Weylin- Lotus Club Special – Recipe from David Embury’s ‘The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks’

Dissolve a lump of sugar with a few dashes of Peychaud or Angostura bitters and muddle in a bar glass. Add a dash or two of absinthe and a drink of rye or bourbon. Stir and serve in an Old-Fashioned glass, adding a twist of lemon to the finished drink.

This drink was the house drink for the Lotus Club situated in the Weylin hotel on Madison and 54th in New York. The name Weylin sounds oriental in origin to me, it however comes from that American tradition of inventing a new name by mixing the names of partners together, in this case Weymar and Franklin.

The Hotel itself was built in 1921, just at the beginning of prohibition, so it must’ve been a brave, or foolish idea at a time when hotels were closing at a rate of knots now that their main income source had ‘dried up’. On record we also have two arrests made at the hotel for selling Champagne in the same year, a common occurrence in New York at the time, although not for the kind of champagne we’re used to. The same year police raided 40 clubs in New York and seized 8000 cases of champagne, all of which was a mix of cider, CO2 and ethanol. Prohibition era New York was not quite the glamourous place F. Scott Fitzgerald would have us believe.

Built in the 20’s it was the height of Art Deco, and the interior of the hotel comes as no surprise. The beautiful murals in the dining room below were by an artist called Marcel Vertes, painted when he was still in his early 20’s. He went on to paint murals at several other hotels, including the Waldorf Astoria in their Peacock Alley, from here his income was primarily from forging the works of Toulouse Lautrec, which made him an obvious choice to do the Art Direction and Costume for a 1953 production of Moulin Rouge, which he won two Oscars for.

The drink itself is how I’ve had my Old Fashioned’s for the last 15 years.

Ever since Absinthe became more readily available, and I tried my first Sazerac I’ve hardly had one without a dash or two of absinthe, I find it really lifts the drink and leaves a freshness at the end, almost mint like. A perfect drink to sip outside during the last few warm evenings in London before winter hits.