Sir Walter Cocktail a.k.a. Swalter


The New York Bar with the address”Sank Roo Doe Noo” (5 rue Daunou) helpfully painted on the window, is located on Paris’s right bank near  l’Opera and has been in operation since 1911, surviving two world wars and, of course, U.S. Prohibition (someone had to carry the torch while the rest of America drank bathtub gin flavored with prune juice).

In 1923, Harry MacElhone, the bartender, bought the New York Bar, adding his name to the sign in the window. One of the cocktails he mixed for visiting expats and locals was the “Sir Walter”, affectionately known as the “Swalter.” There is no indication for whom this drink is named, but as MacElhone was a Scotsman from Dundee, you can bet your kilt, and throw your sporran in to boot, it’s Sir Walter Scott. 

Swalter Cocktail

1 teaspoon Grenadine

1 teaspoon Curaçao

1 teaspoon Lemon Juice (fresh squeezed and strained)

1 ½ oz Brandy

1 ½ oz Rum

Shake well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. No garnish is called for, but a lemon twist would not be out of place. The proportions given are going to make a slightly oversized cocktail, so you can always go a little light on the ounce-and-a-half measures.


Harry MacElhone behind the bar

One of Harry’s greatest legacies, along with the straw poll taken at every U.S. presidential election (they have been wrong only three times), and his international beer drinking contest (2 liters consumed as quickly as possible—the current record being at the time of writing: 11 seconds) was the creation of the International Bar Fly, or I.B.F., and Harry’s bar in Paris became Trap No. 1. A few of the I.B.F. rules include:

  • Those sniffing about “the best little woman in the world” and staying for another round must pay for it.
  • Back slapping after six drinks should be tempered with mercy. Remember many B.Fs have false teeth.


  • Those seeing cerise cats with purple ears should keep it to themselves.

And that oldie but goodie:

  • Remember, nothing is “on the house” but the roof.