Although Tom Bullock didn’t invent the Old Fashioned — the official cocktail of Louisville — while tending bar at the Pendennis Club, he did help secure its legacy by bringing the recipe with him when he moved on to the St. Louis Country Club and including it in his 1917 recipe book, “The Ideal Bartender.”
Bullock, who was born in Louisville in 1872, became the first African American to publish a cocktail book when “The Ideal Bartender” came out, featuring 173 of his favorite drinks. He was known for his juleps as well as his version of the “Old Fashion.”
He was so beloved by the men he served, that the book’s introduction was written by George Herbert Walker, a member at the St. Louis Country Club and grandfather and great-grandfather of Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, respectively.
“I have known the author for many years, and it is a privilege to be permitted to testify to his qualifications,” Walker wrote in the intro. “In all that time, I doubt if he has erred in even one of his concoctions.”
Louisville is honoring Bullock with a mural, designed by the local artist Kacy Jackson, on the front windows of Sway, located on the first floor of the Hyatt Regency at Fourth and Jefferson streets.
The mural — which measures 64 inches by 96 inches — shows Bullock behind the bar, proudly serving up a proper Old Fashioned.
Jackson, 27, has helped create several murals throughout the city, including the ones of Albert Einstein and Nellie Crawford, the first African American actor to sign a film contract, both located in Shelby Park. And some of his artwork has garnered national attention, namely his portraits of Muhammad Ali.
In fact, during Ali’s memorial service in 2016, Jackson painted “The Greatest” on the steps of the KFC Yum! Center, where the ceremony was held.
He partnered with both Sway and Louisville Tourism for the mural, which also touts the Urban Bourbon Trail — of which Sway is a member.
This also may not be the first time you’ve heard Tom Bullock’s name in recent years, because in 2017 — during the 100th anniversary of the publication of “The Ideal Bartender” — Copper & Kings launched its Ideal Bartender School, which provides free bartending and hospitality education for those who apply and qualify.