The cocktail scene in Ireland has seen dramatic developments over the last number of years, particularly in the high-end sector. It’s no longer just Ice Teas, Margaritas and Black Russians. There is now a vast array of original cocktails and fresh takes on old classics. New York and London have led the way in the past, but Ireland, with fantastic bartenders, wonderful local ingredients and a growing number of spirits, has rapidly caught up and established itself on the world stage. At the very forefront of this growth is a cocktail bar in the heart of Cork city named Cask. This summer we took a trip down to Cork and had a chance to speak with Andy Ferreira, Bar Manager of Cask. Andy grew up in Midleton, County Cork and hospitality must be in his blood as his parents ran a successful restaurant during the ’70s and 80’s in Kinsale called Skippers. He later moved to Dublin for a few years where he worked in the bar trade. At the age of twenty-one, he packed his bags and went to San Francisco where he spent the next seven years working in hospitality. Following his stay there he moved to Australia for a year and then travelled across India for a couple of years. Asked what he gained from his years abroad Andy says he enjoyed getting out of his comfort zone and an understanding of how every country has its own version of how they prioritise hospitality. He added that he experienced a great variety of ingredients and developed a deep understanding of flavour. Upon his return to Ireland, he met his wife, started a family and settled down in Cork city. He began working in one of the first great cocktails bars, Long Island Bar, where he says he got his real education in cocktail bars working under the tutelage of owner Dave Riordan. Working there for nine years Andy developed his skills and won several awards including World Class Irish Bartender of the Year 2017, Best Bartender - Irish Cocktail Awards 2017 and reached the finals at Cocktail World Cup, New Zealand. At about this time he began his own consultancy company, Raise the Bar, specialising in high volume craft cocktails. How did the opportunity come about to establish Cask? Andy says “the owners of a hotel and restaurant had a space that was used for board meetings which they decided to convert. Initially it was just to help setup a bar, but I fell in love with the project and just decided to stay. You could just see the potential in the space. Initially it was going to be a wine bar, then a gin bar, but I persuaded the owners to focus on cocktails. The owners placed a lot of trust in me and gave me free reign.” How would you describe the ethos and concept behind Cask? “The first is open a cool bar but with a country-style relaxed service. No pretence. Nice relaxed atmosphere. Do it all in a bar that aesthetically jumps out.” “Secondly, any ingredients used in the cocktails need to be grown in Ireland. We don’t use citrus, pineapples, bananas, mangos etc. Outside of the spirit, everything has to be grown in Ireland to get on the menu. The menu changes every three months to make the best use of seasonal ingredients. There’s a huge amount of work that goes into developing the menu. They are all original concepts and recipes and no drinks are ever repeated. We try to use a variety of products and we’re not tied into any particular supplier or brands.” Asked about the patrons, Andy says they have a great local, eclectic clientele and good tourist trade as Cork is a well-visited city. The cocktail menu usually consists of twelve to fourteen drinks with usually two or three Irish whiskey-based cocktails. Unusually perhaps, Andy picks “the right ingredients and then select the appropriate whiskey to pair with them. We’re big fans of Connemara, Jameson Black Barrel, Teeling and Roe & Co.” What’s the best thing about managing Cask and what inspires you? “The opportunity to work within an amazing team of passionate and gifted people and be inspired daily. Our desire is to make Cask the best bar in Ireland and we all share the same vision. I take my inspiration from nature and the potential to make original drinks through the infinite produce around me in Cork. My passion lies in making something completely unique while pushing the boundaries of flavour and our senses.” We asked Andy to share a couple of cocktail recipes from the Cask repertoire. Lucky for us he came up with three! Nettle Ingredients 60ml Roe & Co. 15ml Lichen 10ml Blackberry wine vinegar 120ml Fermented nettle soda To make the fermented nettle soda: Make strong nettle tea with fresh nettle tops only. To make 1L of the soda add 125g of unrefined sugar and 2g of citric acid. Allow to cool and add to a sterilised glass bottle with 60ml of ginger bug. To Serve Build in a Collins glass over ice, top up with the nettle soda. Garnish with a frozen blackberry and lichen. Children of the Corn Ingredients 40ml Teeling Single Malt A scoop of homemade Corn ice cream 10ml PX Sherry Pinch of Salt Garnish with grated Tonka To make the Corn ice cream: 2L Milk 2L Cream 960g egg yolk 720g sugar 6 organic corn Heat slowly (20 minutes) cream, milk and corn on very low heat. Blend and strain. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar and add half the corny milk/cream mix. Add that back into the rest of the corny milk/cream. Cook on a low heat until bubbles stop moving. Strain again and freeze/blend until happy with the consistency. To Serve Add the whiskey, sherry, ice cream and salt into a shaker and shake vigorously. Fine strain into a Nick & Nora. Grate Tonka bean over the top. Ingredients 10ml Connemara 40ml Green Spot 20ml Sugar snap peas To make the Sugar snap peas: Blend 500g of sugar snap peas with 1L of cold water. A quick blend until the pea pods are broken down is enough. Put blend into a sous vide bag and seal. Put into an ultrasonic water bath at 20oC for 45 minutes. Remove and fine strain then pass through a coffee filter. Add 1kg of caster sugar and 4g malic acid. To Serve Add all the ingredients in a mixing glass and stir with ice. Strain into a rocks glass over a block of ice. Garnish with halved sugar snap pea.