This drink appears to be the victim of a bar claiming to be the proprietor of this drink. As you well know from many past articles, drinks are very rarely invented by one single bartender without help from popular culture. This drink is no exception. The story most believe is this drink was created by Eddie Woeke who may or may not have been a bartender at Weylin Bar in 1936. Many believe this bar was located on madison avenue and thus, this is how the drink got it’s name.
This is not true, first, there is no strong evidence that eddie woeke the bartender ever exist. Second, the bar was located between madison and park avenues on east 54th street in 1936 as seen here:
Dining in New York: an intimate guide by Rian James in 1934
“WEYLIN BAR, 40 East 54th Street, smart and exclusive”
One thing is correct though, this drink was likely created in New York City and the date is very close, it seems odd so much precise information would be purported about the drink, but other obvious facts were overlooked. This only further validates that this drink was a victim of some other bar claiming it.
The actual Madison Avenue appears as early as:
Along the wine trail: Volume 5 by G. Selmer Fougner in 1937
“The Madison Avenue Cocktail The conductor of the “Trail” column was the judge of the contest at which the Madison avenue cocktail was selected. Here is the recipe: The juice of one small lime, three or four sprigs of mint, muddled, rum, triple sec,
It appears the madison avenue was the winner of a cocktail contest held by the “Along the Wine Trail” magazine in 1937, but the contestants were not mentioned, nor was the type of rum, triple sec, or bitters. Although it is important to note a few things, cointreau was not in america at this time and orange, maraschino, and peychaud bitters were long out of style, so this drink certainly called for angostura bitters.
The Bacardi rum company has long been located on Madison Avenue and wouldn’t you know it, this drink calls for rum. It is far more likely Bacardi ran a contest for this drink. Here are some early references backing this claim:
LIFE – Oct 19, 1953 – Page 146
“BACARDI IMPORTS, INC., 595 MADISON AVENUE, NY. RUM . 86 PROOF.”
LIFE – Aug 13, 1956 – Page 95 Vol. 41, No. 7
“Bacardi Imports Inc. 595 Madison Ave., NYC Rum. “
This drink dates to 1937 and contained at least as of then:
Properly bruise mint leaves and place in highball glass
Pour these ingredients into the glass over the mint:
Rum (Very likely Bacardi)
Strain these ingredients using a julep strainer into a mixing tin filled with ice cubes, shake well.
Fill the recently strained glass (that should still have mint in it) with fresh ice cubes.
Strain contents of the mixing tin into the highball glass.