December 10, 2007

Imbibe! and the Story of "Professor" Jerry Thomas

blue-blazer.jpgA friend of ours sent us a link a while back to a New York Times story (subscription may be required) about Jerry Thomas, a bartender from the 1800s who was considered a god at his craft. So what did we do? We got busy and forgot all about it, of course. But as luck would have it we found another reference to the book and decided to cover it.

Thomas was the inventor of the Blue Blazer, the drink depicted in the picture to the right, and one that very few bartenders would have the stones to try (mostly because they'd probably get fired for it). The man also is credited with developing or inventing hundreds of other drinks, which was recently chronicled in the book Imbibe!, which includes anecdotes and cocktail recipes. But don't take our word for it...check out this write up from Publisher's Weekly:

cofounder of the Museum of the American Cocktail, Wondrich delivers a well-researched chronicle of Professor Jerry Thomas's life and times as late 19th-century bartender extraordinaire. From gold rush saloons in San Francisco to last calls in lower Manhattan, Thomas collected material for The Bartender's Guide, the seminal 1862 collection of cocktail recipes. Wondrich offers up 100 classic cocktails from Thomas's guide and other period sources, along with 16 new drinks that recall those golden days. Old-time tools, ingredients and measurements are conveniently converted to their contemporary equivalents, as julep strainers and toddy sticks are hard to come by. Fortunately, many of the concoctions transcend time in their simplicity. General Harrison's Egg Nogg, for example, calls for hard cider, sugar, an egg and some lumps of ice. For the newly minted offerings, Julie Reiner of New York's Flatiron Lounge conjures up a Cherry Smash that includes brandied cherries, cognac and Orange CuraƧao, and Wondrich weighs in with a glass of rye, simple syrup and Angostura bitters, which he calls a Tombstone. The result is a lovely homage to Thomas's indomitable spirits.

PS - We love the full title of this book, which is truly reminiscent of books from the 1800s but not conducive to a bloggers sense of keeping the post short. Screw it - the full name is Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to Professor Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar. Whew, that's long...we're going to shoot for something like that when we write our book.

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Posted by Jake Jamieson at December 10, 2007 7:28 AM
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