His last great instinctive act was to jump off a subway platform to save the life of a man who had tumbled over the edge. A few years later, in the spring of 1948, he died at 73. Fifteen years before, in a newspaper article, he had been described as "the happiest millionaire alive."
MARTINIS: 12 TO 1
Visitors to the Kentucky Derby this weekend may very well, at one time or another, find themselves at the bar of Louisville's celebrated Brown Hotel. There, almost certainly, they will be waited upon by a bartender named Flaherty. In fact the customer may be confronted by half a dozen bartenders named Flaherty, an experience which can be quite a jolt to an already overwrought nervous system.
Nervous jolts are not the intention of the brothers Flaherty, of course, who are concerned only with being good bartenders. Charles, 41, arose through the dishwasher, kitchen steward and bellboy ranks to his present position of bar manager. John, '32, joined the act in 1941; Roscoe, 31, in 1943; Thad, 33, in 1948 and Claude, 45, in 1950. Garland, the 22-year-old baby, came to Louisville from the family home in Rhodelia, Ky. last fall and is a regular bellboy. His only bar duties are on paging, but he is nursing the ambition to join his brothers.
Part of the Flaherty family charm lies in a tribal ability to remember the client's favorite drink. Best at this is Roscoe, who frequently astonishes a visitor, even after a lapse of years, by remembering his name, his drink and probably his home town. This is not only flattering to the occasional visitor, it is profitable to regulars. Roscoe's mnemonic gift is the kind they can bet on—to win.
Since the buildup in bartending Flahertys has been going on for some years now, they have become a minor Derby institution all by themselves. Nonetheless, they refuse to conform to any popular conception of what a Louisville bartender should be during the Battle of the Bluegrass. They don't drink. They are disinterested in horse racing and particularly in the Kentucky Derby. And they consider mint julep an inferior product of their craft.
As a matter of fact, the most popular drink in this sector of the traditional bourbon country is the Martini, the best-liked odds being 12 parts gin to one part vermouth.
"It is the favorite around here, even above bourbon and Scotch," Charlie will tell you as he swirls ice in a pitcher. The pitcher chilled, he throws out the ice before pouring in the gin and vermouth.
"The trick is," he cautions, "to get them cold and not keep them sitting. Martinis are temperamental."