Essential figures

Hi! I hope you’re all having a lovely Summer!

Related to our discussions of the Canon and the other essential literature and media of cocktail culture, I am trying to sort out a list of the key personnel in the history of mixed drinks: writers, bartenders, influencers. I do want to try to draw a distinction between the unimpeachably essential, and the many who have made worthy contributions. For now, I’m cutting off at around 1999 because I want to avoid awkwardness around the living.

This is a “wiki” posting, so please go right ahead and add/edit.

Figures marked with an asterisk appear to have been influential at their time, based on references.

== Essential figures ==

Richard Stoughton - De-facto inventor of the cocktail
James Ashley - First celebrity mixologist
Mrs. Gaywood - Mrs. Gaywood and the barmaids she supervised were the first drink mixers of public record
Cato Alexander - Owned and operated the definitive “sporty” American bar during the formative period.
Orsamus Willard - One of the most famous bartenders of the formative period; popularized American iced drinks to an influential audience and shaped standards of bar service
John Dabney - One of the most famous bartenders and standard setters of the formative period
Jerry Thomas - The most famous bartender of the mid-19th Century; author of the first recipe book of the American bar
William Schmidt - The most famous bartender of the late 19th Century
Bill Boothby - The dean of Bay Area pre-Prohibition mixologists
Henry Ramos - One of the most famous American bartenders ever
Charles Mahoney - Wrote the second book about managing a cocktail program
Jacques Straub - Compiled one of the main historial drink references
Tom Bullock - Wrote second to last major cocktail book prior to Prohibition; first African American to write a cocktail book
Hugo Ennslin - Wrote a wildly influential cocktail book as Prohibition loomed
Robert Vermeire - Wrote the best-selling cocktail book, which also was the first to really integrate the new work in Europe with that from the American side [is that accurate?]
Harry McElhone - One of the most famous and productive bartenders and mixologists ever; owned and operated Harry’s Bar in Paris
Harry Craddock - Wrote The Savoy Cocktail Book; co-founded the UKBG
Frank Meier - One of the most famous bartenders ever
W. J. Tarling - One of the most famous English bartenders; co-founded the UKBG
Pedro Chicote - Most famous bartender of mid-Century Spain
Constante Ribalaigua Vert - The dean of Cuban bartenders, and one of the most famous bartenders ever
G. Selmer Fougner - Invented drink writing as we’ve known it since Prohibition
Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt (Donn Beach) *
Cora Irene “Sunny” Sund - Built out Don the Beachcombers as a real business, expanding it across the United States
Victor Bergeron - Founded Trader Vic’s exotic restaurant chain, created the Mai Tai
Gerardo Corrales - Editor of the oficial manual of Cuba’s Club de Cantineros
Charles Baker - Wrote the “Here’s How” column in Gourmet, yielding two of the most distinctive books about mixed drinks
Ted Saucier - Kept cocktail culture alive in New York society during 1950s and 1960s [?]
Alan Stillman - Created T.G.I. Friday’s and the party bar
Joe Baum - Critical link between the pre-Prohibition American Bar and the Cocktail Renaissance in the United States
Alice Waters - By way of her enormous influence on American restaurants, creditable with defining the overarching culinary context and values for mainstream contemporary cocktails

Other notable historical figures that maybe don’t quite make the above list:

Georg Vennigerholtz - Helped introduce more elaborate German mixology to the American Bar
Joseph Santini - One of the most famous bartenders of the mid-19th Century; invented the Brandy Crusta
Martha King Niblo - Arguably the first female celebrity bartender in the United States; helped popularize the Sherry Cobbler
Charles Dickens - Foremost promoter in letters of civilized drinking [?]
Ellen Moon - A most famous Bay Area saloon keeper of the mid-19th Century
Dick Francis - One of the most famous standard setting bartenders of the formative period
Leo Engel - The most prominent of early emissaries of the American Bar to London
Charlie Paul - A prominant emissary of American cocktail culture to London
Frank Newman - [TODO]
Edward Spencer - Wrote about drinking, past and present, in turn-of-the-20th-Century London
Vincent Miret - Co-created and popularized the Sazerac as it is now known, generally set New Orleans cocktail culture on its 20th Century course
Billy Wilkinson - Co-created and popularized the Sazerac as it is now known; generally set New Orleans cocktail culture on its 20th Century course
Jack Grohusko - [TODO]
Eddie Woelke - One of the most famous bartenders of the 20th Cetury and notable link from pre-Prohibition to post-Prohibition in the United States
Ada Coleman - Head bartender at The Savoy Hotel
Jose Otero - Created and operated one of the most famous and enduring cocktail bars of all time
Oscar Tschirky - Oversaw (as maître d’hôtel) bar of the Waldorf-Astoria; massively influential figure in hospitality from the 1890s until Prohibition
Albert Stevens Crockett - Collected histories of the pre-Prohibition bar life at the Waldorf-Astoria
Mariano Licudine - The creator of the drinks program at the Mai Kai, Ft. Lauderdale
Ray Buhen - Key bartender in the history of Tiki bars and drinks; created the Tiki Ti
Patrick Gavin Duffy - Notable link from pre-Prohibition to post-Prohibition in the United States
Joe Scialom - One of the most famous 20th Century bartenders
Crosby Gaige - Post-prohibition taste-maker
Lucius Beebe - Post-prohibition taste-maker
Oscar Haimo - Relentlessly documented the post-Prohibition cocktail world and started one of the first post-Prohibition professional organizations
Luigi Veronelli - [TODO]
Maria Dolores Boadas - The most famous Spanish bartender of the latter 20th Century
John Doxat - [TODO]
J. “Popo” Galsini - [TODO]

