The international bar industry has been in mourning this week after the passing of cocktail legend Dick Bradsell.
Responsible for the creation of classics like The Bramble and the Espresso Martini, Bradsell was a major figure in the revival of the London cocktail scene – working in some of the most notorious bars of the Soho scene in the 80s and 90s.
His famed “vodka espresso” – now known as the Espresso Martini – was invented in Fred’s Club in 1984 when a supermodel – rumoured to be Naomi Campbell herself – requested a drink with that now famous phrase ‘wake me up, and then fuck me up’.
However, it was The Bramble that really helped make his name initially. According to the history books he was inspired by his childhood memories of picking blackberries on the Isle of Wight.
Bradsell was a true bastion of the cocktail world throughout his 40 year career, and has been variously described as a “cocktail king” by The Observer, while the New York Times named him “the patriarch of England’s cocktail uptick”. His influence on the scene has been undeniable.
Industry friends and colleagues took to social media to pay tribute to Bradsell, with cocktail historian David Wondrich tweeting: “Very sorry to hear of the loss of Dick Bradsell. Whoever’s reading this is in part reading it because of him. Vale atque in perpetuum frater”.
Paul Wootton, publisher of bars&clubs and a former editor of CLASS magazine in the UK, remembers him well.
“Dick usually shunned the limelight but his influence on the UK’s bar scene and beyond is immeasurable,” Wootton said. “His cocktail creations, which are now consumed all around the world, are a lasting legacy but his humility, sense of humour, dedication and professionalism left a lasting mark on anyone who had the good fortune to work with him. He was the consummate bartender, a master of his art. He had such grace behind the bar. Watching him work felt like a privilege – it was mesmerising.”
In memory of Bradsell, a campaign has been set up to raise money for industry charity The Benevolent – a charity that works to combat challenging social issues such as long-term illness, homelessness, addiction, poverty and disability as well as provide practical, emotional and financial support to those from the trade who are in need. Visit www.justgiving.com/DickBradsell.
Image care of the Just Giving page.