Jerry Thomas Rome: speakeasy & cocktail bar
The Jerry Thomas Project, a speakeasy and spirits emporium in the heart of Rome, is a high-concept cocktail bar which is glamourous and fun. While the compact bar is distinguished by low-slung stools in its dim interior, impeccable service and a commitment to pushing the boundaries of mixology take this experience into a high-end league of its own.
Expect a bar named after the godfather of bartenders – Jerry Thomas himself – to combine excellent drinks with a whiff of nefarious business and a vintage soundtrack. The eponymous Thomas was a an American bartender who owned and operated saloons in New York City in the mid 1800s. Famed for bringing civility to the bar scene as well as creativity to mixology, he apocryphally earned $100 a week while working at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco – more than the Vice President of the United States at the time.
Thomas was a flair barman – perhaps the first to be known coast to coast – who famously toured Europe with a solid silver set of cocktail tools and wrote one of the first guides to mixing cocktails. The Jerry Thomas Project in Rome combines this sense of flair with a meticulous eye for detail. Due to his encyclopedic knowledge of drinks and Renaissance-man range of interests, Thomas was dubbed ‘The Professor’. This title has been borrowed by the Rome speakeasy and channelled in the Jerry Thomas Rome in-house spirits project, Del Professore.
The Jerry Thomas Project in Rome has immaculately detailed nooks for drinkers – including gangsters’ corner – which is dressed with THAT mug shot of Sinatra and a collection of photos of small-time and not-so-small-time historic criminals. As you’d imagine, there is the usual speakeasy protocol – including a password to get in – and reservations are mandatory. As the bar is small, bookings are limited to the pre-announced number of guests and a pretty tight time slot, but that’s the price of drinking in an iconic cocktail bar.
How do you get into Jerry Thomas Speakeasy?
Planning your night at the Jerry Thomas Speakeasy in Rome starts with booking your table via the Jerry Thomas Rome website booking module. Remember, this is a pretty bijoux bar so the maximum booking is for 10 people (although honestly, this is not the sort of bar you bring 10 people to. Plan for a cosy night of 2-4 people max). I’ll let you into a secret – this is also a bar I would also happily attend on my own!
Now, you’ll probably notice that the time slot conceded via the booking app is just 1 hour and a quarter. Jerry Thomas Rome has very limited seating so management have made a decision to give all punters a chance to visit and that means keeping visits brief. Of course, if you are here during a very chill midweek night there may be some leeway on this but it’s best not to argue with the staff.
Once you have your booking confirmed, the next step is to obtain the password. A question on the history of the bar industry is buried on the homepage of the Jerry Thomas Project website which you have to answer via the web form. If your answer is correct, you will be sent the password of the day.
An adventurous drinks list
Dubbed ‘Drink Immortali’, Immortal Drinks, the latest Jerry Thomas signature drinks list represents an ambitious cocktail menu which seeks to redefine past, present and future.
While ‘twist on a classic’ is an evergreen motif of the Jerry Thomas Project approach, Italy’s most famous speakeasy renders the world’s most iconic drinks eternal with a few deft touches. What is particularly impressive is the fact that the new drinks list is born from researching the experiences and tastes of the over 300,000 guests that have passed through the Jerry Thomas Project, while the cocktails themselves are created from fragments soaked in alcoholic solutions.
General Manager Simone Onorati confirms that inspiration for the drinks comes from “mixology, art, history, music, gastronomy, cosmetics, perfumes, and much more. There are infinite fields that we observe and from which we get involved and sometimes overwhelmed…”
The history of Jerry Thomas Rome
The founders of the Jerry Thomas Project, Antonio Parlapiano (Il Professore), Leonardo Leuci (Il Presidente), Roberto Artusio (El Chaman) e Alessandro Procoli (Il Papi), created the establishment as an after-hours club for barmen in 2010. Here, mixologists from across Rome – and eventually from across the world – met to concoct new cocktails and also create a new spirits line. Its fame quickly spread, and a few years later the bar was opened to the general public, while maintaining the unique speakeasy vibe with a fairly formal approach. Today, it is still considered the best speakeasy in Rome and perhaps the best cocktail bar in Rome for its commitment to pushing and pioneering the frontiers of mixology.
Testaccina was a guest of the Jerry Thomas Project Rome
The Jerry Thomas Speakeasy | Vicolo Cellini 30 | Roma