Essential figures of the 1980s-1990s who set up the Cocktail Renaissance

Charles Schumann - Created the Cocktail Renaissance in Germany through his Munich bar and publications
Dale DeGroff - Progenetor of the Cocktail Renaissance in the United States
Salvatore Calabrese - [TODO]
Toby Cecchini - Created the Cosmopolitan (as it became known)
Shinichi Ikeda - Brought Japense cocktail culture to New York City at Angel’s Share bar
Jared Brown - Enthusiastic leader/educator/publisher/font of enthusiasm near the core of the early days of the Cocktail Renaissance
Anistatia Miller - Enthusiastic leader/educator/publisher/font of enthusiasm near the core of the early days of the Cocktail Renaissance
Murray Stenson - At the Zig Zag Cafe in Seattle, quietly, and in relative isolation, created (2002) one of the first cocktail revival bars, which went on to be the anchor of the Cocktail Renaissance in the Pacific Northwest
Jonathan Downey - Brought Sasha Petraske’s Milk & Honey—and the Cocktail Renaissance—to London
Dick Bradsell - Dean of English bartenders during the Cocktail Renaissance
Jeff Berry - Singlehandedly recovered the recipes and stories of many lost exotic drinks such as the Zombie, and their creators
Kazuo Uyeda - [TODO; introduced Japanese bar technique to “the West”, but that was later]
Paul Harrington - Arguably, launched the Cocktail Renaissance
Gary Regan - Anticipated the Cocktail Renaissance and was, with Dale DeGroff, its early leader; wrote The Joy of Mixology
Robert Toomey - Promoted interest in cocktails and connected enthusiasts cross-country as the Cocktail Renaissance was beginning
Ted Haigh - The most prominent of the enthusiasts and collectors to help launch the Cocktail Renaissance in its eary years
Robert Hess - The great facilitator of the Cocktail Renaissance its early years
Sasha Petraske - Created Milk & Honey in New York and trained a couple generations of bartenders for the Cocktail Renaissance
Ted Breaux - Creditable with bringing back absinthe, largely extinct since the early 1900s

Historical figures who were relatively obscure or regional in their day, but whose writings have proven highly valuable to or influential on the Cocktail Renaissance

Harry Johnson - Wrote the first book about managing a cocktail program and invented bar management consulting
Christopher F. Lawlor - Wrote an bar book that shows what was happening in the Ohio bar scene
John Applegreen - Wrote the first professional pocket reference for mixology
Schönfeld & Leybold - Co-wrote the primary document of pre-war German mixology
George Kappeler - Wrote (arguably) the best 19th Century cocktail book
Stanley Clisby Arthur - First author to show interest in the origins and history of individual drinks.
David Embury - Wrote the first theoretical work on mixed drinks
“O. H. Byron” (whoever that really was) - Attributed book is a major source of drink recipes from the early 1880s
Theodore Proulx - Wrote an interesting early cocktail book that shows what was happening in Chicago with drinks in the 1880s
Louis Fouquet - [TODO]
Louis Muckensturm - Wrote an unusual cocktail book [?]
Jacinto Sanfeliu Brucart - Unsung stalwart of mid-Century Madrid mixology
Stan Jones - Wrote the only important drink book of the 1970s

2 Likes

Added a couple. Will think on it and add more.

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Who was John Danny? I’m struggling to find a reference.

That must’ve been a typo. I’ve got a few more to add, though. Most are well known. Valentino Clemente was the dean of Italian Dolcee-Vita era bartenders.

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(And indeed it was a typo, for John Dabney.) I moved a couple of people up from the lower list: Henry Ramos was enormously famous, as was Frank Meier, and both more so than many on the top list. Sam with G. Selmer Fougner, who founded the field of mixography as we know it (for better or worse). I added Richard Stoughton to thee list because his relentless advertising for his bitters and his instructions for their use (mixed with brandy, wine, ale, tea, whatever) put us on the road to the Cocktail, and much closer to the last exit than the first.

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Perhaps we should consider a different organizational scheme that separates out historical figures whom we feel only retroactively made an important contribution, such as helping us understand the past, even if they had little apparent influence upon it? E.g., Proulx.

I think that’s a good idea. I would probably move the end a little past 1999, too, to capture the three or four years of ferment before the craft cocktail explosion, but that’s very much a judgment call.

I went and tentatively marked with an asterisk those I believe to have been influential during their day. There are some I left unmarked because I’m not really competent to judge. Please feel free to rearrange or delete the markings—they’re just a first pass.

I took a stab at rearranging the names, this time into four buckets. Probably got some wrong.

I have attempted to draft summary justifications for the inclusion of each individual on the list. Some are a bit grasping.

Given that it already includes Richard Stoughton, would it make sense to include notable visionaries from the product side (legendary master distillers, etc.) in a proto-hall-of-fame list like this?

And not to make work for anyone, but I’d personally find dates (where known) to be helpful and instructive.

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Stoughton’s inclusion is due to the instant purl product he was pushing that was, in essence, a cocktail in all but name.

I’d love to see a similar directory of notable visionaries from the product side, although I‘d prefer to see that be a separate list, for various reasons.

I am feverishly marshaling all the dates for these people, along with related biographical and contextual essentials. The scale of this endeavor I significantly underestimated, but I’m getting there.