Today we remember and celebrate the life of one of
the most important names in cocktail history –
the one and only Dick Bradsell.
Richard Arthur Bradsell: 4th May 1959 – 27th February 2016.
Let’s raise a glass to Dick Bradsell, a pioneering mixologist and widely regarded as one of the world’s most influential bartenders. Born in Hertfordshire, Dick grew up on the Isle of Wight but moved to London at the the age of 18 (after a few too many raucous house parties!). He was set to work with his uncle at the Naval and Military club near Piccadilly Circus (known as the In & Out), and it was here that he learned the basics of hospitality, including one of life’s essential skills – how to mix a martini .
Over the course of his career, Dick worked in some of London’s most prestigious bars and restaurants, including Fred’s Club, The Zanzibar (a forerunner of The Groucho) and The Atlantic. It was during his time at Fred’s Club that he first started experimenting with gin cocktails, having been inspired by the spirit’s versatility and complexity. He soon became known for his innovative and inventive creations, which combined classic ingredients with contemporary twists.
Dick’s most famous creation is – at least in our opinion – the Bramble cocktail, which he invented in the mid-1980s. He has said himself that it was inspired by the fresh blackberries he used to pick when growing up on the the Isle of Wight .
Juice of one Lemon (25ml)
2 Barspoons Sugar Syrup
Shake the above ingredients over ice,
then strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice.
Lace with blackberry liqueur and garnish with
lemon and fresh blackberries.
The Bramble is a refreshing and fruity cocktail combining gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup, and blackberry liqueur; served over crushed ice and drizzled with a blackberry liqueur. The cocktail was an instant hit and quickly became a staple of bars around the world. Dick’s Bramble is still considered one of the most iconic gin cocktails of all time, and is a testament to his ability to blend classic flavours with modern techniques.
Another of Dick’s famous gin cocktails is the The Wibble, a fruity cocktail made with gin, sloe gin, and grapefruit juice, all mixed up with a hint of Crème de Mûre (or Blackberry Liqueur). The name is said to imply that while this drink may make you wobble, you won’t fall down  – though probably best not to test this hypothesis too far!
Shake all the above with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with a Lemon Twist.
Dick’s creativity and innovation have had a lasting impact on the world of mixology, particularly in the UK. He was a passionate advocate for the use of quality ingredients and always pushed for constancy in his creations. He was known for his mentorship and encouragement of up-and-coming bartenders, and was keen to promote the idea that bartending could (and should) be a real career choice, rather than a stop-gap job.
Dick’s commitment to his craft, and his dedication to elevating the art of mixology have made him an enduring figure in the world of cocktails. His legacy continues to be celebrated today, and Dick received numerous awards and accolades throughout his career in recognition of his contributions, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from Tales of the Cocktail in 2011 .
His cocktails have inspired countless bartenders and drinkers around the world, and he was well know for having a loyal following in London who would drink at whichever bar he was currently working behind. He understood the importance of a bartender’s role in facilitating a great night out for all guests, and he would invent you a cocktail of your own, whether you were a star or a regular .
“A good margarita should send you howling into the night”
Dick Bradsell was a visionary mixologist whose contributions to the world of cocktails have been immeasurable. His legacy continues to inspire bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts around the world, and his creations remain among the most beloved and iconic cocktails of all time.
As he himself once said, “I love creating drinks that people love to drink.” It is this love of both the craft and the people that has made his legacy so enduring.
Let’s raise a glass to Dick Bradsell.