October 22: The Met

metropolitan-opera1It was on this day in 1883 that New York’s famous Metropolitan Opera (The Met for short) opened its door. But, did you know that the famed opera house got its start because of New York City class tensions?

In the mid 19th Century, New York’s premier opera house was at the Academy of Music. It was the center of cultural life for New York City’s elites and the city’s oldest and wealthiest families all owned boxes at the Academy of Music. However, by the 1880s there was an intra-class tension growing between the city’s old money and its nouveaux riche. Since the Academy of Music was the old money families’ social center, they were loathe to allow the newly rich industrialists to buy boxes and thus buy their way into “proper society”.

So, in 1880, a group of New York’s rich industrialists, including men with the surnames Morgan, Roosevelt, and Vanderbilt, got together and decided they’d pool their resources and build their own opera house. The new Metropolitan Opera featured three tiers of private boxes, and subscriptions quickly sold out. When the Met opened on October 22, 1883 with a performance of Charles Gounod’s Faust, the production and the opera house were met with rave reviews. The Met is still going strong 131 years later, while the Academy of Music ended its opera program three years after the Met opened, leaving its patrons to beg for tickets.

Since Faust was the first opera staged at the Met, and I already introduced you to the Metropolitan cocktail, it’s only fitting that we make a Faust. Named after the fictional alchemist who sold his soul to a demon, this drink will make you feel like you sold your soul. It’s a particularly potent mix of Yukon Jack honey whiskey liqueur, Jägermeister and 151-proof rum. The taste of honey, licorice and high proof alcohol is not unpleasant, but it’s definitely not for all comers.

Faust

  • 1/3 ounce Yukon Jack
  • 1/3 ounce Jägermeister
  • 1/3 ounce 151 proof Rum

Pour each ingredient into a shot glass. Consume at your own rish.

Tomorrow: An iconic New York hotel.

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