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Hotel restaurants don’t get enough credit for what comes out of their kitchens, especially since some of their edible creations have become part of culinary history. Take the iconic Waldorf Salad, for example. While the storied New York hotel where it was first served is set to close indefinitely (see below), the salad of apple, celery and mayonnaise will live on forever. So, book a stay, and then book a dining reservation or sidle up to the bar, and enjoy these eight delicious dishes and drinks in the places where they were born.

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The creation of the Piña Colada shook up cocktails.

The creation of the Piña Colada shook up cocktail history. | Photo: Caribe Hilton San Juan

Caribe Hilton San Juan – The Piña Colada
Puerto Rico’s famous tropical iced cocktail has two camps claiming the rights to its origin, with one side being Barrachina Restaurant in Old San Juan  in 1963. The other party is this Hilton property, thanks to the hotel’s bartender, Ramón “Monchito” Marrero. In 1954, he created his combo of mixed rum, coconut cream, and pineapple juice. For 35 years, Marrero continuously served his version at his place of employment. In 2004, Puerto Rico’s Governor Sila María Calderón signed a proclamation honoring the 50th anniversary of the birth of the Piña Colada, which was given to the hotel.

Having a hot brown in Kentucky is a must.

Having a hot brown in Kentucky is a must. | Photo: Brown Hotel

The Brown Hotel – The Hot Brown
When in Louisville, Kentucky, try a local foodie legend—the Hot Brown. It’s an open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and a béchamelstyle mornay sauce that is either baked or broiled until the bread gets crisp and the white, cheesy sauce begins to brown. This heated sandwich originated at the Brown Hotel in 1926, when chef Fred Schmidt decided to create a dish that stood out from then-common fare like ham and eggs. Today, hotel guests can have a Hot Brown at the property’s restaurants or bar, or via room service.


The Singapore Sling was created a century ago. | Photo: Raffles Singapore

Raffles Singapore – The Singapore Sling
This bright pinkish cocktail was created by bartender Ngiam Tong Boom—and specifically with the ladies in mind. During Singapore’s British colonial era, Raffles Singapore’s Long Bar was the hotspot to gather for a drink, but the etiquette of the day did not permit the ladies to consume alcohol in public. Ngiam took notice of this propriety, and in 1915 he created a cocktail that might have looked like fruit punch, but actually was infused with liquors such as gin and Cointreau. The drink’s pretty color comes from the additions of ingredients like grenadine, but overall the Singapore Sling apparently gave off a modest first impression.


The brownie was developed for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. | Photo: Palmer House Hilton

The Palmer House Hilton – The Brownie
One of the world’s most beloved chocolate desserts was developed in Chicago, in the late-19th century. Cooked up by the Palmer House’s pastry chef, the first brownie was made for serving at the World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893. Bertha Palmer, the wife of the hotel’s owner, Potter Palmer, had requested that the kitchen staff create such a treat to include in lunch boxes for women attending the exhibition. As this original brownie recipe is well over a century old, its exact directions are still carried out at the now-called Palmer House Hilton.

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The Bloody Mary also goes by the name “The Red Snapper” | Photo: St. Regis New York.

The St. Regis New York – The Bloody Mary
The beloved brunch cocktail was perfected at this Manhattan hotel’s King Cole Bar over 80 years ago. In 1934, bartender Fernand Petiot came up with this spicy drink when the Russian-American aristocrat Serge Obolensky asked Petiot to make a vodka cocktail he had in Paris. Petiot formulated a recipe with vodka plus salt, pepper, lemon and Worcestershire sauce. However, apparently the name “Bloody Mary” was deemed too vulgar, so the drink was rechristened the “Red Snapper.” Name differences aside, this beverage is still made at King Cole Bar from its original recipe. You can also buy the mix directly from the hotel.


The Waldorf popularized many American foods, like its Waldorf Salad. | Photo: Waldorf Astoria New York

Waldorf Astoria New York – The Waldorf Salad
This landmark NYC hotel has added much to America’s palate, thanks to an employee named Oscar Tschirky. As the hotel’s original maître d’hôtel, Tschirky is tied to creating or popularizing culinary staples such as the Waldorf Salad. Sadly, the Waldorf Astoria will be closing temporarily on March 1, 2017, to be partially converted into condos while keeping a smaller portion of the hotel, but it’s certain that this famous dish will live on. While its recipe has evolved over time, apples are always included. Another famous dish is also linked to this iconic hotel—Eggs Benedict. The backstory: Wall Street broker Lemuel Benedict regularly ordered the ingredients of the dish as a hangover cure, which was then modified and served at the hotel ever since.


The Boston Cream Pie is a delicious part of Omni’s history. | Photo: Omni Parker House

Omni Parker House – The Boston Cream Pie
This elegant historic Boston inn has made significant contributions to New England cuisine. According to a history book on the hotel, one yummy inclusion is the Boston Cream Pie, a descendant of a colonial New England dessert called “pudding-cake pie.” Led by French chef M Sanzian, the Parker House kitchen staff’s interpretation involved the drizzling of chocolate icing onto a sponge cake filled with vanilla custard. (Now it’s the official dessert of Massachusetts.) Another edible addition is the Parker House Roll, a fluffy oval-shaped bread with a buttery topping that’s still served to Parker patrons.

Peach Melba is named after an opera singer.

Peach Melba is named after an opera singer. | Photo: The Savoy

The Savoy – Peach Melba
In the 1890s, this London hotel treated a special guest with a specialty dessert. When Australian operatic soprano Nellie Melba visited The Savoy, she asked for a special menu to be created for a dinner party she was hosting there. So, chef Auguste Escoffier came up with a neat dessert idea—a pyramid of plump peaches on a bed of vanilla ice cream with spun sugar spirals. Now called Peach Melba, a modern day version of this fruity treat still exists at The Savoy and is served at Kaspar’s Seafood Bar and Grill.

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Michele Herrmann

Michele Herrmann

Michele writes about women's travel, destinations, culinary, and cultural topics for various outlets and has ventured as far as Fiji, to date. She also muses her tales on She Is Going Places.
Michele Herrmann

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