Just like the cocktails they craft, great bartenders come in many different styles: from old fashioned veterans with a strong spirit both on their shelves and within to young and up and coming stirrers. Gin genius, whiskey wizards or rum rioters, they all have something in common: the mix of talent, hard work and personality that keeps cocktail lovers coming back.
As the Irish drinks industry writes one success story after the other, not only distillers and importers are upping their game; the establishments where many of us encounter and discover the wide array of top-quality tipples in the market are also raising the bar. Ambiance and quality are crucial, but at the end of the day it’s the people on stage who take a venue’s potential to the next level.
Raise a glass to the mixers and the shakers. Call them bartenders or mixologists, or even better, remember their names as they are the ones to watch. Below, some of the most talented drinksmiths dashing and garnishing the best cocktails in Ireland.
Shane manages two bars at the iconic Shelbourne Hotel: No. 27 Bar & Lounge and The Horseshoe Bar. Originally from Celbridge, he has travelled and worked in New Zealand, Australia and the UK, and through his contact with global trends and many influences, he has developed a style that combines five star standards with a contemporary approach.
Sean is aware of the importance of staying ahead of the curve and he has been a most welcome stirrer at The Shelbourne, where he has introduced a wealth of new cocktails and styles. A believer of seasonality, he periodically updates the menu to keep it in tune with what’s exciting, without neglecting the classics.
Gareth is accuracy and elegance with a big dash of old-school charm. The mixologist behind one of Ireland’s most beautiful speakeasies, the Vintage Cocktail Club, is well versed in the eras of cocktail making and he transfers his passion for historically correct tipples into a menu that is time travel in a glass.
From pre-prohibition era punches to Tiki temptations and renditions of classics remembered and forgotten, Gareth has done a painstakingly perfectionist job to ensure the drinks as are loyal to what they homage as possible.
After working in Australia at a high-volume, high-end bar by the Great Barrier Reef, the Dundalk native came back to Ireland and began mixing drinks at Electric Picnic’s Casa Bacardi. He also worked for a while at trendy 37 Dawson Street and is currently responsible for the modern and eclectic bar at The Exchequer.
A degree in Marketing has given Conor an edge, and his cleverly branded signature cocktail Electric Avenue is proof of that. After winning the Ireland round of the Bacardí Legacy Cocktail Competition, he represented the country in Berlin last May, where he was named Grand finalist.
A mechanic turned mixologist, Mark is relatively new to the bar industry with 3 years experience, and part of The Front Door Pub team for two and a half years. However it’s evident he has a natural flair behind the bar having already won a number of accolades. He was awarded first place at the national Jameson Perfect Serve Competition two years running (2016/17).
Mark has a passion for all things cocktails, and you’ll find him shaking up, experimenting and crafting new drinks in the bar’s dedicated cocktail lounge. One of his most recent and popular creations was the Ed Sheeran cocktail which went viral on Irish media.
Owner and manager of the secretive speakeasy The Bling Pig, Paul was already serving world-class drinks when many of his peers were taking their first steps, not their bartending first steps but their actual first steps. With 25 years of experience he’s one of the most solid and respected people in the industry and his career has taken him from Kelly’s Resort Hotel in Rosslare, to Scotland, to the once famous and now closed Diep Le Shaker.
After helping set up the bar at Saba, Paul Lambert ventured into his own bar in 2011, which symbolically, opened on a 5th of December, the day that marked the 78th anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition in the United States. What started as a pop up two days a week is now one of the coolest bars in Dublin but Paul is not resting on his good name and is currently working on new concepts we’re likely to hear more of soon.
Having worked in the bar trade for almost sixteen years it’s fair to say that Sinéad has extensive knowledge of this fast paced industry. She has worked at the Celtic Whiskey Bar and Larder since its opening last March 2016, swiftly moving up the ranks to her current role as head bartender.
Sinéad has helped to organise both the venue’s in-house and out of house cocktail competitions, showcasing some of her cocktails, including The Bitter Monk, one of her most popular tipples. Whether she mixes one of the numerous brilliant whiskeys they stock or shakes cocktails with other spirits, expect balance and unexpected flavour combinations you’ll love discovering.
