The master mixologist of the Gilded Age

Cocktail aficionados owe a lot to Jerry Thomas, aka The Professor, a showman of a bartender who wrote the first definitive handbook on mixing drinks, “The Bar-Tender’s Guide,” in 1862. (It’s also called “The Bon-Vivant’s Companion,” a much lovelier title.)

Jerrythomasbartender2His guide included the first written recipes for the Tom Collins and the Tom and Jerry, among hundreds of other concoctions.

But Thomas is probably most famous for the Blue Blazer, which involves lighting whiskey on fire and then passing it back and forth in metal mixing glasses. Looks like he’s mixing a blue blazer in the illustration at right.

Thomas had a saloon in the 1850s downtown; he soon left New York to work in hotel bars across the U.S. before returning to work at the Metropolitan Hotel, on Broadway and Prince Street.

In 1866 he opened his own place on Broadway between 21st and 22nd Streets (where Restoration Hardware is today). He updated his bartender’s guide several times before dying in 1885, after which¬†The New York Times described him as “at one time better known to club men and men about town than any other bartender in this city.”

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3 Responses to “The master mixologist of the Gilded Age”

  1. PizzaBagel Says:

    The Blue Blazer sounds suspiciously like the Flaming Moe from “The Simpsons.” However, it lacks the key ingredient — cough syrup.

  2. charles Says:

    I love this site, and I love Chelsea…having moved out of NY after being born and raised there I go back a few times of year for my “shot of life”. When I do go I always stay somewhere in Chelsea…the restaurants, the shops and streets themselves are so homey and comfortable….all the style that once was still shines thgrough.

  3. charles Says:

    I love this site, and I love Chelsea…having moved out of NY after being born and raised there I go back a few times a year for my “shot of life”. When I do go I always stay somewhere in Chelsea…the restaurants, the shops and streets themselves are so homey and comfortable….all the style that once was still shines through.

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