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Bartending luminary Gary Regan dies

World-renowned bartender, educator and author Gary Regan has died at the age of 68 from cancer.

Gary ‘Gaz’ Regan penned a number of drinks books during his lifetime

Gary ‘Gaz’ Regan died on Friday 15 November at Newburgh Hospital in New York after experiencing complications from cancer, including pneumonia.

Born in the town of Rochdale, England, Regan worked at his parents’ pub the Prince Rupert in Bolton, despite being underage, and trained as a chef at the Courtfield Catering College in Blackpool.

He moved to the US at the age of 22 and began bartending at an Irish bar in Manhattan’s Upper East Side during the early 1970s.

Regan worked as manager of the North Star Pub in New York City’s Seaport District for four years, where he “learned the power of storytelling and the entertainment value of the liquor and bar businesses”.

After discovering a love of writing, Regan penned a drinks column for Food Arts in the early 1990s. He also wrote for Wine Enthusiast, Cheers and Malt Advocate, and was most known for his column, The Cocktailian, in the San Francisco Chronicle.

During his lifetime, Regan wrote 18 books on drinks, bartending, and cocktails.

His first book, The Bartender’s Bible, was published in 1991. Regan also co-wrote The Book of Bourbon and Other Fine American Whiskey, The Bourbon Companion, New Classic Cocktails, and The Martini Companion.

Between 2003 and 2018, he penned The Joy of Mixology (multiple editions), The Bartender’s Gin Compendium, The Negroni: A Gaz Regan Notion, and the annual 101 Best New Cocktails.

After developing tongue cancer in 2003, Regan started to wear eyeliner under one of his eyes “to remind bartenders that eye contact with customers is vital”. He moved from Manhattan to Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York, and created a “zen-like” two-day bartending course, called Cocktails in the Country.

He also created Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6, and worked with spirits companies on cocktail competitions, as well as brand sponsorships and promotions.

In October 2018, Regan launched the Worldwide Bartender Database, an online portal for bartenders and spirits producers devoted “to all matters across the bar”.

In addition, Regan received the Lifetime Achievement Award during Tales of the Cocktails’ Spirited Awards in 2012, along with a number of accolades for his writing.

Regan is survived by his wife of 11 years, Amy Gallagher, and cousin, Ken Armstrong. His funeral will be private and a memorial service is planned for January 2020.

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