Jerry Thomas

Jerry Thomas, often nicknamed ‘Professor’ Jerry Thomas, was born in Jefferson County, New York and he trained as a bartender in Connecticut before moving to California. Although he returned to New York in 1851 and ultimately settled there, the early years of his career saw him travelling and working through the United States and in Europe. He excelled in the performance elements of mixology, becoming renowned for his elaborate techniques and flashy style. He published the first edition of How to Mix Drinks in 1862, thereby initiating the codification of a discipline that had previously been entirely oral. He would come to revise and augment the book several times in the course of his lifetime, notably giving greater prominence to cocktail recipes, which formed only a small part of the initial publication. The posts for which he was most famous were as head bartender at New York’s Metropolitan Hotel, and at his own bar on Broadway in New York. He was a recognised man about town, although while in New York he married and had two daughters. He lost his fortune in ill-advised speculation on Wall Street and was forced to sell his bar. This was a blow both professionally and personally, and his subsequent ventures never achieved the same success that he had enjoyed earlier in life. He died of apoplexy in New York in 1885, at the age of fifty-five.
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