A Belfast man who left Northern Eire almost 20 years in the past to pursue his dream of turning into a world-class cocktail maker is the toast of New York after the Manhattan hangout he co-owns was named the very best bar in North America .

Ichael McIlroy and his enterprise companion Sam Ross opened Attaboy on the Decrease East Facet in early 2013, in the identical area as the previous legendary cocktail bar Milk and Honey, the place they first met.

The couple, who honed their craft below famed Milk and Honey proprietor Sasha Petraske, saved their ideas for eight years to open Attaboy on a “minimal finances” after their former mentor and boss relocated his firm had misplaced.

The tiny bar, which seats 28 individuals at a time, has earned a fame as one among New York’s coolest bars and a preferred assembly place because of its bespoke cocktails and relaxed speakeasy environment.

Now it has been featured as primary in North America on the inaugural North America’s 50 Greatest Bars Awards – one among 11 New York venues to look on the listing.

McIlroy, 39, who hails from North Belfast, stated he and his Australian enterprise companion have been “humiliated” to high the distinguished listing, which noticed Mexico Metropolis’s Handshake Speakeasy and Licorería Limantour come second and third.

Talking to the Belfast Telegraph, an enthusiastic McIlroy, who owns 5 bars in complete, stated: “I labored within the condo bar rising up and beloved making cocktails. I knew I needed to do that as a full-time job.

“I needed to work at the very best cocktail bar and all the things I heard and examine Milk and Honey pointed me in that route, so I jumped on a airplane and flew to New York.

“I requested the proprietor if I may work there. He stated: ‘You got here all the best way from Belfast for a job?’ and I advised him ‘sure’.

“He stated, ‘Nicely, that is adequate for me,’ and I obtained employed. That was the start of all the things.”

McIlroy met Ross at Milk and Honey and the 2, who shared comparable ambitions, turned associates. Over an eight-year interval, they perfected their cocktail craft and saved their hefty ideas till they’d sufficient to open Attaboy when Petraske moved to city with Milk and Honey.

For 2 months, the lads labored across the clock to complete Attaboy and make the bar a smash hit, with no funding or PR marketing campaign.

“We do not have the gimmicks that different bars go for,” he stated.

“We do not also have a cocktail menu. When individuals come to the bar, we ask them what flavors they like and what alcohol they like, and we make a bespoke cocktail for them.

“Earlier than they arrive in we now have to ask them how many individuals are of their get together as a result of the bar is so small and solely seats 28.”

From pina coladas to penicillin — an Attaboy signature drink made with whiskey, ginger, honey, and lemon juice — the bar’s cocktails are well-known and the small staff, together with mixologist Haley Traub, acclaimed by critics and contemporaries alike.

Subsequent 12 months marks Attaboy’s tenth anniversary and McIlroy and Ross have excessive hopes of increasing their enterprise to different bars throughout the US and past.

McIlroy stated the award got here at a good time for Attaboy and his staff after a difficult time as a result of Covid pandemic.

And he stated they’re all nonetheless in shock to have received America’s Greatest Bar.

“We learn by way of the listing from 50 to 40 to 30 and I began to marvel if we even made it,” McIlroy stated.

“It was a shock to be taught that we took first place again then, however we’re extremely comfortable and humbled.

“Lots of blood, sweat and tears went into opening Attaboy and making it the bar it’s in the present day.”

Mark Sansom, content material director for North America’s 50 Greatest Bars, defined why Attaboy got here first: “Regardless of its modest measurement, it has an outsized affect on how we drink, not simply in New York and the US, however worldwide as effectively.” “

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