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Remembering Gaz Regan

“Most important: Listen… Be prepared to learn something new every day for the rest of your life. And if you manage to become a full-time bartender, the rest of your life will surely be interesting, to say the least.” —Gaz Regan, Joy of Mixology (2003)

Gary (Gaz) Regan Gary (Gaz) Regan
Gary (Gaz) Regan’s words have inspired a generation of bartenders, and his legacy has changed the course of cocktails over the past fifty years. Regan passed away on Friday, November 15, in New York from complications of cancer. He was 68.

Born in Rochdale, England, Regan worked at his parents’ pub, the Prince Rupert, from the age of 14. He moved to the United States in the early 1970s, starting out in a small Irish pub until he eventually became manager at the North Star Pub in Manhattan’s Financial District. His musings on cocktails and the art of tending bar span 18 books and multiple drinks columns, including The Cocktailian for the San Francisco Chronicle. His first book, The Bartender’s Bible, was published in 1991 and his noteworthy Joy of Mixology was printed twice—in 2003 and, again, in 2018.

His recipe for orange bitters was a go-to for bartenders all over the globe and led to the commercial release of Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6. In addition to his writing, his work as an ambassador for brands, as a seminar leader and teacher of cocktail courses earned him a Lifetime Achievement Award at Tales of the Cocktail in 2012. Regan’s particular impact on the Cocktail Renaissance was, perhaps, most influential for his commitment to hospitality—even sporting a single, broad stroke of eyeliner to remind hospitality workers to look their guests in the eye. His memory is being honored around the world by bartenders stirring Negronis with their index finger—Regan believed the practice instilled the drink with the essence of the bartender.


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