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Jerry ‘The Professor’ Thomas: the world’s first bar-tender

Jerry ‘The Professor’ Thomas: the world’s first bar-tender

Evolution has Darwin, aviation has the Wright brothers and mixology has Jerry Thomas. This week, we raise our glasses to the chap who started it all.

1800s America was a rough place where gunfights and gold rushes were the order of the day, so it goes without saying a fair bit of drinking took place…Much of it under the watchful eyes of barman Jerry Thomas, who was apparently a fan of bare-knuckle boxing, snazzy clothes, and flashing large wads of cash.

Earning more than the VEEP

Born in 1830, Thomas worked in bars and saloons everywhere from St. Louis to Charleston. At the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco, Thomas earned $100 a week—more than the Vice President of the United States – and at one point he owned four bars in his native New York. Everywhere he went, The Professor wowed patrons with his showmanship and skill.

There’s no doubting Thomas could mix a mean drink, but he achieved immortality by writing the first drinks book ever published in the good old US of A. The Bar-Tender’s Guide which was also published under the brilliantly blunt title How to Mix Drinks “laid down the principles for formulating mixed drinks of all categories and established the image of the bartender as a creative professional,” according to the New York Times.

Smoke and mirrors

While there is some doubt about Thomas’ claims that he invented drinks like the Manhattan and the Tom and Jerry, we can independently verify that he is 100% responsible for the creation of The Blue Blazer, a drink that the man himself described as “a blazing stream of liquid fire.” Do yourself a favour and check out this insane video of a Blazer in the making:

Thomas died of a stroke, near penniless after some speculative investments went bad, at the tender age of 55. But his passion for making drinking an experience to be remembered lives on today. Join us, if you will, in making a toast: “To The Professor!”

Keen to Make Cocktails Great Again? Why not hire our highly-skilled team of passionate bartenders to make Blue Blazers your next speakeasy? We also make other drinks and do weddings, birthdays and conferences

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