Harry Craddock: The Bartender Legend and His Superstitions

  • By: BT Staff
  • Date: January 20, 2024
  • Time to read: 4 min.
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Harry Craddock is a name that is synonymous with the art of bartending. He was a legendary figure in the industry during the early 20th century, and his influence can still be seen today. But there is more to his story than just his skill as a bartender. Craddock was also known for his superstitions and beliefs, which played a significant role in his approach to mixology. In this article, we will explore the life and career of Harry Craddock and delve into the fascinating world of his bartending tools and practices.

Early Life and Career

Harry Craddock was born in Stroud, England, in 1875. He started his career in the hospitality industry as a waiter, eventually working his way up to become a bartender at the age of 28. In 1902, he moved to London and began working at the prestigious Claridge’s hotel. It was here that Craddock developed his skills and reputation as a master mixologist, earning him the nickname “Dean of American Bartenders in Europe.” He quickly became a high society and royalty favourite, and his creations were in high demand. Craddock’s career flourished, but it was not without its challenges. The onset of Prohibition in the United States in 1920 led to a decline in business, but Craddock persevered and continued to innovate and create new cocktails.

Notable Cocktails

Harry Craddock’s most famous contribution to the world of cocktails was his book, “The Savoy Cocktail Book.” The book contains over 750 cocktail recipes and is still considered one of the most comprehensive guides to making cocktails.

The Savoy Cocktail Book

One of the most intriguing stories behind one of Craddock’s cocktails is the story of the Hanky Panky. The cocktail was created for famous actress Ada “Hanky Panky” de Montmorency, who asked Craddock to create a drink that would “wake me up and then f*** me up.” The resulting cocktail is a combination of gin, sweet vermouth, and a few dashes of Fernet-Branca, a bitter Italian liqueur. The cocktail was an instant hit and is still enjoyed by cocktail enthusiasts worldwide.

Classic Cocktails

Craddock is also credited with creating several classic cocktails that are still popular today, including the White Lady, Corpse Reviver #2, and the famous Savoy Cocktail, the Corpse Reviver #1. His cocktails were known for their elegance and balance, and he was a master of combining flavours to create something unique and delicious.

The White Lady

Harry Craddock’s White Lady is a classic cocktail he is credited with creating during his time at the Savoy Hotel’s American Bar in London. The recipe includes gin, Cointreau, and lemon juice, shaken with ice and strained into a chilled glass. It is typically garnished with a strip of lemon peel. The White Lady has remained a popular cocktail in the decades since its creation and is considered a staple in the world of mixology.

Corpse Reviver #1

The Corpse Reviver #1 is a classic cocktail recipe that consists of equal parts of cognac, Calvados, and sweet vermouth, with a dash of absinthe. It is typically served in a chilled cocktail glass and garnished with a twist of lemon peel. The drink is known for its strong, complex flavor and is often enjoyed as a “hair of the dog” remedy for a hangover.

Corpse Reviver #2

The Corpse Reviver #2 is a classic cocktail first recorded by Harry Craddock in his 1930 book “The Savoy Cocktail Book.” It is a gin-based drink that also includes Lillet Blanc, Cointreau, lemon juice, and a touch of absinthe. The cocktail is often regarded as a “hair of the dog” drink intended to cure a hangover. It has recently gained popularity as a brunch cocktail and is often served with a cherry or lemon twist garnish.

Craddock’s contributions to the world of cocktails are immeasurable, and his legacy lives on in the many bartenders he has inspired.

Learn how to make some of Harry Craddock’s signature cocktails.

Superstitions and Beliefs

Harry Craddock, one of the most famous bartenders in history, had several superstitions and beliefs that he followed during his career.

He believed that the way a drink was made and the environment in which it was served was just as important as the recipe itself. Craddock was known to wear a red carnation in his lapel while bartending, as he believed it brought him good luck and protected him from harm. Additionally, he believed that certain days of the week were better for certain types of cocktails and refused to serve them on other days.

Craddock was also known for stirring his cocktails a specific number of times in a specific direction, believing it would enhance the drink’s taste. His attention to detail and belief in these superstitions helped him become one of the most successful bartenders of his time.

Legacy and Influence

Harry Craddock’s legacy lives on through his contributions to the bartending world. His famous cocktail recipes, such as the Corpse Reviver #2, White Lady, and the Savoy Cocktail Book, continue to be popular to this day.

Craddock’s contributions also extended beyond just recipes. He was an innovator in the field, introducing new techniques such as the “dry shake” and popularizing the use of ingredients like Cointreau and absinthe.

In addition to his technical contributions, Craddock set the standard for the role of a bartender. He was known for his impeccable customer service and ability to make each customer feel welcome and appreciated.

Craddock’s influence on the art of bartending can be seen in how modern bartenders approach their craft. His attention to detail and emphasis on hospitality set the bar high for those who came after him.

Overall, Harry Craddock’s impact on the world of bartending is immeasurable. He is remembered not only for his famous cocktails but also for his contributions to the industry as a whole. His superstitions and beliefs may seem eccentric to some, but they are a testament to his passion and dedication to his craft.