Legendary barman Dick Bradsell passed away over the weekend, leaving a community of bartenders bereft. Cocktail aficionados around the globe raised a glass to a legend, the man who Gary Regan correctly credited with “single-handedly changing the face of the London cocktails scene.”
The 1980s were dark days for drinking, and Bradsell was “a leading light when there were few” in the industry. Lost in a sea of sour-mix Kamikaze shots, only a handful of bartenders were interested in the craft of cocktails. In New York, Dale DeGroff was returning to the classics and popularizing now-indispensable drinks like the Cosmopolitan. Across the pond, Bradsell jump-started the English craft cocktail movement. Behind the stick at London’s Fred’s Club and Soho Brasserie, he created mainstays including the now-legendary Espresso Martini, originally known as the Vodka Espresso, and the Bramble, a drink that’s lesser known in the States but can be found “on almost every British bartender’s short list.”
His other creations include the Wibble, the Treacle, the Carol Channing and the Russian Spring Punch. But it’s the Espresso Martini, for better or worse, that will be his legacy. Simon Difford recounts that—so widespread is acclaim for the creation—Bradsell “can rarely enter a bar without an enthusiastic bartender thrusting his version of the drink at him.”
If you’d like to help raise more than a glass for Bradsell, a JustGiving page has been set up in his memory. Proceeds will benefit The Benevolent, a U.K. charity that supports bar-industry workers and veterans.