Archive for the ‘Classic Cocktails’ Category

This post- on a restaurant I’ve never been to, on the total opposite side of the country- began with a less than satisfying visit to a diner (I won’t get into it but will just say it wasn’t Retro Roadmap-worthy). As I drove away with a weight in my tummy, I began to question myself, “What IS Retro Roadmap worthy? Exterior? Interior? Food? Ambiance? Why do some places make the cut, and others don’t cut it?”

As I was trying to articulate this in my head, to myself, a story came on the radio about Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood California. The restaurant has just had its 90th birthday and is going stronger than ever (you can listen to the story yourself, on NPR right here )

(thanks to daisylind  on flickr for the use of her fabulous photo!)

Suddenly I was hearing phrases like:

Musso’s has thrived by remaining faithful to its traditions.

Step into this red leather and mahogany interior, and you step into another world, another era.

You walk into Musso’s, and it embraces you. Musso’s is historical serenity.

It was then I realized that I was hearing some of the definitions of Retro Roadmap worthiness coming out of my very own car radio, as if a voice from another sphere knew what I wanted to hear!

I  knew at that moment I had to get on the Retro Roadmap hotline to our West Coast Correspondent Anna B, who has been a fan of “Musso’s” since she has lived in L.A. From her new digs in San Fran she was kind enough to articulate in her own way what makes this place so wonderful: (more…)


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On the way from Mass to Penna over the holidays Retro Roadhusband and I were heading to an off Broadway show until traffic literally put a halt to those plans. We were already practically IN New York City, and couldn’t turn around if we tried, so we decided to make the best of it. After insane traffic, aggravating parking and the stress and disappointment of missing the show, this is where we ended up:

Waldorf - Astoria Hotel NYC

The Waldorf – Astoria Hotel, on Park Avenue in New York City. No, we couldn’t stay there, but check the place out and perhaps belly up to an elegant bar? Yep, few things turns my frown upside down better than a classic cocktail at a classic haunt.

This location of The Waldorf was built in 1931, when the original hotel had to make way for something called The Empire State Building. It is a grand place, with an art deco exterior and  old fashioned opulence


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I can’t wait to head up to Boston for my 2nd LUPEC (Ladies United to Preserve Endangered Cocktails!) fundraiser, and this one is definitely Retro Roadmap worthy!

The LUPEC BOSTON “TIKI BASH” will pay tribute to the 1950’s theme with of-the-era cocktails, Tiki cocktail demonstrations by some of Boston’s best bartenders, and live entertainment including acts by Thru the Keyhole Burlesque, Boston-based ukulele sensation Uke Springsteen, and other Island-themed acts. DJ Brother Cleve ( Combustible Edison member and Retro Roadmap fan !!), a Boston institution, will spin ’50s-era music throughout the evening between sets.

This is LUPEC Boston’s third annual fall fundraising event. This year’s beneficiary is On the Rise, a Cambridge-based non-profit that supports the initiative and strength of women living in crisis or homelessness.

I first learned about LUPEC when I was doing research for my, well let’s just call it a significant number birthday, that we were spending in Pittsburgh. I found a post about a place called the Suburban Room by a group called LUPEC and proceeded to read notes from a meeting of gals who ordered classic cocktails and described them and the fun going on. (The Suburban Room was totally Retro Roadmap-worthy, but alas when we got out there it had just been turned into a generic bar. Sigh, it had great green vitrolite walls and brushed aluminum signage). I was smitten from the get-go and am very proud of my home town chapter of LUPEC gals, as they’re doing it right!

Retro RoadSister and I went to last year’s 1940’s themed USO show fundraiser, and the lovely ladies of LUPEC sure know how to throw a fun party. The building itself is a bit of history too, a 400+ capacity performance art space located in the renovated First Lutheran Church built in 1898.

Join us this year won’t you? I’ll be the one in the muumuu!

LUPEC Boston Tiki Bash Fundraiser
85 West Newton Street
South End, Boston, MA 02118

See the LUPEC Tiki Bash on the Retro Roadmap!

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Still saddened by the loss of Les Paul earlier today, I wanted to quickly remind the Retro Roadmap community about another 94 year old who is still performing music 6 nights a week in New York City. I’m talking about none other than pianist/songwriter Irving Fields who we had the pleasure of listening to and meeting with on my birthday last Friday.

As his website notes:

Trained in the prime years of Tin Pan Alley and immersed in the classic American popular music of the pre-World War II era, IRVING FIELDS is simply one of the last of a truly special generation who continues to perform to this day.

