August 23, 2006
NY’s oldest bartender still mixing martinis at 90
By Claudia Parsons
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A man who mixed martinis for Marilyn
Monroe and poured Scotch for John Lennon was feted as New
York's oldest bartender when he turned 90 this week, and he
vowed to keep working.
Hoy Wong, who was born in Hong Kong and served in the U.S.
military in World War II, is known simply as Mr. Hoy at the
historic Algonquin Hotel where he has served Manhattans and
martinis for the past 27 years in the dimly lit Blue Bar.
The hotel is best known as the favored lunch spot of the
1920s literary circle The Round Table, whose members included
the founders of The New Yorker magazine.
The Algonquin, which touts Hoy as the city's oldest
bartender, threw a birthday party for him on Tuesday night,
inviting customers past and present as well as staff, friends
and family. Asked about retirement, Hoy said: "I never think
about that. ... Now I'm 90 but I don't feel I'm that old."
Hoy started tending bar in 1948 and worked at various
hotels and restaurants, including Freeman Chum in New York
where he served Monroe drinks, before moving to the Algonquin
where former Beatle Lennon used to order Scotch.
Hoy was coy about his celebrity customers, but his
granddaughter Jennifer Zhang-Mckenna said he would occasionally
come home with anecdotes from work.
"He would tell me that the Duke of Windsor told him he made
the best martini in the world," Zhang-Mckenna told Reuters.
"One day he said 'People all think that Marilyn Monroe is
beautiful but I'm telling you, the prettiest is Elizabeth
Taylor, though Marilyn Monroe is just sweet.' She would come to
the bar and say with her sweet voice 'Hi, Mr Hoy,"' she said.
Zhang-Mckenna said she would be surprised if Hoy ever
"He can't relax. I said 'When are you going to retire?' and
he said 'I don't know, maybe I'll work for a couple more
years,' and that was 10 years ago," she said.