“We hope you have a pleasant trip across the pond and are looking forward to a unique and fun-filled day touring London landmarks in the life of Harry Craddock.”
“Your Journey officially kicks off on Friday, January 25th, when you will meet the team at Gunnersbury Station at 9:00 a.m., at which time you will depart for the first stop of the tour. Please note that the specific destinations of the day will be kept a surprise to all participants so we will only be allowed to unveil the start and finish points at this time.”
“Throughout the tour, we encourage you to engage the various hosts from Pernod Ricard USA and Chivas Brothers, as well as our special guest hosts, for insights into the story of Harry Craddock and the Savoy Cocktail Book, as well as the unparalleled history of Plymouth Gin.”
“‘From Slings to Smashes, Fizzes to Flips,’ we hope you enjoy your gin-inspired tour in memory of Harry Craddock.”
…and that was all I knew as I arrived at Gunnersbury Tube Station, January 25, 2013.
Myself and a couple bartenders, along with Camper English, arrived at about the same time and we were shepherded down the street and into a vintage London Black Cab, in this case Geoffrey Canilao and Stuart McCluskey.
They even included Plymouth Gin fleece blankets, a good thing on this chilly winter day.
We grabbed some coffee and pastries, and as we waited for everyone to show up, it became apparent this would be a rather large group.
Ah, Pook is HERE. I’ve always wondered…
But, that isn’t the grave we are looking for…
Maximilian Warner gets the game going, with a welcome from Plymouth Gin and a summary of the day. Also on the podium are Nigel Barden and Anistatia Miller.
After Max’s introduction, Anistatia gets to the good stuff. In the first place, this IS Harry Craddock’s grave. Everyone had thought, up until very recently, that Harry had been cremated. However, calls to various cemeteries turned up this grave and date of death which matched Harry’s.
21 January 1963 and 24 January 2013; those are awfully close… Yes, this is the 50th anniversary of Harry’s Burial here at the Gunnersbury Cemetery.
It is, however, a shared grave. In his later years, Harry was not well, and did not seek the public light. Embarrassed a bit to end up on national assistance, this is his final resting place.
Our second revelation came regarding Harry’s national origin. He claimed to have been the last “American” Bartender to make a drink before prohibition took effect, but it turned out he was as American as John Lennon or Craig Ferguson.
He was born in Burleigh, Minchinghampton in England’s Cotswold’s on August 29th, 1875. The son of a Tailor and a Knitter, his first career was as a clerk. As with many people of that time, the US had its draw, and he took the trip the USA in spring of 1897. He bounced around the country a bit until he ended up in the Hotel trade in Cleveland, Ohio. First a waiter, he soon moved to bartender. With the portability of that trade, he relocated to Chicago, Illinois and landed a job at the Palmer House.
Above, Erik Lorincz, the current head bartender at the Savoy Hotel, pours a drink for Harry.
Four of the living head Savoy Hotel Barmen, Victor Gower, Peter Dorelli, Salim Khoury, Erik Lorincz, and Anistatia Miller, raise a Lillet Cocktail, one of his favorites, to Harry’s memory.
I’ve stolen this image from Max/Plymouth, as our whole group raises a glasses of Lillet Cocktails, to Harry.
And with that, we pile back into the cabs and head to our next mystery destination!