American Hotel Barman’s ‘One Millionth Drink,’ A Martini, Raises A Bundle For Local Food Pantry

Jeff Sander, Vinnie Rom, Mala Sander with the martini. Courtesy Jesse Matsuoka

Sitting in the lobby of the American Hotel in Sag Harbor recently, Bill Collage and Susan Mead marveled aloud that they believed barman Vinnie Rom must have made almost a million drinks in his 30 years at the hotel.

“Almost,” laughed Rom.

Just how much, wondered the two customers, both members of the board of the Sag Harbor Cinema, as they nursed their cocktails, would the popular and celebrated bartender’s 1 millionth drink be worth?

They decided to find out.

On Saturday evening, November 27, just steps outside the theater’s Green Room bar, the cinema hosted a live auction of what was believed to be the barman’s millionth cocktail. At Rom’s suggestion, they announced that the proceeds would go to benefit the Sag Harbor Community Food Pantry — and that the drink of choice would be a martini.

With Rom stirring a generous pour of Belvedere vodka into a shaker glass full of ice, Collage started the bidding at $20. It quickly rose from there.

One hundred. Five hundred. A thousand.

Cheers went up, as did hands throughout the group of about 60 martini fans anxious to bid. Collage pledged $1,000 himself on top of whatever the outcome would be.

When the flurry of bidding stopped, it was Jeff Sander, mayor of North Haven Village, who came away with the coveted martini — with olives — pledging a donation of $5,600.

But, as the saying goes, you can’t fly on one wing. So a crowd still thirsty for more action convinced Rom to make his 1,000,001st cocktail. That one went to John Froud, also of North Haven, for $2,000.

With additional cash donations of $594 from the evening, the local pantry received a total contribution of $9,194.