Ode to Tom Bullock

ideal bartender
ideal bartender

“Is it any wonder that mankind stands open-mouthed before the bartender, considering the mysteries and marvels of an art that borders on magic?” –Tom Bullock Among our cocktail books in our home library, we keep a framed image of a distinguished looking gentleman with coiffed hair, bow tie, and thin metal spectacles perched on his nose. Guests often ask if he’s family. We’d love to claim him as an ancestor. We love telling his story just the same, feeling as if he is part of our extended family of bartending. Every year we celebrate the seven days of Kwanzaa right after Christmas and with joy, we introduce the gent in the black and white photo as the first known African American cocktail book author —Tom Bullock.

Not much is known about Mr. Bullock. He appears to have been born in Kentucky to a freed married couple in 1873. He made bartending fame at the Pendennis Club in Louisville as well as the St. Louis Country Club. He served quite a few powerful people, including August A. Busch of Anheuser-Busch fame, as well as George Herbert Walker, the grandfather of our 41st President George Herbert Walker Bush.

In the forward of Bullock’s 1917 The Ideal Bartender guide, George Herbert Walker writes, “His work is before you. It is the best to be had. Follow on, and as you sip the nectar of his schemings tell your friends, to the end that both they and he may be benefitted.”

He dedicates his book “To those who enjoy snug club rooms, that they may learn the art of preparing for themselves what is good.”

As we welcome guests into our snug club room we call home during Kwanzaa, we like to offer some of these winter warmers from his book.


Pour into a Punch glass the Juice of 1 Lime and a little Apollinaris Water in which a heaping teaspoonful of Bar Sugar has been dissolved. Add 1 Lump Ice.

Stir well; dash with Champagne; stir again briskly; dress with Fruit and Serve.


photo by LeNell Camacho Santa Ana
photo by LeNell Camacho Santa Ana

Before a Fire or in a Hot Oven roast 6 large Oranges until they are of a light brown color, and then place them in a deep dish and scatter over them ½ lb. of Granulated Sugar and pour on 1 pint of Port or Claret Wine. Then cover the dish and set aside for 24 hours before the time to serve. When about

ready for the service, set the dish in boiling water; press the Juice from the Oranges with a large spoon or wooden potato masher and strain the Juice through a fine sieve or cheese cloth. Then boil 1 pint of Port or Claret and mix it with the Strained Juice. Serve in stem Claret glasses while warm. A little Nutmeg on top improves the drink, but should not be added unless requested by customer or guest.


  • 1 lb. white Sugar
  • Juice of 6 Lemons
  • 1 quart Guinness Stout
  • 1 quart Champagne

Pour into mixture of Lemon Juice and Sugar the Champagne and Stout, ice cold. Serve in Punch glasses dressed with Fruit.