Alan Moore has worked as a bartender for the last eleven years. His first job was at a local pub in his home city Galway, when he was only 16 years old and his career has progressed at a steady pace since then: a nightclub, three years at the G Hotel and then an opportunity to move to Dublin, where he mixed drinks at The Dylan Hotel for six months.
“I had the opportunity to work with Paul Lambert [Award winning bartender, currently leading The Bling Pig Speakeasy] and I grabbed that with both hands”, Alan stayed with Lambert for two years until he got offered the position as Head Bartender at Lemuel’s. “I said yeah, and here I am”, his logic is sound.
Lemuel’s is The Conrad’s newest addition, a cocktail bar inspired in Gulliver’s Travels and named after the author of the classic tale. Alan explains that even though the concept was already decided when he got on board, he was given freedom to develop an exciting drinks menu to go with it.
He was familiar with the story, but it was when he took the job that he decided to carefully read the book “for research and inspiration.” This wasn’t the first time Alan channeled a classic through his recipes: One of his favourite books, The Count of Monte Cristo, served as inspiration for his praised creation Once Upon a Thyme, which he presented at the Written Word phase of Diageo World Class 2015.
Edmond Dantès was a sailor so I based the cocktail on a Gimlet, he’s in Marseilles, so I used lavender syrup which is very prominent there. He spent time on a French prison, so I used French Thyme liqueur, and then I used the Aphrodite bitters, and for his revenge I used homemade Thyme Tinctures. All shaken, poured on a glass.”
Once given the task of creating Lemuel’s cocktail list, this enthusiastic reader had to put his author hat and although he points out that the challenge was very enjoyable, his favourite cocktail from the list is the one that literally gave him Writers Tears…
“I suppose the one I had the most fun coming up with and my favourite is gotta be Writers’ Block” he explains that it was the last cocktail he had to do but “had no idea on where to get the story”, therefore he struggled to find the right angle for a while.
I actually had writers’ block. So I took an Irish whiskey, Writers Tears, and made an Old Fashioned with a beer from the pub downstairs by Galway Bay Brewery and Spanish Bitters.
The cocktail comes inside a book and once you open it, you discover the pre-mixed drink, ready to be poured on a lowball glass with ice.
A Friendly and No-nonsense Bartender
Despite having a solid CV and the type of role for which many young bartenders would enter the industry in the first place, Alan never brags and his words feel free of the air of self-complacency that sometimes successful people in the trade might acquire along with their achievements.
In fact he calls himself a bartender and in his dictionary, the term mixologist is just a synonym instead of a superlative. “I think both are the same thing, they do the same job. One pours more pints than the other but that’s about it” he considers.
When asked how would a cocktail inspired in himself be like, he hesitates and kindly says it would be hard for him to use himself as inspiration, although he knows one thing, it’d probably have whiskey. “When it comes to whiskey I can talk for hours” even his eyes are smiling as he says this.
He’d rather get his ideas from the outside world and following up after the Gulliver’s Travels menu, he is thinking about his next cocktail list, in which he would like to create new drinks inspired in famous Irish writers. The idea would be consistent with Lemuel’s concept and it would help to keep things fresh in the bar. This is key in order to develop a regular customer base and for getting people to come back, and it can be extra challenging for themed establishments.
Regarding how to transcend the novelty factor and what does a bar need to do for people to come back, Alan goes back to the basics: “It needs good customer service, a warm and friendly atmosphere and ambiance… Good drinks are key.”
What makes a good drink?
“Balance. Balance between sweet, sour, bitter and the spirit.”
He adds that so far the customers’ reaction has been great and “people are enjoying the place and loving the level of detail that has gone into it.”
That level of attention is evident when as Alan goes back every now and then to mention something about Jonathan Swift’s life, “he’s actually buried in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, besides the one love of his life”, Alan shares, along with a couple of other facts from the author’s bio, however when asked which episode of Swift’s life caused a bigger impact on him, he chose one that shows not just the author’s light-hearted side, but his:
“He never wrote anything under his own name, always under a pseudonym, one of these was Isaac Bickerstaff. They say April’s Fools was his favourite holiday and that he would go out of his way to make a joke, and he pulled one once on a critic called John Partridge using this name.” As explained in Lemuel’s drinks menu, the year was 1708 and the reason was a comment by Patridge that didn’t quite sit well with Swift.
This episode inspired Alan to create a cocktail called Bickerstaff’s Word, which features “Teeling’s Poitín, Green Chartreuse, Marashchino, Lime and an interesting fact.”
“I’d Like to See Rum Coming Back”
Although he emphasises his fondness for Irish whiskey, Alan is eager to keep learning and innovating and when talking about trends he considers than rum has the potential to become very big, very soon. “I’ve learnt a lot about rum in Upstairs and I’d like to see it becoming more popular” says Alan, who adds that nowadays lots of people that are learning more about whiskey, eventually develop also a taste for rum.
As we arrive to the last page of our conversation, it is time to take a photo. It makes sense to ask him to prepare a cocktail and as I try to capture the mix of joy and concentration that takes over Alan, he pours Hemingway’s favourite, the most delicious Daiquiri I’ve ever had.
Alan Moore shared with us one of his recipes. You can make it at home or drop by Lemuel’s and enjoy it straight from the author’s bar!
The final leg of Gulliver’s travels brought him to an island ruled by a race of intelligent horses called Houyhnhnm. Here he became a member of their horse household and began to emulate their ways.
– 50ml Ron Zacapa 23
– 20ml Homemade apple shrub
– 25ml Egg white
– Soda water
1. Pour the rum, the apple shrub and the egg white in a cocktail mixer with ice.
2. Shake well, strain and serve in a chilled coupe.
3. Top with soda water.
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.