We’ve all heard about the World’s Best Bar – The American Bar at The Savoy, but do we know the world’s best bar’s youngest bartender?
Ladies and gentlemen, introducing 21 year old Ferdia Murray, the youngest talent in a team of stalwarts at The American Bar. We’re keeping our eyes on him because we have a feeling big things are in store. We recently had a brief chat with Ferdia, who had piqued our curiosity with the story of how he came to be part of The American Bar so early in his career.
Murray started bartending at only 19, and quite unexpectedly so. While he was living in Cardiff, playing professionally for a Welsh football club (which he claims to have realised was not his forte), he happened to meet Natalie Isaac who was then the operations manager at Bar 44. Turns out Natalie had a keen eye for spotting talent and convinced Murray to give it a go. The rest, as they say, is history. At 19, Murray had taken an unexpected dive into the world of spirits and cocktails.
Needless to say, that along with this serendipitous state of affairs, came a set of real-life challenges. Murray had no knowledge of spirits or wine and had barely turned of legal drinking age! The road ahead looked daunting to Murray, who would sometimes be so nervous about making drinks, that he would try to make them under the counter so the guests wouldn’t spot his faults. Naturally he got told off a lot by mentors and managers. They say tough love is the best way to raise your young. Equipped with an amicable personality and an eagerness to learn, Murray quickly turned things around for himself, engaging guests in delightful banter, enjoying the experience of being behind the bar, and picking up skills that would change his life.
Soon into this first stint, Bar 44 took a group of bartenders to London to attend the Imbibe show, followed by a trip to…..well, The American Bar of course! We are not surprised to learn that the experience floored young Ferdia Murray, who in his own words, “was blown away by the attention to detail and guest skills of every team member.” Murray approached the bartender who he was a fan of, got chatting, expressed his eagerness to work for The American bar and low and behold – he walked out of there with a business card and the opportunity to share his profile and stand a chance to work for his dream team. If the phrase “living the dream” had a face to go with it, we think it would be that of Ferdia Murray’s.
We asked Murray a few quick questions about his work, inspirations, and plans. Here’s what he had to say:
What is the single motivating factor to what you do behind the bar?
The single motivating factor to me is fulfilling my ambitions. My dream is to become a senior bartender at the American Bar and every time I come into work and put on my white jacket it is up to me to go out and take myself one step closer to that goal. None of these ambitions are capable however, of being fulfilled without the guest.
A drink that you had which you could say, changed your life?
Without a doubt it was Sherry, particularly dry and medium dry styles. My previous bar was a Spanish themed restaurant bar and there was a heavy influence of Sherry upon the bartenders who worked there. Once I got to try the different styles of Sherry and receive some education about it I was hooked, and reading about Sherry and trying new ones is still a bit of a hobby for me.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I honestly don’t know. There is no necessity to rush my time at the American Bar, for at 21 I am currently the youngest team member. One thing to remember is that I still spend nearly all of my time on the floor presenting the drinks to the guests rather than making them. Being an American Bar bartender is a privilege and getting more time behind the bar will be completely reflective of my success on the floor. The management truly have my best interests at heart and I think the next 5 years offer nothing but excitement. I can see myself progressing into a full time bar role and then showcasing all the time I have dedicated to improving my technique and honing my hospitality skills.
Do you have any predictions for 2018 as far as drink trends go?
I think stirred down old fashioned style drinks have seen a huge rise amongst guests recently, particularly amongst young men in their 20’s. This shows that people are learning about cocktail culture and are not afraid to go into a bar and order short, spirit driven drinks. I think Vodka is going to make a huge resurgence in the near future, especially amongst bartenders. And of course I want nothing more than to see Sherry take over peoples interests…but I can’t say I am too confident.
What’s your go-to drink when you’re not working?
I do love to visit other bars when I am not working, but finding the time to do so is hard. However I love Gin Martinis. Usually I take mine 3:1 with a twist. I am also perfectly happy just with a beer in my hand, particularly a good Pilsener. I have recently returned from Prague having had the opportunity to sample some of the best beers I have every tried in my life, it was incredible.
Who are your industry heroes/inspirations?
Simone Caporale and Erik Lorincz. I would sit in my Cardiff apartment for hours on end watching YouTube videos of Simone’s technique and I fell in love with his warm, enthusiastic Italian hospitality. It captivated me. I plucked up the courage to message him one day and say that I was a young bartender in Wales looking for advice, and we ended up exchanging messages for the next few months. He was inspirational to me, and he was one of the first to find out when I secured my dream job in London. Erik Lorincz has done just about everything there is to do in this industry, and as the head bartender in my favourite bar he was always going to be a role model for me. Getting to work with him everyday now is so surreal, his knowledge is endless.
We are keeping our eyes on Ferdia Murray. Something tells us he’s on his way to becoming a force to reckon with. It takes tremendous courage to stand among a pride of roaring lions and Murray is well on his way to mastering the loudest roar.
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