New book reveals the story of legendary bartender

New revelations have been made about legendary bartender Harry Craddock as part of an industry celebration of the man who wrote The Savoy Cocktail Book.

Normally believed to have been born in Chicago, he was actually born in the English market town of Stroud in the Cotswolds in 1876, according to cocktail historians Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller.

Researching their latest book, the pair also discovered that Craddock is buried in Gunnersbury cemetery in west London rather than being cremated as was originally thought.

His life was celebrated by an event in London organised by Chivas Brothers for Plymouth Gin, taking leading UK-based bartenders to the cemetery for a memorial service at Craddock’s grave followed by visits to The Savoy and The Dorchester, where he once worked, as well as to Simpsons-in-the-Strand and the new-look Café Royal.

A “cocktail time capsule” was created and installed at the Savoy’s museum next to the American Bar, with instructions for it to be opened in 2063.

The event was attended by leading bartenders such as Peter Dorelli, Erik Lorincz, Jake Burger, Alex Kratena, Ago Perrone, Mal Evans, Luca Cordiglieri, Alistair Burgess, Esther Medina Cuesta, Stuart McCluskey, Pete Jeary and Ondrej Pospichal as well as Plymouth Gin master distiller Sean Harrison.

Craddock emigrated to the US in 1897, going on to work behind the bar at hotels such as the Hollenden Hotel in Cleveland, Hotel Knickerbocker in Manhattan, Hotel Colonial in Nassau, Hoffman House in Manhattan and the Holland House, also in Manhattan.

During the First World War he became a naturalised American citizen but, with the introduction of Prohibition, returned to the UK, going to work at The Savoy, where he later headed the American Bar.

In 1930, he compiled the classic Savoy Cocktail Book and, in 1933, founded the United Kingdom Bartenders Guild with William J Tarling. After moving to the bar at the Dorchester, he retired and died on January 23, 1963, aged 87, and was buried in a pauper’s grave (pictured). He is credited with creating classic drinks such as the White Lady, Blood and Sand, the Flying Scotchman and the Thistle Cocktail.

Miller and Brown’s new book, The Deans of Drink, is subtitled “The Amazing Lives and Turbulent Times of Bar Legends Harry Johnson & Harry Craddock as Seen in a New Light”. It also tells the story of Harry Johnson, who was a bartender in the US in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and wrote the first cocktail book that documented a Martini and a Margarita recipe.

The Deans of Drink is published by Mixellany and available online at Amazon.

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