Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Most professions are either physical or mental. Bartending is both."

So I was chatting with my homie and fellow bartender Jeff a couple of weeks ago, (sorry for my hiatus), and he asked me, "Ive always wondered who the first bartender was....What is the history of the bartender?" This inspired me to do a little research.

Well as most could conclude, Bartending is one of the worlds oldest professions. "Historical accounts from the time of Julius Caesar show that inns situated along the major transportation routes served wine and provisions to travelers. In Rome, neighborhood taverns were meeting places for locals to enjoy drinking and gossip. There is evidence that even earlier the ancient Greeks had such places of entertainment and refreshment for travelers. No one knows how far back in time the notion of a tavern was first introduced. Initially, perhaps, someone found it profitable to provide his friends or neighbors something to drink in a room somewhere people could comfortably gather and relax or play." During ancient times in Rome, Greece and Asia the bars were referred to as public drinking houses where people would gather to relax and socialize. I personally believe the roots of bartending probably dates back to the continent of Africa as well due to the abundance of intelligent societies in those times. Prior to the 15th century the majority of bartenders were alehouse owners and innkeepers, a large number of whom were females. Bartenders were of high social and economic status and were held  high in regard in society. They owned land, collected art and were trendsetters. This tradition and status of bartending was passed on to the New World.

There is, however, one historical figure that changed bartending forever. He is the inventor of the classic cocktail, the father of American Mixology, the inventor of Flare, the author of the first bartender and recipe book and the  “the Jupiter Olympus of the bar,” to quote himself. His name - Jeremiah bka Jerry Thomas, aka "The Professor". His signature drink was called The Blue Blazer. "  The drink involves lighting whiskey afire and passing it back and forth between two mixing glasses, creating an arc of flame." He was born in 1830 in Sackets Harbor, NY. He learned bartending while in New Haven, Connecticut before sailing to California during the Gold Rush. His impeccable creativity and showmanship established the image of the bartender as a creative professional. During his career he made more money than the Vice President of the United States. He worked with a solid silver mixing set and bartending tools, and was often draped in gold, diamonds and jewels. In 1862 he finished writing The Bar-Tender’s Guide (alternately titled How to Mix Drinks or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion), which was the first cocktail recipe book ever published in the United States.

"A New Beverage is the pride of the Bartender, and its appreciation and adoption his/(her) crowning glory. In this entirely new edition will be found all the latest efforts of the most prominent and successful caterers to the tastes of those who patronize the leading Bars and Wine-rooms of America, as well as the old and standard favorite beverages, always in general demand."
- Jeremiah Thomas

He died December 15, 1885 in New York City.


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