In 1848 California’s Gold Rush was attracting a variety of characters from all over the United States and abroad. By 1855 over 300,000 hopefuls had converged on the “Golden State” with dreams of striking gold and making it big.
Among those hopefuls was Jeremiah P. Thomas. Thomas was an 18 year old New Yorker when the Gold Rush started. He made his way to California by boat and got by working as a gold prospector, a minstrel show manager and a bartender. By the age of 21 he gave up trying to strike gold and moved back to New York City to pursue a different kind of dream.
After finding a space below the Barnum’s American Museum he opened his first NYC saloon. His talent as a bartender earned him the nickname “Professor Jerry.” He was a flashy bartender known for juggling bottles, glasses and mixers.
After establishing a reputation in NYC he eventually hit the road working as head bartender at hotels and saloons all over the country. While working at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco he was earning an unheard of $100 a week (more than the Vice President of the United States at the time).
Throughout his career Thomas has been credited with developing several cocktails. His most flashy being The Blue Blazer. The Blue Blazer’s preparation involves lighting whiskey on fire and passing it between two mixing glasses to create a rainbow of flame.
In 1862 Thomas wrote the “Bar-Tender’s Guide: How to Mix Drinks or The Bon Vivant’s Companion.” It was the first book of its kind published in the United States. Up until then the only way to learn how to make a proper cocktail was to learn it from another bartender. This book cemented his legacy as “The Father of American Mixology.”
It was in this groundbreaking book that the Whiskey Smash was formally introduced to the world.
If you want a classically made Whiskey Smash by a recognized expert in mixology ask for Julio Cabrera at The Regent Cocktail Club in Miami Beach. In addition to being an expert in the classics, Julio was recognized by GQ in 2013 as the Most Imaginative Bartender of the Year. Tell him Toys for Boys sent you.
Make it yourself…
Half lemon, cut into wedges
4 mint leaves
.75 oz simple syrup
2 oz whiskey
1 mint sprig
Muddle the lemon in a shaker
Add all the ingredients into the shaker fill it with ice.
Shake well and double strain into a rocks glass filled with ice.
Strike a mint sprig with your hands and add it as garnish.
Have it made by an expert…