And indeed this is true! Every night but Mondays you can find him behind the piano at Nino’s Tuscany, as we did. We arrived early on a Friday (since the Retro Roadhusband actually had a gig of his own later that evening) to find Irving getting the star treatment with a photoshoot for an article for NYCgo Magazine which you can read here.

Irving Fields is ready for his closeup

(Side note: as you have probably noticed if you’ve read some of the posts here on Retro Roadmap, I don’t tend to take photos with people in them, and this stems from the fact that I personally don’t like to be in front of the camera. However some of the photos of Irving from our visit have me in them, so it’s a rare appearance I make here on my own website!)

Since it was so early we were lucky enough to have him practically to ourselves, so we sat at the bar, ordered a classic cocktail and became enraptured with his take on the American Songbook Standards that I love so much.


Nino's Tuscany NYC

During the first break he came over to greet us, and my husband was kind enough to drop the hint that it was my birthday. Well Irving could not have been more delightful! He perked right up and said, ” I’m going to write a song for you on your birthday!” While I was charmed by the offer, I told him that was not necessary, but if he knew any Cole Porter I’d be happy just to hear that.

He returned to his piano, took out his fountain pen and began to jot some notes down. We then got chatting with the photographer from the shoot (Malcolm Brown) and I was delighted to hear some of my very favorite Porter tunes coming from Irving. I raised my glass to him in thanks and he gave me a winning smile.
Soon after he came over, paper in hand and SANG THE SONG HE WROTE FOR ME, TO ME!!! I was so touched.

A Song Is Born!

He then gave me the lyrics to keep, and walking home I felt like Zuzu in It’s a Wonderful Life, protecting my precious gift with my life.

Mod Betty and her Birthday Song

I was ready to spend the rest of the evening there, but we had to head downtown to meet friends at the gig. We promised Irving we’d be back soon and bring friends- won’t you come along with us the next time we visit?

Our Evening With Irving

Irving Fields at Nino’s Tuscany
117 W 58th St
New York, NY 10019-1557
(212) 757-8630

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From our New York bureau, ace reporter Suzanne Sullivan McGillicuddy has sent us a few of her NY faves. Thanks Suzanne!

This is my favorite dive bar in New York – located in Hell’s Kitchen.  It opened in 1933 – not long after Prohibition had ended.  Don’t let the “grill” in the title fool you…there’s no menu or grill, but they do always offer free hotdogs and cheap beer.

Although some marketers are now trying to call the neighborhood “Clinton” – it will always be Hell’s Kitchen to me.  Picture the Sharks and the Jets dancing between the buildings – parts of the neighborhood haven’t changed at all despite the “Disneyfication” of Times Square which is close by.

If you’re coming to NYC to check out a Broadway show, venture over to 9th Avenue and look for the giant pig statue outside Rudy’s door – he’s currently sporting a mask to protect himself from the Swine Flu.

Try to get a seat at one of the red vinyl booths that have more duct-tape on them than vinyl these days.  Otherwise belly up to the bar for a beer or whiskey.  You’ll be disappointed if you’re looking for a glass of wine or a Cosmo – they are not to be found here.  As with any good dive bar, you are taking your chances in the bathrooms, use at your own risk.  Until recently they had one of the best jukeboxes around, but it has been “upgraded” to one of those internet things – boooo!

Despite the new jukebox – this is definitelly worth a visit when in NYC.

Rudy’s Bar & Grill
627 9th Ave (Near 44th)
New York, NY 10036
(212) 974-9169

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From trailer trash to lit’ry class, we bring it all to you here at Retro Roadmap!

For a classy and classic place to knock back a cocktail in New York City, you just can’t beat  the Algonquin Hotel. Famous as the gathering place of the New Yorker literary set in the 20’s (Hello Dorothy Parker, my fave!) The ‘Gonk’ still has that air of elegance as it did back in their day.


There’s more history here than you can shake a book at: Interesting fact for example is that the round table gang  never drank here because of Prohibition but rather dined here for hours on end, seeing who could out wit who. Also I’ll warn you that while the original Round Table has been lost to a past renovation, dining at the oval table under the portrait would still be a momentous treat.


(A wonderful way to learn more about the area and this era is to take the walking tour of the area sponsored by The Dorothy Parker Society.)

You can lounge in the lobby (or lobby in the lounge  I guess)  or stay to dine if you prefer. There’s live jazz, a cat in residency, and fabulous people watching. The luxury of days gone by is in every tile and fixture.

So have a tipple or two, and pretend you’re part of the smart set that put this place on the map. Raise your glass to them all and say, ala Dot Parker:

” I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most-
After three I’m under the table
After four I’m under my host.”

The Algonquin

59 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036
(212) 840-6800


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