up a Decades Cocktail Hour, weekdays from 5 pm to 8 pm.

Mondays celebrate the 1920s (Sidecar) and 1930s (French 75). Tuesdays relive the 1940s (Bellini) and 1950s (Harvey Wallbanger). Wednesday, the 1960s, is Vodka Martini night. Thursdays salute the 1970s with Caiparinhas. Fridays usher in the 1980s (Tequila Sunrise) and the 1990s (Cosmopolitan). At $8 a drink, pricing is retro, too, at least for a New York hotel bar.

Intrigued by the package – each night features an era-appropriate sound track and video – I showed up with a friend on a recent Thursday. As Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” pulsated, we found a corner table with a good view of the screen. Wood-paneled and dark, the comfortable but brazenly un-trendy Barclay bar is era-neutral. But a terrific 30-minute loop by filmmaker Cary Kehayan whisked us to the 70s. Brim Coffee! Alphabits! Dodge Chargers! Halston! Van Morrison crooned “Moon Dance.” Diana Ross cooed “Upside Down.” Our server appeared, and we imagined him with bush hair and bell bottoms.

We ordered a Caiparinha but got a Manhattan. Huh? (“We’re doing Manhattans tonight,” the server told us.) No complaints. We like Manhattans. My companion, who had planned to have a beer, ordered one, too. Still, we missed the liquid disco vibe.

Turns out the Manhattan is a drink of the 70s – the 1870s. As the story (likely apocryphal) goes, it was invented at New York’s Manhattan Club for a banquet hosted by Jennie Jerome, mother of Winston Churchill. I’d bet Jennie Jerome, the Bianca Jagger of her day, would have loved the 1970s. That’s probably not what the Barclay had in mind, but hey, time travel isn’t an exact science. My Manhattan, by the way, was sweet but potent.




2 replies
  1. Brad
    Brad says:

    I dropped by one recent evening as well. Good drinks and the videos are artsy time-travel indeed. . . . Jennie Jerome, the Bianca Jagger of her day — nice touch.


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