Gary Regan

From Chanticleer Society

(September 18, 1951 – November 15, 2019)

Gary Regan was identified by Imbibe Magazine as one of “The Top 25 Most Influential Cocktail Personalities of the Past Century”[1]:

"With countless newspaper and magazine columns, books and newsletters to his name, Gary Regan is known the world over as one of the most-read cocktail experts around. Whether he’s lecturing at The Smithsonian, conducting workshops or maintaining the Worldwide Bartender Database, he’s helped raise the world’s mixological awareness."

Gary "gaz" Regan was born in Rochdale Lancashire, England in 1951. Both of his parents ran pubs, the Prince Rupert in Bolton (where Gary worked, even being underage), and the Bay Horse in Cleveleys.

The Early Years

In 1973 he moved to America, and soon began working at Drakes Drum in the upper East Side of Manhattan. This was followed by various other jobs in other bars, specifically the North Star Pub in the South Street Sea Port. Gary used this experience to write his first book "The Bartender's Bible" in 1991. This initial foray into writing progressed into several other books "The Book of Bourbon", "The Bourbon Companion", "The Martini Companion", and "New Classic Cocktails". Most of these he wrote in partnership with his second wife Mardee Haiden Regan.

Cockails In The Country

In 2001, he started up a casual but at the same time intense bartender training retreat that he called "Cocktails In The Country". It was held at Painter's Tavern in his home town of Cornwall-On-Hudson. At these retreats, Gary would share with the small group of attendees (typically 10 per session) his insights and observations on what it meant to be a great bartender.

The Joy of Mixology

Gary used "Cocktails In The Country" as both inspiration as well as the foundation for "The Joy of Mixology", which he published in 2003. He saw this book as essentially being the textbook for Cocktails in the Country. It was one of the first books in modern times to distinctly approach cocktails from an educational angle, and could be used to provide it's readers with a well grounded understanding in bartending, the structure of cocktails, and how to provide great service to your customers.

Mindful Bartending

Gary was diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2003, this experience had a profound affect on him which brought about a reexamination of his life and his spirituality. He began a new approach to bartending which he called "Mindful Bartending"

“... mindful bartending started in 2003, after I had tongue cancer. I had a spiritual awakening. The cancer slapped me upside my head. I thought somebody was trying to get my attention and I started seeking why that was happening.” - Gary Regan

gaz regan

Over the years, the transformation which started with his tongue cancer evolved in various ways. Gary chose to take on the new name "gaz regan", as well as typically decorate one of his eyes with eyeliner as a way of reminding other bartenders the importance of eye contact. His "Cocktails in the Country" courses had gone on hiatus, and when he started them back up again, they provided him with a venue in which to focus on "Mindful Bartending".

Orange Bitters #6

When Gary wrote "The Book of Bourbon" in 1995, he included his personal recipe for "Orange Bitters #4". This was a recipe which was originally based on one he had found in "The Gentleman’s Companion: An Exotic Drinking Book", by Charles H. Baker, Jr. from 1946. Orange bitters were once a common type of cocktail bitters which all but disappeared after American Prohibition. Gary would regularly make up batches of his bitters and provide them to his bartender friends in New York. In 2005, he teamed up with Mark Brown from the Sazerac Company to commercially produce his bitters. It took two more formulations before the final product "Regans' Orange Bitters #6" was arrived at.

Finger Stirred Negroni

In recent years, Gaz has become renowned for his "finger stirred Negroni", to the point that Cocktail Kingdom came out with a stirrer that uses a mold of his finger so that anyone can get an official "Gaz Regan Finger Stirred Negroni" any time they want one. The drink originated when Gaz was at a bartender event around 2010 in Cognac France, with a growing collection of Negroni's ready to go out to the crowd, just requiring a final stir. Thinking nothing of it, Gaz just stuck a finger in each drink and gave them a stir before passing them out. No big deal. A few years later, Gaz found himself at another event in New York, but this time with chefs instead of bartenders. As Gaz presented each drink to each chef, he would ceremoniously stick his finger into the drink, and give it a quick stir. Each time would elicit a hearty laugh from the chef. Gary realized the importance of the finger stirred Negroni, which is to make the customer smile[2].


External Links