Elderly Tastemakers Merrily Booze It UpTake a journey, if you will, into the secret inner chambers of New York's cultural elites. It's an exclusive club where well-dressed "raconteurs and bon vivants" chatter urbanely while tuxedoed waiters scurry about. Of course, their meetings are at noon on Tuesdays, their members are mostly over the hill, and they didn't admit women until 1991. Welcome to the Dutch Treat Club, the Algonquin Roundtable for 21st-century Manhattan olds who still like to drink and ogle girls!

The club was quite a hot affair for the first 40 or 50 years after its founding in 1905. It once boasted members like Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman, and the cream of the city's journalism, literary, and artistic communities. Today, it can be more accurately embodied by the membership of gossiping octogenarian oddball Liz Smith. They're old:


A weekly e-mail message is sent out to "newcomers and forgetful old-timers" reminding: 1, Lunch is still $25 and wine is on the table; and 2, please be sure to turn off cellphones, or put them on vibrate.

They like to get buzzed:


A gold medal dangling on a red ribbon is handed out to guest speakers and performers, engraved with the club's mascot: a man in a top hat and tails with a monocle reclining in the bottom of a martini glass.

And they're now equal-opportunity horndogs:


Women were not admitted until 1991, a dramatic change that came about after intense voting, which required a recount because of suspected cheating...

Since the 1920s, the club has produced a yearbook known for its drawings of nude women that used to be inspired by the club's favorite coat check, hat and cigarette girls. At the end of the annual dinner, members will be given their 2008 yearbooks by the club's first woman president, the cabaret singer KT Sullivan.

[NYT]