How to Mix Drinks

Or, The Bon Vivant's Companion

 Published in New York in 1862, this volume in the American Antiquarian Cookbook Collection was the first cocktail book published in the United States, and it was written by a “celebrity bartender” famous throughout the country.

 This seminal work is probably the most famous bartender’s guide and cocktail book of all time—nostalgic and delicious homage to a drinking era that is gone but not forgotten. Containing hundreds of drink recipes, the book collected and codified the oral tradition of mixed drinks from the early days of cocktails and included Thomas’s own creations as well. The guide laid down the principles for formulating mixed drinks in all categories, and it includes the first written directions for cocktails such as the Brandy Daisy, Fizz, Flip, Sour, and variations of the first form of mixed drink, Punch. There are also famous recipes like the Eye-Opener, the Locomotive, the Pick-Me-Up, the Corpse-Reviver, Chain-Lightning, and the Blue Blazer (Thomas’s signature drink involving lighting whiskey on fire and passing it back and forth between two glasses creating an arc of flame).


This edition of How to Drink was reproduced by permission from the volume in the collection of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts. Founded in 1812 by Isaiah Thomas, a Revolutionary War patriot and successful printer and publisher, the Society is a research library documenting the life of Americans from the colonial era through 1876. The Society collects, preserves, and makes available as complete a record as possible of the printed materials from the early American experience. The cookbook collection includes approximately 1,100 volumes.

About the Author

Jeremiah (Jerry) Thomas was an American bartender considered to be the “father of American mixology” because of his pioneering work in popularizing cocktails in the United States. His showmanship established the image of the bartender as a creative professional. He learned his trade in the East, but worked as a bartender in California during the gold rush, St. Louis, Chicago, Charleston, New Orleans, and New York. Thomas even toured Europe, where he displayed his elaborate, flashy techniques of mixology, often juggling bottles, cups, and mixers. Eventually he returned to New York where he opened his most famous bar on Broadway between 21st and 22nd Streets. At one point, he was earning $100 a week, more than the vice president of the United States. When he died of apoplexy in 1885, his death was marked by substantial obituaries across the country. The New York Times noted Thomas 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.”

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