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It’s all in the mix…

March 6th, 2015 | by LCN Editor
It’s all in the mix…
Features
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From the bartender’s perspective, one of the most attractive aspects of working with cocktails is their versatility. The only limit on the mixologist’s creativity is the availability of the raw materials and the current resurgence in the popularity of cocktails is yielding a colourful crop of memorable concoctions.

One of those in the vanguard of a new wave of innovative cocktail mixologists is Gary Moran, the 25-year-old head bartender at The Albany on Belfast’s Lisburn Road.

Working in the drinks trade has been his lifetime’s ambition since, as a teenager, he took a holiday job collecting glasses and stocking fridges at The Silverbirch Hotel in his native Omagh.

When he came to Belfast as a student, he took a weekend job at the former Lily’s Bar on the Lisburn Road – now The Albany – but such was his passion for the trade that eventually, he moved into a full-time position at the bar.

“I’ve always wanted to do something in the world of alcohol, it’s just so diverse and interesting,” he told LCN recently.

Gary’s enthusiasm encompasses all the aspects of the trade but he is particularly fond of beer:

“I’m one of those craft beer weirdoes and I never buy the same beer twice,” he says. “I’m really into stouts and IPAs at the moment and I began to wonder how I could incorporate this into my other passion for cocktails. I wanted to bring them together in some way and I came up with the Flippin’ Irish [see inset]. I’ve used Hilden stout to make a sugar syrup which I’ve mixed with Jameson Irish whiskey, double cream and home-made root beer bitters. The result is very moreish, you just want to keep drinking it which is great for us.”

The drinks list at The Albany – currently LCN’s Style Bar of the Year – normally runs to around 35 or 40 cocktails but Gary says that there are always five or six which will outsell everything else, these include Mojitos, the Dark ‘N’ Stormy (a highball cocktail with black rum and ginger) and The Bramble (a classic sweet cocktail featuring gin and crème du mure).

“I think the Belfast drinks scene is booming at the minute, there are so many new bars opening up,” adds Gary. “The nice thing is that we’re all friends, we all know each other and we all have this passion to be better than we used to be. I think we’re capable of competing with anywhere else nationally, or even internationally.”

“It’s very hard to predict what people will ask for when they come in, that changes right out of the box but we love the challenge,” he goes on. “Sometimes we won’t have heard of the drinks that people want but if we can, we’ll make it up for them. If we don’t know what’s in it, we’ll try a quick Google, but we will never refuse to make a drink if we’ve got the ingredients and I think people appreciate that.”

As for the future, Gary has his sights set on something bigger:

“The long-term goal for many bartenders is to own his or her own world-class cocktail bar,” he says. “But that’s the upper scale, my immediate goal would be just to stay in the industry. I’ve always wanted to work in the trade and ultimately, I think, I’d be happy with my own cocktail bar in a capital city somewhere.”

 

GARY RECOMMENDS

THE FLIPPIN’ IRISH

Ingredients:

50ml Jameson Black Barrel

50ml Double Cream

20ml Hilden Irish Stout Sugar Syrup

1 Whole Egg

2 Dashes House Made Root Beer Bitters

 

Method:

Add all ingredients to a Boston tin, shake over ice

Fine strain into Boston lid

Dry shake

Strain into chilled stemmed goblet

Grate of nutmeg over the drink for garnish

Serve and enjoy!

irish web

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