Legendary bartender, author, and mentor Gary “Gaz” Regan died on Friday (11.15) evening according to a statement from his family. Regan is credited with helping create the Cocktail Renaissance and helping to shape the bar industry in the following years.
“I’m sorry to say that Gaz passed away last night after a bout with pneumonia,” read a statement from Regan’s wife Amy Gallagher. “He died peacefully and believed that his soul lived on. I miss him already. Sending love to all. 🙏❤️”
Born in 1951, Regan grew up around his parents’ pub in his native Bolton, Lancanshire, England. In 1973, he moved to New York City and a storied career began in earnest. In the ensuing years, Regan worked in the City’s bars developing a reputation among people on both sides of the stick as one of the best bartenders in the business.
Regan drew on these experiences to write The Bartender’s Bible, published in 1991. Between 1995 and 1998, he co-wrote The Book of Bourbon and Other Fine American Whiskey, The Bourbon Companion, New Classic Cocktails, and The Martini Companion along with his former wife Mardee Haidin Regan.
These volumes are responsible for educating a generation of bartenders. Before cocktail media—and even before the cocktail sites online—Regan’s books were the definitive resources on craft bartending. His books are often described as “the mixology internet before the internet.”
However, Regan was just getting started. From 2001 until 2014, he he wrote a column, The Cocktailian for The San Francisco Chronicle from 2001 through 2014. Other media gigs soon followed.
The legend’s seminal works The Joy of Mixology and gaz regan’s Annual Manual for Bartenders were first published in 2003 and 2011 respectively. Both books have been reprinted several times since and are lauded as required reading.
Notably, Regan was also a driving force behind the return of orange bitters. His recipe (an adaptation from Charles H. Baker Jr.’s 1946 book, The Gentleman’s Companion) for the crucial ingredient was the go-to for hundreds of bartenders until he helped reintroduce the formula commercially in 2005.
As cocktails regained their popularity in America, Regan’s legend grew. he began publishing multiple newsletters, hosting workshops, and became a fixture on the cocktail circuit. NYC’s Dead Rabbit promoted him to Bartender Emeritus. Regan’s affinity for negronis became legend and his shtick stirring the drink with his finger was even immortalized via a metal stirrer molded on his index finger.
Throughout the fame, Regan remained accessible and generous with advice for new and experienced bartenders alike. Most of all, Regan remained a bartender—not an ‘influencer’ or researcher, but a bartender— until his dying day.
And, that allegiance to his chosen career made him an icon to thousands of other bartenders. Today, that community mourns a great.
Article will be updated as information becomes available.