Trailblazing African American bartender Tom Bullock, who published his cocktail book The Ideal Bartender more than a century ago, has been honored with a mural in his hometown of Louisville. It depicts Bullock behind the bar serving Louisville’s official cocktail, the Old Fashioned.
Born in Louisville in 1872 Bullock became the first African American to publish a cocktail book. His 1917 release of The Ideal Bartender features 173 recipes, including his own “Old Fashion” and a Kentucky-style Mint Julep. Bullock got his start at the local Pendennis Club, which has long claimed the invention of the Old Fashioned cocktail since the 1880s.
The 64″ X 96″ mural provides brief descriptions about the Old Fashioned, Bullock and the mural’s artist, Kacy Jackson. It was recently installed on the front windows of Sway restaurant in downtown Louisville’s entertainment district. Sway, located on the first floor of the Hyatt Regency Louisville, is also a long-standing member of the city’s Urban Bourbon Trail.
It’s not the first time Bullock has been honored in Louisville, however. On the 100th anniversary of the publication of The Ideal Bartender two years ago, Copper & Kings Brandy Distillery launched The Ideal Bartender School.
This free 15-week course aims to educate students on the essentials of hospitality in a bar setting with a focus on spirits education, cocktail creation, beer and wine knowledge and bartending skills and techniques. The course is intended to celebrate the legacy of Tom Bullock and also provide those in need with a complimentary bartending education.