The Chatham Hotel Special cocktail was created in the mid-twentieth century by the mixologists at the Chatham Hotel bar. Although the hotel was destroyed long ago, it once stood between East 48th and East 49th street and faced Lexington Avenue in New York City. From the cocktails composition, it is clear that this obscure libation would have been served as a dessert cocktail at the end of a meal or evening.
While the both the hotel and its namesake cocktail aren’t famous, a couple of notable culinary items were invented here. The first being the Moscow Mule cocktail (vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice) which was created by bar patrons Jake Morgan, John G. Martin, and Pierre Smirnoff. The three came up with the idea for the drink while trying to solve the problem of an overstock of their ginger beer and the introduction of vodka into the U.S. market. Their answer was to combine the two and use it as a sales tool for both liquid products. The other less notable item was invented in the hotel’s restaurant, Divan Parisienne. Their signature dish, Chicken Divan (a casserole dish of chicken, broccoli, almonds, and bechamel sauce), has since become a staple of American cuisine. For good or bad, who can say?
But, as usual I’ve gotten off topic. Back to the Chatham Hotel Special. The resulting combination of the cocktails ingredients produced a lovely light pink concoction (although the cocktail book’s was beige) with a scent reminiscent of fine chocolate covered cherries. The taste however was more of whipped prunes rather than brandied cherries with chocolate. While this wasn’t unpleasant, it wasn’t a cocktail that I would commonly want to make or drink. Based on the final product, I can see why this cocktail has remained forgotten and not part of the recent hand-crafted cocktail interest in vintage libations.
Chatham Hotel Special
1 1/2 oz brandy
1/2 oz ruby port
1/2 oz cream
1 dash dark creme de cacao
Combine all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass.