Bar Profile

Bar Profile Summer 2017 – The Merchant Cocktail Bar, Belfast

James Maddison, manager of The Merchant Belfast Cocktail Bar, talks to HRNI

James Maddison

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BAR
We are a 5* hotel cocktail bar in the Grand European tradition, based in a Grade-A listed building. We offer table service only and a range of menus to cater for hotel guests and the public alike.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DRIVE SALES IN THE BAR?
All our staff have excellent Irish Whiskey knowledge. We ask for preferences, and then go from there with our recommendations. We introduced the Redbreast Tasting flight last year which is a great chance for customers to sample across the Redbreast range.

WHAT MAKES IT AN IRISH WHISKEY BAR?
Currently we stock approximately 50 Irish whiskies, with more than 50 other whiskies from around the world. We have a strong tourist trade, especially from North America. We find that people are looking for an Irish experience and Irish products – we love introducing new and old products to those who have never come across them before.

WHAT ARE YOUR BEST-SELLING BRANDS AND PERSONAL FAVOURITES IN THE IRISH WHISKEY CATEGORY?
All the main brands trade well, with the Redbreast range one of our most popular brands. Personally, I’m really enjoying Powers John’s Lane, and Dunville’s PX at the minute – all very different flavour profiles and great to play around with in cocktails.

HAVE YOU ANY FUTURE PLANS TO DEVELOP THE BAR FURTHER?
We are undertaking work for our Spirits Drinks Cabinet and our new Cocktail Menu books at the moment, and using it as an opportunity to instigate a new bar training programme. We are looking at getting as many staff to as many distilleries as possible this year, too.

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