Whisky Magazine Issue 135
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Why London is so important to the world cocktail scene
This month was a sad month for us mixologists. On the 27 February, Dick Bradsell, father of the many modern classic cocktails and key player in revolutionising the scene in the 1980s, passed away. A great loss for the industry, he was a man that inspired, invigorated and shaped many careers. This tragic event made me reflect on the legends of the London cocktail scene.
London is considered one of the main hubs of the cocktail scene. With five venues being part of the top ten best bars in the world, its influence is far reaching and many bartenders and aspiring industry workers move to London to gain experience and be surrounded by the best, including myself. Even though the city that never sleeps has always had its part in the cocktail scene, especially over the past 80 years, it is often forgotten that London was not as prominent and influential as it is today.
In the early 1900s, despite having multiple ‘American bars' which were serving fancy American drinks and used ice, the drinking scene was reputedly quite bad.
The declaration of Prohibition in the US changed everything. With most legal bars closing across the US, many bartenders found themselves out of work and had to make a choice and move to Europe or start a new line of work. Enter Harry Craddock, born in the UK in 1875, he moved to the US at the age of 22 and worked some of the most popular bars of the time such as Holland House and the Knickerbocker. He is reputed to having possibly served the last cocktail ...