Of Bars, Booze, and Bartending - Proving "Coughlin's Law" Invalid Since Feb '05

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A Toast To Hoy Wong, New York's Oldest Bartender

This article really made me smile this afternoon:

New York's oldest bartender still mixing martinis at 90

Retirement is the last thing on Hoy Wong's mind. The New York bartender, who turned 90, plans to carry on mixing martinis just as he has done for the past six decades.

It was while working in Freeman Chum, considered one of the city's first chichi Chinese restaurants, that he served most of his celebrity clients.

Marilyn Monroe, he remembers, would come to the restaurant for a liquid lunch. "She would have a Beefeater Martini. She was very nice."

Judy Garland, he recalls, was also fond of a tipple: "She was lovely. She liked to drink. She liked it a lot."

Joe Di Maggio would come every Saturday night and sit in a corner. "He would drink Johnny Red and soda, sit for four, five hours. He didn't want to be bothered."

John Lennon and Henry Kissinger would both come to the Algonquin Hotel, his employer for the past 27 years, and shared a taste for Scotch, he adds.

What I wouldn't give to have John Lennon, Joe DiMaggio and Judy Garland (Queen of the Boozy, I'll bet she was a hoot) perched on barstools before me. Henry Kissinger, not so much... but can you imagine eavesdropping on a conversation between him and Lennon?

Six decades of mixing martinis and Manhattans in... well, Manhattan! What a life, and what stories he could tell. I wonder if I could beat his longevity record behind the bar... probably not, since I made a personal vow to myself years ago that I'd quit this job when my looks start to fade. Heh...

Cheers, Hoy Wong!! And thanks for helping me to remember the word "tipple," which I think deserves a comeback.

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