Sunday, October 2, 2011

The granddaddy of guides - Jeremiah was a Bartender

As the American Civil War was ramping up in 1862, "Professor" Jeremiah "Jerry" Thomas (1830 – 1885) published the first bartenders' guide to include cocktail recipes.
How to Mix Drinks; or,
The Bon Vivant's Companion

Mr. Thomas was the first celebrity bartender. His guide, "How to Mix Drinks; or, The Bon Vivant's Companion" was replete recipes for punches, sours, slings, cobblers, shrubs, toddies, and flips.

Given some of those names, I suppose "cocktail" isn't too odd an appellation for a drink. And speaking of cocktails, there were a variety of other types of mixed drinks, including ten recipes for drinks referred to as, OMG, "cocktails."

Interestingly, at that time, a key  ingredient differentiating "cocktails" from other drinks was bitters.  Ironically, most modern cocktail recipes don't include the use of bitters.

The book collected and codified what was then an oral tradition of recipes from the early days of cocktails, including some of his own creations; the guide laid down the principles for formulating mixed drinks of all categories.

He would go on to update it several times in his lifetime to include new drinks that he found or created.

The "Professor" at work
For more on Jerry Thomas, check out the  New York Times article, The Bartender Who Started it All.

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