The Jerry Thomas Project
It started in October…
Geeks With Drinks shared a link to Food Republic’s listing of the 50 Best Bars In The World, as determined by Drinks International. In the world!
Number 28 on that list — The Jerry Thomas Project — is a Speakeasy in Rome. The Speakeasy is named after Jeremiah Thomas, a bartending-cocktail-making pioneer from the 1800’s. His writings, creativity and showmanship earned him the nickname “Professor.” He wrote the first drink book ever published in the United States.
Next came Boardwalk Empire…
Jeff and I watched the entire series over the course of a couple months. I guess I got wrapped up in the Prohibition Era vibe. By the time we finished the series, there was no keeping me from experiencing The Jerry Thomas Project. Reservations set, the trip to Rome was coordinated to include picking out a puppy in the Abruzzo region (more about that later) and retrieving a watch Jeff left in Rome for repair over the holidays.
Our reservations were for 10 p.m., opening time for The Jerry Thomas Project. Considering we are usually sound asleep by 11, Jeff and I responsibly prepared by taking a late afternoon nap. We headed out for dinner and arrived at The Jerry Thomas Project about 5 minutes early. This Speakeasy is tucked away in a “vicolo” (alley) within walking distance from our hotel. Hmmm, how convenient!
The door at Vicolo Cellini #30 is nondescript — adorned only with a small gold colored plaque reading “Professor Jerry Thomas.” We rang the bell and right away a tiny “window” in the door flew open. We were assured they’d be opening for business in 5 minutes.
Promptly at 10, we were welcomed in and led to our reserved table near the bar. The lighting was soft, the decor was Roaring 20’s throughout. No flash photography allowed, but smoking is. I saw only a couple patrons light up. The air filtration system must be amazing because I didn’t notice the smoke at all.
The bartenders were reserved and professional. As expected, their technique for mixing cocktails was a show in itself.
We got a kick out of the sound of the ice shaking in the cocktail shaker. I could dance to the rhythm of that beat! And that beautiful shaking sound was frequent.
The Jerry Thomas Project is a private club. We filled out a membership form and paid our “dues.” No big deal — 5 euros each and our membership is good for a year.
After studying the menu, I ordered a gimlet (gin) to kick off the evening. Delicious! It went down pretty quickly. Thank goodness we were given a beautiful carafe of water infused with orange, and they kept that carafe full the entire evening. Jeff’s first drink was a Manhattan — he learned he hasn’t yet acquired a taste for Manhattans…
After the gimlet I decided to give some attention to my friend, Mr. Rum. I ordered a Zombie. Awesome! Jeff took my advice and ordered one as well.
It ended with tequila…
Both of my drinks were so good — and we were at one of the best bars “in the world”! I didn’t want the experience to end. I got a little crazy when it was time for cocktail number 3. I threw caution to the wind and asked the waitress for “something with tequila.” I figured I’d let the bartenders choose a cocktail for me. When the drink arrived, I was given a detailed description of the cocktail. You know what, though? I wasn’t paying attention. You can thank Mr. Gin and Mr. Rum for that!
Jackpot! Three winning cocktails in a row, and I was so happy I had the opportunity to experience The Jerry Thomas Project. By the time we left at 12:30 or so, the bar was buzzing, but everyone had a comfortable place to sit.
There was a well-behaved line of people waiting outside for a table to open up.
If you are in the area, I highly recommend making a reservation for The Jerry Thomas Project.
I could stay very busy visiting the bars on this list. Eight of the bars are in London. Ryanair has cheap flights to London from Rome. There’s one bar in Milan (an easy overnight train ride for us); two in Amsterdam — the Netherlands is one of my favorite places; one in Denver — we’ll be in Colorado this spring; and one in Prague — I’ve never been to Prague but it’s on my list!