Mixologists, or bartenders, of the time were often skilled and jokingly referred to as pharmacists or chemists with a “medicine” chest. Prior to Prohibition, the bartender or mixologist had an admired role. Three of the most famous pioneer mixologists who worked in California were Harry Johnson, William “Cocktail” Boothby and Jerry Thomas. Born in 1830, Jerry Thomas is considered to be the “Father of the Cocktail.” He tended bar in the 1860s at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco, where, one legend claims, the martini’s history starts. In 1862, “Professor” Thomas published the Bartender’s Companion. He is also credited with creating the wildly popular Tom and Jerry cocktail at the Occidental. He later published How to Mix Drinks, or the Bon-Vivant’s Companion. This included his famous Blue Blazer, which is a flaming cocktail.
William T. “Cocktail” Boothby stood at an average height of 5’11’’behind the bar, but he was tall in demand during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A large portion of his career was spent at the elegant Palace Hotel on Montgomery Street in San Francisco. It was at this establishment where he created his signature “Boothby Cocktail.” The California native came from a restaurant family, so he likely learned his craft while working for his parents during the late 1800s. He wrote his first bartender book titled The American Bar-Tender