Harry’s New York Bar
What do you feel like drinking tonight? How about a Monkey Gland?
The Monkey Gland is just one of dozens of iconic cocktails created by the legendary barman Harry MacElhone at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris (you can find the recipe at the end of this article).
Few bars rise to the level of true legends in the industry, so we thought it would be fun to start a series of profiles about the greatest of the great.
The original Harry’s New York Bar, located in Paris, France, at 5 Rue Daunou, has been around for more than a century. Former American star jockey Tod Sloan bought the place in 1911 and converted it from a bistro to a bar. Its initial name, “New York Bar,” was a literal description; Sloan actually dismantled a bar from Manhattan and shipped to Paris. He then hired a talented and ambitious Scottish barman named Harry MacElhone to run the bar.
Early on in the 20th century, Paris became exceedingly popular with American artists, writers, and tourists. As visitors and ex-pat populations increased, Sloan wanted to capitalize on his fame in America. He also wanted to make his bar a spot where expatriates would feel at home. His bar did become widely popular, but Sloan’s financial incompetence coupled with overspending on a lavish personal lifestyle, forced him to sell the place.
In 1923, barman MacElhone bought the bar from his former employer and added his name to it. Harry would be the talent and force that made Harry’s American Bar a legendary Parisian landmark and one of the world’s best bars. Harry’s is widely credited with being the birthplace of classic cocktails like the French 75, the Sidecar, The Monkey Gland and the world-famous Bloody Mary.
By the late 1920s, Harry’s had become famous as the “go to” place for the world’s chic jet set. Sitting at the bar, one could regularly spot royals, Hollywood stars, sports legends, business titans, and renowned writers enjoying Harry’s offerings. Sinclair Lewis, Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel, Humphrey Bogart, Rita Hayworth, and the Duke of Windsor were all regulars. George Gershwin supposedly composed “An American in Paris” at Harry’s “Ivories” piano bar.
When Harry died in 1958, his son Andrew took over and ran the bar until 1989. His son, Duncan, inherited the bar and ran it until his death in 1998, when his widow, Isabelle MacElhone took charge of the operation. The MacElhone family still runs the establishment to this day.
Harry MacElhone created this cocktail at Harry’s, one of the best cocktail bars in the world, in the 1920s. It supposedly got its name from a pseudo-scientific theory that became popular in the 1920s, which theorized that grafting tissue from a monkey testicle into humans would boost longevity.
In a shaker with ice combine:
- 1.5 oz. gin
- 1.5 oz. fresh orange juice
- 1 tsp. grenadine
- 1 tsp. absinthe
Shake vigorously and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with orange wheel.