Bartending is a hugely underestimated profession. Even at school the careers officer told me I could do a lot better. But I didn’t care because, when the time came, I really enjoyed the job. Long antisocial hours and dreadful pay were offset by an exciting work environment, a chance to show off and meet stunning women.
While I was out working in Ireland I first met Peter O’Connor. This guy is also a bartender, but he is on a whole other level. Peter is what you might call a professional Irishman. Handsome, twinkly eyed, funny and charming, he is perfect for the trade. He is also one of the best cocktail bartenders you will ever meet.
It wasn’t long before Diageo snapped him up to be a brand ambassador, teaching the next generation of bartenders about how to serve and recommend whiskey properly. He taught the staff about his product in their own place of work, and installed some enthusiasm and pride in their job.
He also won many cocktail competitions and scholarships, and traveled across America, touring breweries and distilleries. It was here that he made many important contacts.
Only a few months later he had a phone call that kicked his career into high gear. Peter would now be the brand ambassador for the New Jersey area.
And all this from being just a humble bartender.
What was your first bar job?
My 1st bar job was when I was 15yo and it was in Jury’s Hotel in Dublin. I worked there 1 day a week helping out and it was here that I pulled my 1st ever pint of Guinness and made the 1st ever Irish Coffee. I know then the was no turning back…
When did your cocktail career really start to gather speed?
It was when I moved to a bar called Nancy Hands and I was put in charge of the cocktail bar. We had over 100 cocktails on the menu so I was tasked to know them all, which I did and it was from here that people started to notice me in the Dublin Cocktail scene.
What was your first prize?
My 1st prize for cocktails was 2nd place in a Grand Marnier comp I think, long time ago and a lot of cocktails drank since then so can’t really remember
What is your favorite bar in the world?
God Knows… I have that many. I guess I love the bars on the islands in Thailand the most, Tuks Hut on Koh Samet. In Dublin it has to be the Sackville for the Best pint of Guinness ever.
Who do you take your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from my family, we all have a get up and go attitude. As for the cocktails, i do what I want when I want and don’t look at anyone for inspiration.
What are you doing at the minute?
I am currently the Diageo Master of Whisky for New Jersey in the USA. I stared the role about 3 months ago and really enjoying it. Traveling NJ teaching bartenders and consumers about whisky and whisky mixology.
What do you plan on doing next?
Take a break from all this madness and maybe, just maybe meet someone and settle down… (MAYBE)
Would you recommend the drinks industry as a place to work?
For my children…. NEVER, for anyone else it is the best experience in life and I wouldn’t change a minute of it. Its long hours and hard work, but if you work hard it will pay off.