The charismatic and creative Head Bartender at the glamorous Lemuel’s Bar within the Conrad Hotel might seem young, but he already has the expertise that a decade in the trade confers. He began his career at a pub in his hometown Galway, and has worked in a diverse range of venues including the G Hotel, The Dylan Hotel and The Blind Pig, where he stayed for two years until being offered his current role.
The bar, inspired in Gulliver’s Travels and its celebrated Irish author Jonathan Swift, features a very unique cocktail menu that showcases Alan’s imagination and ability to come up with recipes that capture the essence of the classic. Alan was chosen as a finalist at this year’s World Class Irish Bartender of the Year and has consistently achieved mentions in other competitive events.
Andy is the manager and bartender at Cork’s Cask, one of Ireland’s best cocktail bars. Inspired by London’s Nick Strangeway, Andy has developed a farm-to-glass approach to cocktail creation and is known for his innovative use of natural ingredients, often foraged locally. Last June he was chosen as the World Class Irish Bartender of the Year and this September he’ll travel to Mexico to compete at the global finals.
When he’s not travelling or mixing awe inspiring creations at Cask, Andy runs Raise the Bar, a company he founded and directs along with his wife Gráinne which specialises private and corporate events, pop ups and consultancy.
Pat manages Zozimus Bar, a venue that was acknowledged last year as the Best New Cocktail Bar at the Irish Craft Cocktail Awards and Best New Bar at the Sky Bar Awards 2016. This meticulous professional worked for three years at the glamorous Vintage Cocktail Club before taking the lead in his current workplace and is known for his enticing signature cocktails.
Last year he was the all-Ireland winner at the Diplomatico Rum World Tournament, where he impressed the judges not only with his passion and skill, but also with his flawless showmanship. He relies on techniques such as flavor mapping and webbing and flavor bouncing to create original drinks with harmonious flavours and, as anyone that’s been to Zozimus can attest, are also aesthetically pleasing.
She has left her mark in many of Dublin’s coolest bars and her career as a bar manager has seen her running the bars at the Bernard Shaw, The Dylan, Floridita, Brasserie 66 and MVP. Phoebe is a Dublin-based Australian bartender who currently works for the quintessentially hipster Bodytonic group and spends plenty of her time running the casual and quirky Wigwam, where she has created a fun yet interesting cocktail list and has curated a rum menu with over 100 items.
With her soft spot for the golden spirit of the Caribbean, it’s no surprise that she was selected as one of the finalists at the Diplomático Rum World Tournament last year.
You can easily picture Michal mixing a Martini for James Bond, or even being the 007 himself. Originally from Poland, he drives The Sidecar at The Westbury and counts ten years of experience behind prestigious Irish bars up his perfectly groomed sleeve.
Michal’s style perfectly matches that of The Westbury’s glamorous cocktail bar and his refinement and elegant execution when mixing classic cocktails foretells the sophistication to discover in the glass.
Corkonian Gary Fitzgibbon shows his passion for the trade not only through distinctive drinks themed tattoos but through the creative and appealing cocktails he serves at Brick Lane, known as a great venue for groups and parties in Cork City.
A decade of experience in the food and beverages sector has given Gary a sharp eye to identify trends and adapt them, a talent that can be easily appreciated upon browsing through Brick Lane’s drinks menu, in which he reinterprets classics and features signature drinks including a few sharing cocktails.
After spending 12 years mastering his craft on the southern coasts of Portugal, David Soares combines this flamboyant tiki style, with a more crafted approach. David has left his stamp on some of Dublin’s most reputable establishments, including Harry’s on The Green, Camden Exchange, The Exchequer, JT Pimm’s and more recently Head Bartending roles in The Morgan Hotel, and now Drury Buildings.
As well as competing in notable competitions including Jameson’s Bar Battle and Ophir gin, David has been regularly representing Hendrick’s and Bacardi since arriving on Irish shores. David took the role of replacing Drury Building’s outgoing mixologist maestro German Renthal, no easy feat. Soares utilizes his love for aromas and culinary elements, to create stunning drinks, which serve to complement the Italian style menu on offer in Drury Building.
