Next time you’re sipping that cocktail, toast to Jerry Thomas!
Don’t know who he is? If it weren’t for him, there would be no cocktail to toast. Self-proclaimed Professor Thomas was the first mixologist, ever, even before Tom Cruise. Well, at least, the one savviest enough to publish the first cocktail recipe book, How to Mix Drinks or The Bon Vivant’s Companion. From behind the bar at the Metropolitan Hotel in the 1860’s, he made not only drinks, but history with The Blue Blazer.
(The professor showing off!)
Two ingredients – Scotch whiskey and water – lit on fire and poured between two tankards until it was ready to drink. It was all showmanship and loads of third-degree burns. I’d been trying to find a bar that served The Blue Blazer since I picked up my own 1928 edition of How To Mix Drinks more than ten years ago in New York City. I had to have it.
Who, in this day and age, would I find daring enough to attempt this act of self-immolation for my drinking enjoyment? The bartenders at the Rib Room in my own hometown of London not only do it, but with pleasure, that’s who!
But before we dived in, we wanted to try a few other drinks to get ourselves warmed up, or should I say cooled down, for the main event. The Rib Room had created two ‘Sip Smart’ cocktails, only 120 calories apiece (yeah!), so how could we say no! We tried each one, the Skinny Sour and the Berry Spritzer, both to our satisfaction not only ‘cus they were calorie-friendly but ‘cus they were amazingly delicious.
After a few of those, and lining our stomachs with their newly created Sashimi platter (wild sea bass, salmon and yellow fin tuna and home-made mackerel tartar!), spring rolls, and fish & chips, we felt ready for the performance!
The Blue Blazer has matured since the early days and, here at the Rib Room, it’s now made up of 10-year-old Glenmorangie scotch, Carpano Sweet Vermouth and Bénédictine liqueur – a smooth, sultry, sweltering combination.
The only proper way to experience it without being there is to see it as it was happening – thus, the first Best Bits video was born:
Adding that je ne sais quoi (orange zest) to make it just right and then blowing it out like a candle!
Tom Cruise – try and top that!
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Best Bits: Travel Cheat Sheet
The Rib Room Bar & Restaurant:
Jumeirah Carlton Tower
On Cadogan Place
London, SW1X 9PY
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7858 7250
NB: I was the guest of The Rib Room and I can’t thank them enough for such wonderful hospitality. Thanks to them, I am now a very happy girl.