Fri Feb 21, 2020 London

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The free spirits

Thai Dang Cao (1953 – 2014)

Thai Dang CaoThe eccentric owner of Old Brompton Road’s Nam Long Le Shaker was famed for creating the legendary Flaming Ferrari cocktail. A favourite of the likes of Lord Archer’s son, James, this lethal concoction consists of 100% proof rum, Chartreuse, Grand Marnier and Blue Curaçao. Of them Dang Cao commented: “If you drink three of them you kiss the ground like the Pope”. He occupied a throne-like seat in his establishment yet truly did good through philanthropically funding a school and clinic in Vietnam and of this nightlife legend’s passing, one customer concluded: “He was not a man of many words, but a creator some of my worst life hangovers”. Whilst Nam Long Le Shaker – established in 1987 – has been described as being “a place like no other”; Thai Dang Cao was most certainly “a man like no other”. The longest ever lock-in in the sky has commenced with his arrival.



21 comments on “Thai Dang Cao (1953 – 2014)”

  1. Omg, what a tragedy that ‘Thai’ has died. Do you know any more details about this? I spent many a night in there and even met my wife there! A really iconic figure for the area.

  2. Ah Thai I am so sad, you could be a rude grumpy git but we will miss u so! You were too young to die, what happened!!! You owned and ran a truly rare, fabulous bar where I got lashed so many times, had the most fun of my life, thanks for being part of my youth and making my youth, I will have a drink on you today!

  3. I am so at loss for words.The most unique person i met in my life has passed away.It was an honour and a blessing to have worked for him.Nam Long Le Shaker was the greatest school of life i have attended.I am so,so grateful to you my teacher!.Today ,there is nothing that is hard for me to do .
    I have earned my bowl of rice .Memories from Nam Long and gained friendships are a priceless treasure .Thank you .My thoughts and prayers go out to your family.You will be greatly missed and never forgotten .
    Your waitress Anamarija.

  4. Not sure I kissed the ground like the Pope more like fell to the ground and hurt my kisser. The place was legendary. It was an honour to have had a drink with him. Damn we are the same age. Too young to die.

  5. This is one man that deserves a prime position in Brompton Cemetry if ever there was one
    So many fun times – A total legend – RIP

  6. How sad!
    Jimmy Wooster once witnessed two ladies, unfamiliar with Tai’s unique brand of customer relations, being refused entry.
    Tai: “You no come in! You go away!”
    “Oh, why?” They asked
    Tai, exasperated: “You OLD! You UGLY!”

    1. And that is supposed to be witty? If you think so it bears out Doctor Johnson’s dictum that it takes a surgical operation to get a joke into the Scottish sense of humour

  7. Thai has gone so suddenly … we both shocked and so sad …
    Here is to convey our deepest condolences to Yen, Duyen and the family …
    We know how hard he worked to make Nam Long a legend in Chelsea …
    He was a rare controversial by nature but definitely not a boring, sometimes rude but also full of fun person, with lot of ideas and passion, some are still unfulfilled yet …
    Will missing him anytime we are in London again …
    NN & K

  8. Sadly one of the reasons to come and visit London has been taken from us. Thank you Thai for having NAM LONG Le Shaker at the end of my road. You were every inch a Londoner.

  9. What a sad news. Thaï will be greatly missed. I just can ´t count the numbers of evenings spent a Nam Long. I remember sitting on several occasions at this table talking French. This was an honour. Once we spent the whole night drinking whisky and smoking cigars (after the smoking ban 🙂 until 7am with the usual crowd. He was clearly a passionate person full of life and together with a strong personnality. Some would say he was grumpy but hearing him talking with passion about the orphanage he runned in Vietnam was something very spécial. We will miss you a lot. My thoughts go to the family and the staff. Does anybody know where and when the funerals will take place. ?

  10. RIP Thai, Nam Long will never be the same, but will visit it when it re-opens in Feb an raise a glass to you – such sad news x

  11. I only heard yesterday as have been away from London, friends posted the Shaker had re-opened as was planning to visit.

    Mr Thai was a close friend to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude, he asked me to go to Vietnam to write a piece on change in the country when I was at a turning point in my life; his work hard play hard ethic as I understood visiting Saigon with him (20 years ago) stemmed from his pride going back to his own country as a VIP after his exodas as a Mekong refugee and his determination to bring a fairer business opportunity for his fellow beautiful people after their own period of extreme suffering.

    I’m glad he lived long enough to see his change happen …. but heartbroken not to have seen him prior to his death…

    However all those who passed his discriminating (quite rightly) entry to his private table debates about the world of the day will know they, thankfully, will have the best company in heaven.

    XX Rest in Peace my friend

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