The murky origins of this drink leave us patriots with nothing but questions. Named for the Algonquin Hotel in New York City--where the hotel bar shut down two years before Prohibition became the law of the land--the date of its invention remains unclear.
It's got cache, though. Literary lights hung out at the Algonquin in later (and, I might add, wetter) years, including the poet and short story writer Dorothy Parker, The New Yorker founder Harold Ross, playwright George S. Kaufman, and Broadway critic Alexander Woollcott. They, of course, became famous for quaffing gin martinis (a cocktail, which, as a significant contribution of the United States to the world--alongside rye whiskey--damns no souls).
With a handful of others, they made up the so-called Algonquin Round Table. In the 1920s, it garnered international fame and came to embody erudition as the preeminent cultural symbol of a flowering in American letters. The Round Table attracted celebrities such as Harpo Marx and Tallulah Bankhead to it's lunch-time meetings and night-time poker games. The New Yorker was founded on the second floor of the hotel. George S. Kaufman would go on to win the Pulitzer Prize.
As a historian, however, I'm sorry to report that our best guessing points towards this cocktail emerging after World War II. But it has the feel of a classic, it's named for a classic place, and it conjures up memories of a classic moment when intellectuals reigned as celebrities.
2 oz rye whiskey
1 oz dry vermouth (Noilly Prat is preferred)
1 oz pineapple juice
Shake with ice, and strain into a glass.
Spicy, clean, and dry, not too sweet. Just the way a cocktail should be.
Maybe if they had the chance to do it over again, the various members of the Round Table would order this one up on a daily basis. This patriot likes to think so.