Dick Bradsell’s passing sent a shockwave through the cocktail community last week. As it has often been said in the days following the sad news, Bradsell was one of the most influential bartenders of the last thirty years. The UK (and the world’s!) cocktail scene wouldn’t be the same without his pioneering work. He has probably made more for the evolution of the cocktail in Europe in the late 80’s and early 90’s than any other bartender. A mentor to some of the brightest barkeeps of our time – from Nick Strangeway to Tony Conigliaro – he opened countless bars and created many modern classics, such as the Espresso Martini (invented after a famous model asked him for something that would ‘wake me up and then fuck me up’) or the Bramble. Difford’s Guide lists 30 of his recipes, from the Bikini to the Wibble, invented in honour of Havana Club Marketing Director Nick Blacknell when he was evangelizing for Plymouth Gin almost twenty years ago.
Over the last few days, much has been written about his career, the bars he worked at, the drinks he made. We’re not going to be able to do better than such fine writers as Robert Simonson or Theodora Sutcliffe, so we thought we’d redirect you to a piece Dick Bradsell wrote (he was also a talented writer) for Class magazine in 2001, and which Simon Difford has made available online in tribute to the great man. The article tells of Bradsell’s love for the Daiquiri and his trip to Cuba for the 2000 Havana Club Cocktail Grand Prix. We are honoured that he felt so much passion for the cantinero’s’ greatest drink, but that’s not the main reason for us to urge you to read his text. If you never got to meet him, his quest for the perfect Daiquiri – and the way he tells it – will let you know all there is to know about the man’s dedication to his craft. Whether you’ve had the opportunity to meet Dick Bradsell or not, chances are you were directly impacted by some aspects of his work. If you feel like paying tribute to one of our industry’s greatest lights, a donation page has been set up in favour of The Benevolent, the UK drinks industry charity.