Thiago, alias Afroxologist, is originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil and has a decade of experience as a bartender. Based in Ireland for 8 years now, he has worked in many of the best bars in the country including The Liquor Rooms, Peruke & Periwig and The ODEON.
He has developed a distinctive bartending style that mixes old school and modern informal freestyle. He manages the popular Camden Exchange Dublin and he’s also the house mixologist of this bar and its recently opened sister venue Ruin Bar.
This gin aficionado runs the bar at the stylish Pink Lounge since its opening in 2015. He took inspiration from Berlin, a city that he travelled to for a research trip when polishing the concept for the then new bar at The Ross Hotel. He went back with the idea of offering a more interactive experience in which the communication with the customer and customisation of what’s in the glass are most important.
He has mastered the art of the G&T and is dexterous at crafting other cocktails, specially when gin is on the table. Going the extra mile, he not only endeavoured to source popular and obscure gins, he has developed a signature spirit in collaboration with prestigious Listoke Distillery, a bespoke tipple known simply as The Ross Gin.
Darren is a veteran in the Irish bartending scene. With sixteen years of experience, he has worked in numerous high-end hotels and prestigious bars and currently manages the gorgeous Candlelight Bar in Dundrum. He has accumulated several industry awards during his career, including being chosen as Ireland’s National Champion 2013 in the International “Bols Around The World Bartending Championship” and achieving first place in the Irish Final of the Disaronno Global Cocktail Challenge 2015.
After three years heading the Candlelight Bar, he has been instrumental in the venue’s success at the Best Cocktail Bar in Leinster 2017, RAI Best Cocktail Experience 2017 and making the finals in two categories in The Sky Bar Awards 2017. Darren has worked with numerous brands and helped launch and guide some of Ireland’s most recognisable bars.
Stephanie has been bartending in Dublin for around six years, and for the last five, she has specialised in craft cocktails. She has worked in venues including Damson Diner and was part of the opening team at the Opium Rooms. She held the role of supervisor at The Liquor Rooms and went on to work in The Meeting House Dublin where she progressed until becoming the bar manager.
After working for a few months in Le Glass in Pigalle, Paris, she returned to Dublin to lead the bar at The Chelsea Drugstore. Stephanie won the Opihr Cocktail Competition in 2015 and represented Ireland in Morocco. She was a finalist at the World Class Ireland competition both in 2015 and 2016, going from 13th to 6th place.
Aido leads the bar at Galway’s An Púcán, a venue that both tourists and locals love and a must-visit place in the City of Tribes. He has won numerous competitions including Jameson Sine Metu: Regional winner 2016 (national runner up), Regional Winner at World Class Drinks 2016 and 2017 (national finalist on both occasions) and a place in the top 10 at the National Havana Grand Prix.
He has also contributed to An Púcán’s streak of accolades including a place as finalist at last year’s Sky Bar of year of awards, and at the Irish Craft Cocktail Awards. He also mixes the “Best Gin and Tonic Ireland” with Gunpowder Gin in 2017.
Dave has assumed the challenge of shaking people’s perceptions of what an airport bar should be. He has worked in hospitality since he was sixteen years old. Prior to his current role as bar supervisor at Marqette Bar in Dublin Airport, he worked in the lively Wrights Cafe Bar in Swords.
His work has gained the critic’s attention and this year Marqette Bar is running for the Outstanding Customer Service category at the prestigious Sky Bar Awards.
Westmeath-native Anne has lived in Dublin for the last 9 years and she’s the Assistant General Manager at the sensational Peruke & Periwig, where she has worked for over two years and also performs as one of the head bartenders. Along with the skilled team behind this exciting bar, she helped create a menu of drinks inspired in different musical genres and hit songs (her favourite being Little Red Corvette).
Her experience as bartender includes venues as varied as Hangar, Vintage Cocktail Club and Fitzimons Bar. She has also worked in Spain. She was shortlisted as a finalist in last year’s Irish Craft Cocktail Awards, same year the bar reached 3rd place for Best Bar Team and 2nd for Best Cocktail Menu and Best Overall Cocktail Bar.
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.