Historical Flight: Harry Craddock

By Jonathan Laurel August 27, 2019 Cocktails

It’s no secret that Harry Craddock and his Savoy Cocktail Book are some of the most iconic and important elements of 20th century International cocktail culture.  Though a healthy discussion could be had about why certain people win the historical fame lottery over others in our small field, there’s no question Craddock’s compendium of cocktails is certainly an invaluable catalogue of early 20th century drinks.  

Harry Craddock was one of, if not the most famous bar man in New York in the era leading up to Prohibition, tending bar at the famous Holland House, formerly the base for George Kappeler, the most famous bar man in New York at the end of the 19th century.  When Prohibition went in to effect, Craddock moved to New York to take up the helm of the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel.  Curiously, Craddock’s appointment at the American Bar overlapped and was soon followed by the retirement of the equally iconic Ada Coleman who’d been at the bar since 1903. 

Craddock would go on to the Dorchester Hotel before retiring at the age of 72.  By then he was a man of myth, famous for his 2,000 index cards of cocktails, his book, his persona, and for burying flasks of cocktails and shakers in the walls of his establishments—a myth through and through. 

In honor of Craddock’s birthday, we are featuring three cocktails in a flight.  These are the Holland House “#2”—a formulation of his own that deliberately takes up the name of the house cocktail created by George Kappeler—with dry gin, dry vermouth, lemon, maraschino, and pineapple; the Leap Year, with genever, sweet vermouth, grand marnier, orange bitters, and citric acid; and famously, the White Lady, with dry gin, cointreau, lemon, sugar, and egg white.