Harry Johnson

New and Improved Bartender's Manual

Harry Johnson will always be remembered as the "other" father of modern bartending in the United States, forever overshadowed by Jerry "Professor" Thomas. He seemed aware of and resistant to his legacy when he wrote in the 1900 edition of his book that he had published a bartending manual while working in San Francisco in 1860 with 10,000 copies, two years before Thomas' How to Mix Drinks was published.

While there has never been any evidence to support Johnson's claim, and it is hard to imagine all 10,000 copies being destroyed in San Francisco's 1906 earthquake and fire, there is no disputing the merits of his book, which was published in 1882, 1888, 1900 and 1934.

In addition to an exhaustive list of drinks, he included sections on the fundamentals of how to be a bartender and how to run a bar that still apply today. He gave sound advice on how to get a bartending job, and how to maintain cordial relations between bartending staff and management, how to pass on the knowledge effectively through apprenticeship, and how to treat patrons, and much, much more.

Let us hope in future Harry Johnson can be remembered for the care he put into sharing this wealth of knowledge. Whether he published first or second, there can be no denying his place in the history of bar service.

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