A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 25, 2016
“I ordered a Manhattan and that Indian bartender charged me $24!”

Peter Minuit purchased the island of Manhattan from the Lenape Indians for $24 worth of trinkets in 1626, according a popular New York City legend. A joke was published in the Los Angeles (CA) Times on February 27, 1961:

“Eddie Spivak had an Indian bartender in the Redwood Restaurant up the street the other day. But, he had to let him go after a couple of hours. The guy was charging everybody $24 for a Manhattan (cocktail—ed.).”

The joke about an Indian bartender (various saloons are mentioned) charging $24 for a Manhattan was widely reprinted in the 1960s and 1970s.


Wikipedia: Peter Minuit
Peter Minuit, Pieter Minuit, Pierre Minuit or Peter Minnewit (between 1580 and 1585 – August 5, 1638) was a Walloon from Wesel, in present-day North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, then part of the Duchy of Cleves. His surname means “midnight”. He was Director of the Dutch colony of New Netherland from 1626 until 1631, and founded the Swedish colony of New Sweden in 1638.

Minuit is generally credited with orchestrating the purchase of Manhattan Island for the Dutch from the Native Americans called the Lenape, which later became the city of New Amsterdam, modern-day New York City, which was the core of the Dutch colony of New Netherland and the later British colony of New York.

He sailed to North America and arrived in the colony on May 4, 1626. Minuit is credited with purchasing the island of Manhattan from the Native Americans in exchange for traded goods valued at 60 guilders. According to the writer Nathaniel Benchley, Minuit conducted the transaction with Seyseys, chief of the Canarsees, who were only too happy to accept valuable merchandise in exchange for an island that was actually mostly controlled by the Weckquaesgeeks.

The figure of 60 guilders comes from a letter by a representative of the Dutch States-General and member of the board of the Dutch West India Company, Pieter Janszoon Schagen, to the States-General in November 1626. In 1846, New York historian John Romeyn Brodhead converted the figure of Fl 60 (or 60 guilders) to US$23. “[A] variable-rate myth being a contradiction in terms, the purchase price remains forever frozen at twenty-four dollars,” as Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace remarked in their history of New York.

27 February 1961, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Ham on Ryon” by Art Ryon, pt. 3, pg. 5, cols. 7-8:
Eddie Spivak had an Indian bartender in the Redwood Restaurant up the street the other day. But, he had to let him go after a couple of hours. The guy was charging everybody $24 for a Manhattan.

2 August 1961, Logan (OH) Daily News, “Try and Stop Me” by Bennett Cerf, pg. 3, col. 7:
They had to fire a full-blooded Indian bartender at a Newark inn recently. He did his work faithfully, but they couldn’t cure him of charging everybody $24 for a Manhattan.

17 June 1962, St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch, “Try and Stop Me” by Bennett Cerf, The Everyday Magazine, pg. 1, col. 1:
A NOBLE EXPERIMENT of Pat Callahan, owner of a midtown saloon, has ended in failure. Pat hired a full-blooded Indian to serve as an assistant bartender, but had to let him go at the end of a fortnight. He couldn’t be broken of a habit of charging $24 for a Manhattan.

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
8 June 1963, The Times-Union (Albany, NY), “In One Ear” by Joe McCarthy, American Weekly, pg. 15, col. 1:
THE Penthouse Club in New York had to fire its Indian bartender; he couldn’t break the habit of charging $24 for a Manhattan.

4 March 1964, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “It Happened Last Night” by Earl Wilson, sec. 7, pg. 8, col. 1:
Don Porter, star in the new B’way hit, “Any Wednesday,” asked a Times Square saloonkeeper why he fired his Indian bartender. “Hadda do it,” replied the saloonist, “He started charging $24 for a Manhattan.”

Google Books
Joke Tellers Handbook or 1,999 Belly Laughs
By Robert Orben
Garden City, NY: Doubleday
1966
Pg. ?:
Did you read about the new Broadway nightclub that’s run by Indians? And what a gimmick! They charge you $24 for a Manhattan!

Google Books
13 August 1970, Jet magazine, pg. 42:
PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT
Comedian Flip Wilson and his crack about that full-blooded Indian who got a job as a bartender but was fired after five minutes. “A customer asked for a Manhattan,” Flip deadpanned, “and the Indian charged him $24.”

Google Groups: rec.humor
new jokes...from a mag
sno...@drycas.club.cc.cmu.edu
4/23/92
(...)
“Why did you fire your Indian bartender?”
“Because he charged $24 for a Manhattan.”

Google Groups: alt.humor.puns
Puns of the Weak 04-25-03
Stan Kegel
4/25/03
(...)
I went to a New York bar and asked for a Manhattan. The bartender was an Indian and charged me $24. (Milton Berle)

Twitter
Bob Sacamano
‏@SacamanoB
Just paid $24 for a Manhattan cocktail from an Indian bartender. I win Thanksgiving.
12:01 PM - 25 Nov 2010

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityRestaurants/Bars/Bakeries/Food Stores • Tuesday, October 25, 2016 • Permalink