Tom Bullock was an African-American bartender who worked at the Pendennis Club in Louisville in the 1890s. He is often credited with creating the Pendennis Club’s version of the Old Fashioned cocktail with muddled fruit. There are a couple of other candidates for the creation of this cocktail, and I think it most likely that it was not Bullock. He was working at the Pendennis Club about the same time as the recipe gets into the industry press, but the recipe he published does not use muddled fruit.*
Bullock left Louisville and moved to St. Louis to work as the bartender at the St. Louis Country Club at the turn of the twentieth century. He was a successful bartender there and was encouraged to write this book. It was published in 1917 and copyrighted by Bullock. This is interesting as it indicates that he did not want to lose control of his intellectual property. Unfortunately, Prohibition happened just a few years later, squashing the sales of cocktail books in the United States. Fortunately, VintageCocktailBooks.com reprinted the book in 2008, making it a book that can be purchased today.
The Ideal Bartender, Tom Bullock, St. Louis, Mo., Buxton & Skinner Printing and Stationary Co., 1917. Introduction, Index. 53 pp.
This is a very simple book of not even a hundred pages, but it is still a classic cocktail book. Yes, Tom Bulluck was an African-American, but that is not the only reason the book is a classic recipe book. Bullock shared his recipes of cocktails he was making in this era before Prohibition. The book gives the reader a glimpse as to what people were drinking at the time. These cocktails were being served at the St. Louis Country Club, but also reflect what Bullock had learned over his career in Louisville and St. Louis.
The book is not fancy and there are no illustrations of the cocktails. The photograph in the book is a photograph of Bullock in the first pages of the book. The recipes are listed in alphabetical order by the name of the cocktail. Bullock did not try to split the recipes into categories by the spirit used or type of drink such as punches or some other category. The book does end with an index of the cocktails to make it easier to find a recipe, but if you know the name of the cocktail, the index is not necessary.
The Ideal Bartender is a book that should be part of everyone’s library if they have an interest in cocktails. The book is one of the easiest to use and the recipes are well written and easy to make. It is an important piece of history that deserves a place on every spirits library shelves.
Old Fashioned Cocktail
Use a Toddy glass. 1 Lump of ice. 2 dashes of Angostura bitters. 1 lump of sugar and dissolve in water. 1 ½ jiggers of Bourbon whiskey. Twist a piece of lemon skin over the drink and drop it in. stir well and serve.
(Learn about The Ideal Bartender School here)
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller
February 26, 2021 at 12:30 pm
The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience has a new tasting experience that revolves around Tom Bulluck.
February 26, 2021 at 3:33 pm
I have heard that and George Harrison is playing the role of Bullock. I need to get down to see this presentation. George is a man of many talents, but I have not had one of his cocktails.
February 27, 2021 at 12:31 am
Didn’t realize the Beatles were into bourbon!