Why We Drink This Night - The December 16th Manhattan Slur

By Ed Yowell

The Monday, December 16th Manhattan Slur, as always, will be informal and fun and a great way to meet fellow, food-active folks! But it will also be a very special edition of Slow Food NYC's signature monthly happy hour.

You may ask, "why is this Slur different from all other Slurs?" It is because at this Slur we will toast Professor Jerry Thomas, a singular New York bartender who, because of his role in pioneering cocktails in America — and, indeed, the world — is considered by many grateful drinkers to be "the father of American mixology."

Jeremiah (Jerry) P. Thomas (1830 – December 15, 1885), literally, wrote the book on cocktails, The Bar-Tender's Guide (or The Bon-Vivant's Companion or How to Mix Drinks), published first in 1862. In it, he codified for posterity the recipes of our founding American cocktails. It was his authorship, and his itinerant mixing — planting the cocktail seed like Johnny Appleseed planted apple pips — around the country, from New Haven to St. Louis, Chicago, San Francisco, New Orleans, Charleston, and, finally, New York, and on a European tour, that earned him the sobriquet (no doubt occasionally slurred) "Professor" Jerry Thomas.

The Professor's most famed saloon, opened in 1866, was a dive bar located in the basement of an elegant, classical, and still extant, brownstone building, located at 925 Broadway in Manhattan — alas, now a sober Restoration Hardware. It was here that Professor Thomas, with great showmanship and often juggling bottles and glasses, mixed Brandy Daisies, Fizzes, Flips, Sours, and his signature Blue Blazer, a libation dramatically prepared by lighting whiskey afire and passing it back and forth between two mixing glasses, creating a blue arc of flame.

The Professor, in addition to being a renowned bartender, was a well-dressed man-about-town and, reputedly, a "good sport." Towards the end of his life, he speculated and lost on Wall Street, causing him to lose his popular saloon. He passed on, a result of apoplexy, in 1885, at the age of 55. His death was marked across the United States by rightfully respectful obituaries. In the The New York Times, it was noted that the Professor was, "at one time better known to club men and men about town than any other bartender in this city, and he was very popular among all classes."

So, on Monday, December 16, 2013, from 7 pm to 9 pm, join fellow "Slow" folks, and historically minded drinkers, in a toast to commemorate the life, the liquid legacy, and the passing of a great New Yorker: the Father of American Mixology, Professor Jerry Thomas. We hope to see you there. Where? The Brooklyneer, offering artisanal food and drink imported from the County of Kings, located at 220 West Houston Street, between Bedford Street and Seventh Avenue South, remarkably (ironicly?), in Manhattan.

Event info: The Manhattan Slur - The Brooklyneer


Ed Yowell is a member of the Slow Food NYC Board of Directors and a Co-chair, with Martina Rossi Kenworthy, of the SFNYC Urban Harvest in Schools Program. Ed is also a member of the Greenmarket Farmer and Community Advisory Committee and a Co-chair of the Food Systems Network NYC.


Related Programs:  The Slur
Blog Category:  News