The 23rd annual Parkerfest followed the path of our past soirees: friends, cocktails, walking tours, laughs. The 2022 edition was a smash success with the addition of a new taste, oysters, and a new important feature, visiting the grave of Dorothy Parker.
In our past gatherings–which have included events with boats and speakeasies—we truly celebrate the life and times of Dorothy Parker. This year we had events in Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Manhattan. We kept the tradition of Parkerfest alive; small numbers at some events, bigger attendance at others. Here’s a quick recap, which also includes some news about some of our favorite New York Parker spots.
For ten years we have been visiting the New York Distilling Company in Williamsburg. The distillery that makes Dorothy Parker Gin has been our most important partner in spreading the word about Dorothy Parker. The folks were instrumental last year in the fundraising efforts for the new Parker gravestone and memorial fund. The NYDC held a swell pre-birthday party. They partnered with the Billion Oyster Project to provide complimentary bivalve molluscs to the party. We got a tour of the operation led by Hannah Toale, New York Distilling’s Production Manager and Dorothy Parker Gin Distiller. Allen Katz, one of the founders of the company and a real champion for Mrs. Parker, gave us amazing news. Next year the distillery is moving operations to Bushwick, Brooklyn, to a space that is twice the size. The success of Dorothy Parker Gin will continue! The cocktails were amazing!
Saturday was the return of our walking tour to trace the footsteps of Dorothy Parker on the Upper West Side. This has been our annual August tradition since 1999. Some of the spots have changed; this was the first time we saw the completed “Parker West” condos that replaced one of Parker’s childhood homes, completed during the pandemic. Not impressed, we moved along. This was also the first tour where a dog-walking local asked us if we were on a Only Murders in the Building tour. We repaired to French Roast for refreshing cocktails.
Sunday, thanks to the Woodlawn Conservancy, there was a trolley tour to visit Dorothy Parker’s final resting place. The cremains were moved to Woodlawn Cemetery in 2020 and the gravestone was unveiled in 2021. This was the first trolley tour for her birthday. What was so nice to see? The NAACP had delivered roses to her grave and nice card. In addition to Parker, we also visited Nellie Bly, Irene & Vernon Castle, Celia Cruz, Miles Davis, Mayor La Guardia, Grantland Rice, and 30 more. We also toured inside two magnificent mausoleums, the grandest of all. We retired to the Rambling House for more cocktails.
Monday we wrapped up Parkerfest at our favorite location of all, the Algonquin Hotel. We have not been able to gather for Parker’s birthday here since 2019, and it was a welcome-back reception. The lobby bar was cool, and so were the cocktails. There is a new cocktail menu, and the Blue Bar is new too, located in the lobby. We even had the same waiters as in 2019. A fantastic addition to the evening is seeing the work the Al Hirschfeld Foundation has completed with prints and digital video screens of classic Hirschfeld art. But what is always the best part of concluding a visit to the Algonquin Hotel? Hamlet came out to meet us, get some head scratches, and observe us with his friendly gaze. As he walked along the front desk, we knew we were home.
Parkerfest will be back in 2023, stay tuned for updates. And in 2024, our 25th anniversary, we definitely will plan a major party.