Jerry Thomas – The Original Bartender

Considered by most as the ‘original mixologist’, let’s take a look at the interesting life of the worlds most the popular cocktail connoisseur

If you’re a hard-core cocktail lover then you would have heard of Jeramiah P. Thomas, or more commonly known, Jerry Thomas. Born on October 30 1830, he is credited with the explosion of cocktail popularity throughout Manhattan and later, wider America. Referenced as the father of American mixology he certainly led an extraordinary life. Take a look at how Jerry Thomas came to be.


Born in the tiny town of Sacketts Harbour, New York, Thomas got his first bar tending gig in Connecticut before he jumped ship and sailed away to California during the 19th century gold rush. It is believed that while working at the Occidental Hotel in Seattle, Thomas was earning $100 a week which back then was more than Vice President of the United States. Mind blown! It’s unknown if he did ever find gold (clearly didn’t need it), but he certainly caught the travelling bug. Throughout his life he travelled across America collecting cocktail recipes from places like New Orleans, Chicago and Missouri.


Thomas is credited with publishing the first ever drink book in America in 1862. The book included some of his own creations as well as a lot of well-known concoctions. Throughout his life it was updated many times to include new recipes and is still available today!


Thomas, while skilled in mixology was better known for his flashy showmanship and flamboyant personality. Onlookers would revel in his impressive techniques which even included juggling bottles and cups. He wore a ton of eye catching jewellery, even embellishing his tools and cups with jewels.


Thomas ended up settling back in New York in his later years, where he managed several bars before opening up another bar on Broadway. He married and had two daughters.


In the end, after some bad wall street advice, Thomas lost everything and became broke. He had to sell his bar on Broadway and auction off his impressive art collection. Trying his luck one last time, he opened up his last Bar but by this time his popularity had declined and it was not a success. In 1885 at the age of 55, Jerry Thomas died of a stroke.

We have to give him some credit, to earn more than the Vice President of the United State is not easy feat! We’re definitely thankful for paving the way for cocktail phenomenon. Join us in Garden Bar to try some of our very own concoctions.