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Portrait by permission of The Valentine

John Dabney


One of the most famous bartenders of the formative period

John Dabney was born into slavery, under which he trained as a jockey, but ultimately became famous for his cooking, mint juleps and other bartending skills, in Richmond, Virginia. Simultaneously a universally-known figure in Richmond high society and a slave to the DeJarnette family, Dabney is known to have served figures such as Robert E. Lee and the Prince of Wales. Dabney eventually earned enough money to purchase both his and his wife’s freedom. Thereafter, Dabney ran a popular restaurant in Richmond. Dabney was the father of Civil Rights figure Wendell Phillips Dabney.

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