A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend a rooftop dinner at the Roosevelt Hotel, also known as the “Grande Dame of Madison Avenue.” As the hotel opened in 1924, the theme of the evening was flapper chic, and along with my fellow journalists I dressed for the occasion. We met up in the Roosevelt’s resplendent lobby and headed up to Mad46, the indoor-outdoor rooftop lounge, in an express elevator.
Since the occasion for the celebration was the hotel’s 90th anniversary, the cocktail menu included Prohibition-era classics like mint juleps and gin rickeys mixed up on the spot. I went with a sidecar — in this case made with Jack Daniel’s rather than rye smuggled over the Canadian border.
The views of the Manhattan skyline from the rooftop were spectacular, and inside the hotel had set up a long table lit with tall white candles for a plated meal. Like the drinks, the food hearkened back to the early twentieth century. We began with a Caesar salad, one of Julia Child’s favorites from a girlhood spent Calfornia in the 1920s. For the next course we had the option of a salmon filet or a New York strip steak. Feeling more than usually carnivorous after a few sidecars, I went with the steak, which came out dressed in truffle butter and was accompanied by roasted fingerling potatoes and French beans.
Given that the revelry lasted until nearly midnight, most of us stayed over at the hotel. In the morning we toured the hotel, including the Presidential Suite where Thomas E. Dewey stayed with his family during the 1948 U.S. presidential election. He went to sleep thinking he would be the 33rd president, only to wake and learn he’d been defeated by Harry S. Truman. After the tour, we ate breakfast at The Roosevelt Grill, an open-air dining room graced with a life-sized statue of Theodore Roosevelt. As I was still full from the night before, I had some buttery scones with jam and fresh fruit and “called it a morning.”