In March of 1985, I realized that Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt “Marilow” Whitney, the current Queen of the Saratoga Springs Society, was trying to ruin my summer.
At the time, I was the PR Director for The House of Seagram, Ltd, a global beverage company headquartered in Manhattan. That month, I told my husband that I would get a lot of publicity if I sponsored Marilu’s annual gala. I’ve been to Saratoga.
On the train from New York to Albany, I wondered. what was i thinking? Naturally, he concluded that Mrs. Whitney was arrogant and demanding, and would feel her wrath. Of course, I completely surprisingly error.
After meeting her agent in Saratoga, Marill invited me to lunch the following week at the gorgeous apartment she and her then-husband, “Sonny,” shared at 59th and 5th. . The building’s opulent lobby is a stargazer with her Lily-scented, private her elevator, and a uniformed doorman ” “Foy Yay”Mrs. Whitney greeted me warmly and insisted I call her Marill. “everyone I will,” she said with a smile.
We decided to test a cocktail recipe she created for the gala using Seagram products. She landed on ‘The Saratoga Sparklar’ which included Great Her Western Champagne, simple syrup, 3 dashes of bitters and 1 cube of brown sugar.
At one point, Sonny, in a tie and a bespoke suit, walked down a curved marble staircase and greeted me as warmly as a wife. He was obsessed with an achievement he was very proud of: the National Racing Museum and the Hall of Fame. He was the founder, major contributor and driving force behind it. I promised him that I would stop by someday and see the place.
Maril’s Saratoga soiree that year, like all the soiree she held, was full of glimmering, glorious people-watching.
By chance, I am now a member of the racing museum’s visitor staff. Sometimes I think Marylou and Sonny might find it a little funny.