Thai Dang

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Words by: Jane Ryan

Some drinks become famous for their taste, their simplicity or their exclusivity. Not many make it into the history books thanks to a group of infamous bankers.

But Thai Dang's Flaming Ferrari did just that. Now the creator of that lethal concoction of overproof rum, Chartreuse, Grand Marnier and Blue Curacao, all set on fire and drunk through a straw, has sadly passed away. But not before leaving a legacy or two to the hospitality world.

Thai Dang's bar was Nam Long Le Shaker on Old Brompton Road and was famed for drawing in the high reaches of London society ever since its opening in 1987. He said of his famous creation "if you drink three of them you kiss the ground like the Pope."

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The eccentric man himself did more than simply create an iconic shot and give life to horrific hangovers though. He was well known for philanthropically funding a school and clinic in Vietnam.

Thai Dang had many brushes with the rich and famous, although according to one story the rules applied no matter who you were; he even forced Prince William to swap shoes with a member of his security when the young royal turned up wearing less than appropriate footwear.

The group of bankers who named themselves after Thai's drink was known to include Jeffrey Archer's son James and his colleagues; all young CSFB hotshots in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

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Thai would hold court at his bar, playing host, remembering regulars and allowing people to buy into the mystic and theatre of the Flaming Ferrari. It might not be the most innovative, balanced or tasty drink out there, indeed far from it, but Thai, his bar, and his drink deserve a place in the industry history books.

As one of his many obituaries said "The longest ever lock-in in the sky has commenced with his arrival."

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