Cocoanut Grove Cocktails, Ambassador Hotel Los Angeles 1930s/40s
Why is there a monkey in a tuxedo climbing a palm tree at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California? When the hotel opened its doors at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 1921, the nightclub was decorated with papier mâché palm trees taken from the set of the Rudolph Valentino silent film The Sheik. It had just finished filming and would be shown later that year. In the fake trees were mechanical monkeys, with electric amber eyes.
The actor John Barrymore and his pet monkey Clementine were residents in the Ambassador for a time and he would bring the animal down to the nightclub to climb the trees with the fake monkeys.
This menu, which we believe is from the 1950s, celebrates the famous monkeys that ‘roamed’ the Cocoanut Grove.
As was the fashion, the cocktail list included recipes for each drink. Note the strange prices of drinks which were 63, 73 or 88 cents. Possibly including tax?
The novelist F Scott Fitzgerald – author of The Great Gatsby– was also a one-time resident and described the opening as the ‘greatest, gaudiest spree in American history.’ There were 1,000 guest rooms and bungalows, restaurants, shops, a cinema, a ‘beach’ and a mini golf course on the 27-acre site. The Cocoanut Grove opened four months later, decorated in Moorish style, and with a ceiling painted to resemble a starry sky. The nightspot became an instant hit and the Hollywood elite that included Charlie Chaplin, Rudolph Valentino and Greta Garbo used it as their playground. Minnie and Mickey Mouse were guests of honor in 1930 as Walt Disney celebrated the second birthdays of his famous and beloved cartoon characters. Several Academy Awards ceremonies were held in the nightclub. The decline of the Ambassador probably started in 1968 when Robert F Kennedy was assassinated by gunman Sirhan Sirhan in the kitchen of the hotel after he had addressed a crowd of supporters. Attempts were made to modernize both the hotel and the Cocoanut Grove, but the once glorious building began to fall into disrepair. Despite the epic efforts of the Los Angeles Conservancy and other supporters to save it, the property was demolished in 2005 to make way for a school complex.
Courtesy Private Collection.
Gallery quality Giclée print on natural white, matte, 100% cotton rag, acid and lignin free archival paper using Epson K3 archival inks. Custom printed with border for matting and framing.
All printed in USA.
Each product is accompanied by a copy of the interior menu where available.