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New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel—and its most iconic bar, Peacock Alley—has seen the ebbs and flows of tastes and trends, and withstood them by modernizing where needed, but mostly maintaining the storied allure and lore of yesteryear that makes “a classic” eternal. Peacock Alley’s bar manager Frank Caiafa spent over 3 years researching the hotel’s cocktail program—and cocktails in general—to revise the Waldorf Astoria’s bar book that was last published in 1934.
The revised book has over 1,000 recipes: what was hot in the 1930s, to now. Surely a lot has changed since Prohibition—tastes have fluctuated, ingredients have come and gone—but the story is what you know: Everything old is new again.
Here are the most popular drinks by decade, according to Peacock Alley’s bar manager Frank Caiafa:
1930s: Holdovers from Prohibition era—Orange Blossom, Bee's Knees, Champagne Cocktail, and French 75
"These recipes hid the less-than-stellar base spirit or avoided it completely."
1940s: Bloody Mary and Mai Tai
"New favorites that happened to become classics."
1950s: Grasshopper and Brandy Alexander
"Now drinks were trending sweeter."
1960s: Whiskey Sour and Highballs (scotch and soda, gin and tonic)
"After the sweet, drinks trended simpler."
1970s: Piña Colada, Frozen Daiquiri, and other fun group drinks made by batch
1980s: Vodka enhanced with liqueurs and or juices
"Think Blue Whales, Lemon Drops, Red Devils, Alabama Slammers."
1990s: Everything from the 80's, plus Long Island Iced Tea
2000s: Cosmopolitan and Mojito
2010s: Anything brown and stirred
"Everything old is new again."
Tell us: What's your spirit cocktail decade?