Ian Murray is everything I want a great bartender to be. Well, my fantasy bartender looks like he spends all his free time at the local tattoo parlor, never gets up before 2pm, works until 6am then goes home to make breakfast for his kid, sleeps for 6 or 7 hours and then gets up to return to work and explain to over-zealous customers why he gave up drinking years ago. For that though, you have to drink at el batey and so back to Ian. Always meticulously dressed in trousers and a button-down kept crisp behind a denim & leather apron, Ian is at first slightly intimidating to order from, something about him giving off the air that he knows more than you do about drinks (he does). This layer of aloofness evaporates instantly when you ask him to share some of his extensive knowledge (he will). Although he currently lives in Wilmington, NC Ian would easily blend in among Brooklyn hipsters and he can sling drinks with the best of ’em. He lights up when you allow him to recommend a cocktail and will light up equally when you leave if you’ve been rude. You see, Mr. Murray is a throwback to a more civilized time when bartenders cared about what you drank, knew every detail about the spirits they were serving and believed that cocktail hour was for getting a little rowdy while shaking off the day without falling off your barstool. His favorite drink, is unsurprisingly whiskey- the main ingredient in an Old Fashioned.
How long have you worked at Manna?
Three years but I’ve been bartending for seven years.
So I can drink whiskey at work (he laughs).
So is that your favorite drink?
Ya, that’s what I drink daily, whiskey. Bourbon or rye, neat.
Is that your favorite thing to make cocktails with?
Yes. Old style, bitter, bourge-y cocktails.
What’s in your bar at home?
A lot. I probably have about 50 different bourbons right now, a couple of random gins, a whole bunch of weird amaros and vermouths and stuff.
Someone isn’t into Whiskey and you have one bottle to convince them, what is it?
Um…probably Michter’s Sour Mash. It’s light on the palate and really well made. People order Jack Daniels and I tell them to switch to Michter’s (he smiles mischievously at this).
What’s your ideal customer?
Someone who raises hell but doesn’t raise hell with me.
What makes you wish people would get tossed out of the bar?
People who come in here wearing flip flops and salmon-colored shorts.
Ian’s favorite cocktail recipe:
1.5 oz rye
.5 oz cognac
.5 oz Benedictine
.5 oz carpano antica
4 dashes angostura bitters
4 dashes of peychauds bitters
Stir in mixing glass, strain over fresh ice (he recommends one large, single cube), garnish with flamed lemon twist (run the lemon peel over a lighter flame for couple of seconds per side to release aroma) and serve.♥
Check out a couple of Ian’s summer cocktail recipes here.