Skip to content Skip to Menu KAL Accessibility Statement

OP: How to Mix Drinks or The Bon Vivant's Companion

Write a review
| Ask a question
by Jerry Thomas

Known as the first American cocktail book, How to Mix Drinks or The Bon Vivant’s Companion was published in 1862 and firmly established the foundation for the American art of cocktail mixing. Its author Jerry Thomas (1830–1885), included head bartender at NYC’s Metropolitan Hotel on his lengthy CV. 

Thomas called his book The Bar-tender’s Guide for its first two printings, only later retitling it The Bon Vivant’s Companion, and it remained in print with that name until the early 1890s. For many years thereafter the book disappeared from sight, no doubt a consequence of the temperance movement and, later, Prohibition.

This printing includes over 200 cocktail recipes—including Thomas’s own invention, the Blue Blazer, which involves tossing an ignited mixture of boiling water and Scotch between two mugs in a stream of flames—as well as fifteen non-alcoholic “temperance drinks.” The latter half of the book contains detailed instructions on the distillation process and over 400 recipes for 10 gallon batches of cordials, liqueurs, and the like, contributed by Christian Schultz.

Our copy bears the original publication date, 1862, as well as 1876—when it was entered into the Library of Congress—on the copyright page. Despite the 1876 date, however, this copy does not yet include the Tom Collins cocktail, which famously first appeared in the revised edition published that year. 

The book suffered a good bit of damage to its spine, so we had it rebacked with a handsome burgundy cloth, blending nicely with the original boards. The original spine with its elegantly gilt-stamped title has been laid on, though dimmed somewhat with age and wear. The popularity of the book was such that the publishers raised the original price of $1.50 to $2.00 to $2.50 within the first year. The $2.50 price of our copy is just visible on the spine under the title.

The interior is in excellent condition with few blemishes, a strong Very Good Plus. The title page is chipped along the fore edge, an apparent manufacturing error. A rare find, indeed. We are thrilled to offer this important piece of cocktail history.

Shopping Cart