The Hoffman House Hotel (located near Madison Square Park at Broadway and Twenty-second Street) had a celebrated bar in the 1880s and 1890s; the structure was destroyed in 1915 (just before Prohibition). The Hoffman House Cocktail—cited in print since at least 1892—is based on the Martini and contains gin, vermouth and two dashes of bitters.
18 September 1892, New York (NY) Herald, “Appetizing Drinks,” pg. 14, col. 6:
Mr. William Henry Dugay, or “Billy,” as he is known to his intimates, has been one of the “star” bartenders of the Hoffman House for about ten years, and yesterday he let a HERALD reporter into the secret if the great success attending some of his choicest mixtures. He said:—
“The Hoffman House cocktail is a favorite morning beverage with the regular patrons of the hostelry and with no one more so than Mr. Stokes, the proprietor. It is simply made and therefore highly recommended for home manufacture. This is the recipe:—Two dashes of Bonecamp bitters, two dashes of Italian vermouth, sherry glass of Holland gin” no sweetening. Stir in ice until very cold.”
20 April 1935, Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI), “No Foolin’ Now” by Henry McCormick, pg. 7, col. 1:
The famed Sazerac cocktail, made famous in New Orleans, is really the same as an Old Fashioned except that a dash of absinthe is added. Dan, the genial old bartending veteran at the St. Charles hotel, says that the Sazerac didn’t originate in New Orleans although this city is credited with being its birthplace. “I can remember back years ago mixing the same drink and calling it a Hoffman House cocktail after an old bar in New York; later, Sazerac put his name to the drink and made it famous.”
An intoxicating guide to sophisticated drinking : a hands-free step-by-step guide
By David Wondrich
New York, NY: HarperResource
THE HOFFMAN HOUSE HOTEL maintained New York City’s best bar at a time when New York had nothing but great bars. Located at Broadway and Twenty-second Street, across from the tres swank Madison Square (the park, not the hockey venue), it pulled in a strictly A-list clientele until it got hauled down and replaced with an office building. That was in 1915. Their version of the Martini is one of the most suave known to science.
2 OUNCES GIN, PREFERABLY PLYMOUTH
1 OUNCE NOILLY PRAT WHITE VERMOUTH
2 DASHES ORANGE BITTERS
TO FINISH: ORANGE PEEL
Stir and strain into a chileld glass. Twist orange peel over the top.
Wall Street Journal
HOW’S YOUR DRINK
April 5, 2008
Stomping Through the Savoy
By ERIC FELTEN
Perhaps the greatest risk in going through the book cocktail by cocktail is not that one will suffer the occasional vile concoction, but that the endless repetition of drinks that are essentially similar will become tiresome. It would take more patience than I possess to count up how many drinks in the “Savoy Cocktail Book” are made of 2/3 gin, 1/3 dry vermouth and a negligible amount of something else. The Hoffman House Cocktail is one such drink—a 2:1 Martini with 2 dashes of orange bitters. Compare it to the Astoria Cocktail—a 2:1 Martini with 1 dash of orange bitters. I’m all in favor of a precise cocktail nomenclature, but that’s crazy.
December 11, 2008 by erik.ellestad
Hoffman House Cocktail
Hoffman House Cocktail
2 Dashes Orange Bitters. (1 dash Fee’s Orange Bitters, 1 dash Regan’s Orange)
1/3 French Vermouth. (3/4 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth)
2/3 Plymouth Gin. (1 1/2 oz Plymouth Gin)
Shake (stir, please) well and strain into cocktail glass. Squeeze lemon peel on top.
A Jigger of Blog
Hoffman House Cocktail…Sort Of
Posted by: Matt Hamlin | December 16, 2008
I can’t say the olive and orange bitters was the best flavor compliment, even as I rinsed brine off the olive before plunking it into the cocktail. I would have been better served with a lemon twist or even an orange peel. I did a bit of poking around the Cocktail Database and found a couple recipes that were within range of the Hoffman House Cocktail. The Pom Pom Cocktail is basically the same drink, with no garnish. The Astoria has only one dash of orange bitters, but does include the olive. The Racquet Club has 1/4 oz more gin, one dash of bitters and an orange peel. There are also a couple variations with different ratios of gin and vermouth: the Maguerite has 7:3 gin to vermouth, while the Dewey Cocktail has equal parts gin and dry vermouth.