Born October 30, 1830 in Sackets Harbor, New York, Jerry P. Thomas began to tend bar at an early age in New Haven, Connecticut. He soon would find himself in the middle of the gold rush but would find no fortune and eventually would make his way to New York City. After opening a saloon below Barnum’s American Museum, Thomas established himself as the authority on premium libation. He would later go on to open 3 other saloons in New York City during his lifetime. His book, How to Mix Drinks or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion was the first drink book ever published in the United States. It provides instructions on how to create cocktails such as the Fizz, Flips, Sours and Punches. His book even contained the first written recipe for the Tom Collins.
But it wasn’t just his incredible talent for crafting and creating new cocktails, Thomas was one of the most charismatic masters in his field. At the peak of his career, while tending the bar at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco, Thomas was earning more than the sitting Vice President of the United States.
The techniques developed by Thomas has defined the bar culture in the United States. Everything from the importance of fresh ingredients, to proper tools, to showmanship behind the bar is thanks to the “Professor.” Jerry P. Thomas, a real Renaissance man of his time. He had been a sailor, a minor theatrical impresario, an art collector, an inventor, an author, among other things. He passed away on December 15, 1885 in his home in New York City.
Written By Esteban Escobar
Esteban Escobar – Entrepreneur, bartender, musician, baker, I thrive when challenged. My company, PremierMixers.com sells and distributes exceptional bar products, tools, and mixers around the world. I look forward to seeing what challenges await.