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There are a few parties that will go down in history as stuff of merry-making legend. There was the time Bianca Jagger rode into Studio 54 on a white horse. There was the occasion when president Andrew Jackson invited guests to the White House to decimate a 1,400-pound wheel of cheese. Then, of course, there’s Truman Capote’s legendary Black and White Ball, held at New York’s Plaza Hotel on November 28, 1966.
The fete, thrown by the American novelist to honor Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, was attended by 540 guests—a cadré of notables Capote described to the New York Times as “international types, lots of beautiful women, and ravishing little things.”
Guests arrived masked, and in strictly black and white attire. Mia Farrow did the twist as Frank Sinatra looked on. Billy Baldwin, the legendary American decorator, rolled up in a unicorn headdress. Octogenarian Alice Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of president Teddy Roosevelt, remarked that the ball was “the most exquisite of spectator sports.”
Also in attendance were some of Capote’s “Swans,” a cohort of glamorous, high-society women the author idolized and eventually betrayed in his notorious Esquire article, “La Côte Basque, 1965,” an episode that is chronicled in the hotly anticipated Hulu and FX series Feud: Capote vs. the Swans.
Capote tapped society decorator Evie Backer to deck out the ballroom—“the only really beautiful ballroom left in the United States,” per the author—with red tablecloths, slim white taper candles, and the climbing plant smilax (“The people are flowers,” Backer told the Times). On the menu? Spaghetti Bolognese, chicken hash—and 400 bottles of Taittinger Champagne.
In time for the series’ premiere January 31, the Plaza is paying homage to the Black and White Ball by recreating the party’s original menu. Through February 13 at the hotel’s Champagne Bar, you can feast just like one of Capote’s guests with comforting dishes like chicken hash, the Swans spaghetti and meatballs, and—beginning at $255 a bottle—a glass of Taittinger Brut.
For an eye-watering $16,000, you can even pop a bottle of 1966 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rosé Grand Cru—the same vintage as the ball itself and about what Capote paid for the entire soirée at the time. The hotel will even throw in a complimentary stay in its Grand Penthouse Suite. Even if money can’t buy you Swans-level class, it can certainly guarantee an epic night out.
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