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Being outside the box…

April 26th, 2017 | by LCN Editor
Being outside the box…

Canadian-born Nathan Evans came to Northern Ireland 22-years-ago to visit his sister, Sarah. During the visit, he fell in love with the place and has been here ever since.

These days, Nathan Evans is an accomplished mixologist and bar manager, working at Henry McGlone’s trio of successful venues in Magherafelt – Mary’s Bar, Doman’s and Secrets nightclub.

But his love for the hospitality trade began to evolve during his days at university in his native Canada, when he helped pay for his education by working behind the bar.

He was studying criminal forensic science but admits that he wasn’t really considering a career in the discipline. Instead, when his course had finished, he left for an extended visit with his sister Sarah on this side of the Atlantic.

“Because bartending is a job that can take you anywhere, I took it up again when I moved to Belfast and got a job behind the bar at Apache Pizza in Botanic.”

Following a brief trip back to Canada, Nathan returned to Belfast and took up a new job waiting tables and bartending at Benedict’s where he met Grainne, the local girl who was to become his wife. By 2008, he had worked his way up to the position of restaurant manager at Benedict’s. He then moved on to Shu on the Lisburn Road where he managed the bar for the next three years.

“By that stage, my wife was anxious to get back to Maghera where she’s from,” recalls Nathan. “I got a job at a place in nearby Castledawson but it turned out to be a little quiet for me, so I moved to Mary’s Bar in Magherafelt in 2011.”

It was here, says Nathan, that his interest in mixing cocktails really began to blossom. He was doing “a little everything” from waitering to supervising but as always, it was during his time behind the bar that he felt really inspired:

“That was what I really loved doing,” he tells LCN. “I enjoyed getting adventurous with cocktails and coming up with lots of new ideas.”

Today, Nathan is an increasingly familiar sight on NI’s burgeoning cocktail circuit, often appearing alongside budding local mixologists at competitions and demonstrations around the country:

“When it comes to cocktails, it’s the name and the approach to serving it that really sells it,” he remarks. “Obviously, the ingredients are a key factor, but we say to our staff here, anyone can mix a cocktail, that’s easy, you just follow the recipe, but cocktails are about more than just following instructions, it’s become a theatrical experience in many ways and that’s what really sells the drink. That entertainment factor, the ability to light things on fire, making it look extraordinary, serving it in a quirky glass, it’s all about being outside the box.”

Going forward, Nathan doesn’t detect any slowing in the pace of change across the drinks market:

“The world is becoming such a small place, trends are emerging more quickly, things are getting here from the US much faster than they used too,” he says. “Thing are also a lot quirkier now that they were and the classic cocktails are all coming back but with some subtle changes. Manhattans and Daiquiris are back, but with a twist, Cosmos are back but served differently and I think that this time next year, the cocktail scene will be 10 times more popular again than it is now.




Nathan recommends:


A signature serve:


35ml Mor Irish Gin

2 bar spoons of blackberry and raspberry compote

1724 tonic


Method: Half fill a tall Slim Jim glass with crushed ice, pour in the gin and the compote. Fill glass with more crushed ice and top up with 1724 tonic water. Garnish with fresh raspberry.




Mor Tea



50ml Mor Irish Gin

25ml Sweet Vermouth

5 dashes of Jameson Sloe Berry bitters

Bar spoon of lemon and Berry tea

Fresh mint and cucumber

Fever tree gin ale



Place everything except the ginger ale in a mixing glass and muddle. Place a tea strainer into an ice-filled tea pot and pour the mixture into the strainer. Pour the ginger ale into the tea pot through the strainer until the pot is full. Allow the tea, cucumber and mint to steep in the pot for a few minutes. Take the strainer out and discard. Pour the tea into tea cups with fresh raspberries and blackberries inside. I recommend a ginger nut biscuit on the side.


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