Bijou – Old Waldorf Bar Days

From the theatre of the same name, in Broadway, a few blocks away, though certain connoisseurs were strong for the French term that was synonymous with jewel. They said it tasted like a jewel looked. The nativity of its two principal components lent authority to the drink, if not to their contention.

Two dashes Orange Bitters

One-half French Vermuth

One-half Grand Marnier


The Bijou Theatre on Broadway opened August 26, 1878 and had as its proprietor at the time allegedly none other than Jerry Thomas, I wonder if he’d been involved in the later edition of his book if it would’ve appeared in there, it’s not a million miles away from Jerry’s ‘Fancy Vermouth Cocktail’ so I believe it entirely possible he may have had a hand in its creation, and indeed why wouldn’t the worlds master bartender of the age not name a drink after his theatre?

It was also this theatre where Fanny Ward played cupid in the play Adonis in 1884 which spurned the drink of the same name (15-02), I like to think that Fanny may have stopped and had a drink with Mr Thomas after a production or two. And again, this theatre was demolished some 15 years before Old Waldorf Bar Days was first published, so it’s nice to see some drink history remain and be passed along. It’s been very strange finding these two names crop up when researching this drink, I guess New York was a much smaller place in the late 1800’s.

Despite the French components of the drink lending weight to the jewel argument, based on the history at the theatre, and regardless of relevance, I’m firmly on this side of contention.

The drink itself was better than expected, Grand Marnier isn’t as sweet, and has a little kick from the cognac it uses as its base which stops the drink being too sweet, the bitters helps as well. If I were to drink this again I think I’d still add a 1/3-part cognac to tone down the sweetness that remains though.