The drinks world pays tribute to cocktail legend Dick Bradsell

01 March 2016

The global drinks community is in mourning following the news of bartender Dick Bradsell's passing this last weekend, with countless tributes and stories pouring in.

Bradsell's daughter Bea posted the following statement: 'To the bartenders out there: I think what my Dad would want me to say is "think of your customer". On many occassions he’d say to me; "your average customer doesn't care who you are, they just want a good drink and quickly". I know Dad is known for the drinks he’s created, but that was such a small part of the job for him. It was always about serving people well, taking the time to care. It's always amazed me that he had regular customers (now friends) that had followed him from his very first cocktail bar the Zanizbar. Most of his cocktails didn't exist back then - what they followed was the service, and sadly that is a thing that is rapidly disappearing. So please take the time to get to know your customer, they may just be your new best friend.'

Mixellany’s Anistatia Miller said: ‘The Colony Room Club on Dean Street. Dick was three deep at the bar, but greeted Jared and I warmly and asked what we’d like to drink. We left it up to him. He pointed us to a table. Three minutes later he arrived with a round of gin and tonics. Busy as he was, we were surprised it wasn't a round of beers.

'Whilst he was closing, he asked us to stay behind then led us out the toilet window and into the toilet window at The Groucho Club where it turned out he was a member and didn't actually need to sneak in. Sitting with a pair of Martinis, he asked me in a most serious tone: "How many ingredients do you think make a proper drink?" I replied, "No more than three." He nodded approvingly and said, "Well then, we can be friends."'

Raise more than a glass

A fundraising page has been set up where you can leave a message celebrating Bradsell's life, and donate money towards drinks industry charity The Benevolent.

Bradsell's daughter Bea selected The Benevolent as the charity to receive the donations. 'They were very helpful to us over the past few months,' she told Imbibe. 'My Dad also really wanted to work to help educate bartenders on staying healthy despite the bartender lifestyle.

'We're all so busy taking care of our customers that we forget to take care of ourselves. Too many bartenders have passed away at a young age.'

The page, entitled 'Raise more than a glass for Dick Bradsell' was set up by a friend of his, Mark Jennings.

Tim Stones posted the following on Facebook: 'We once asked Dick to judge Rematch, fully expecting him to tell us to fuck off. Not only did he say yes, but he asked us if we'd mind if he did it in drag. We didn't.'

To which Paul Mant added: 'His exact words will never leave me: "Do you think this is something I could do whilst wearing women's clothing?" Class.'

Jon Anders Fjeldsrud said: 'Dick was the original punk, or maybe the last original punk. He was fair, he was just, and he was that person that always spoke up for the downtrodden, for the people that did not have a voice, sometimes just because of principles. He was one of a kind, but more than anything he loved his daughter, or more correctly adored. He will be missed.'

Martin Lam commented: 'I knew him during my time in Soho, which was his formative period – at places like the Zanzibar. He was clearly a kind of stellar force in the world that was emerging at that time, with modern bars and cocktail making in a way that had never been seen before. But he was so rooted in the traditional side as well – he had all the right elements. He was a lovely guy, and he was mischievous. I was always pleased to see him.'

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