With now over sixteen years experience working in different hotels and bars throughout the world, Sean Muldoon has established a very definite reputation as Ireland's pre-eminent cocktail authority.
"It was back in 1998 during my time working in Botanic Inns that I was first introduced to cocktails and mixed drinks" he says. "It was there that I first met Morgan Watson and it was he who would later become a major influence for me taking bartending and the art of mixed drinks seriously."
Sean left Botanic Inns at the beginning of 2002 to set up his own business venture: 'The Perfect Drinks Company'. Through this, he offered a one-stop consultancy and event bartending service (the first of its kind in Ireland) and contributed considerably to various establishments of that time receiving major bar awards: Bar Opium - Theme Magazine Award for Best Cocktail List (Ireland & the UK) & Zen Restaurant - Theme Magazine Award for Best Restaurant (Ireland & the UK), to name but a few.
He came to The Merchant Hotel in February 2006 as Bars & Potations Manager and has within that time built The Bar at The Merchant Hotel up to become a truly world class bar.
On his bar management style, Sean says that he is a "highly confident individual who thrives on challenge and success". He is a great communicator, leading by example and understands the day to day running of a bar fully and the need for a great team rapport above all else. He is forward thinking and believes that hard work and attention to detail are essential in order to achieve positive results.
It is however through the work that both he and Steven Pattison have done with the Connoisseurs Club that Sean says he is most proud of. "It was originally set up based on something the General Manager of the hotel casually suggested to me one day. I took his idea and went with it but I'd absolutely no idea back then how big or important something like this could turn out to be.
'I unreservedly regard The Connoisseurs Club at The Merchant Hotel to be one of the single most important developments ever to take place in either the Irish or UK hospitality industry's. I hope that other countries will follow suit and in time embrace the notion of bringing education and training programmes such as this to their own doorstep, so that we may in turn all contribute to raising the culture of bartending across the globe".
The 'Sean Muldoon Cocktail Bar Station'
Aged 16, fresh out of school and debating his future in the education system, Steven Pattison landed a job at his local wine and spirit store in Belfast, to keep himself occupied through the summer months. Being so young he was unable to actually serve behind a counter but instead worked on his bottle to shelf co-ordination. Little did he know that he'd soon discover an insatiable passion and fascination for the wine and spirits world.
Glorified shelf stacking and the reading of every bottle of wine and spirit in the store gave Steven the best foundation to start his career in the industry. During his early years and while becoming manager of the wine and spirit store he started a sideline business in design. This enabled him to enjoy the diversity and history of alcoholic products and also get a true understanding of products design, branding and aesthetics. However the lure of the drinks industry and need to learn more about the craft meant that Steven felt the need to sell the design business to concentrate even more on his first true love - Liquid!
His future vocation was discovered after several years of hard graft at his local store, which won best wine and spirit outlet in the country several times. Along with being regarded as the spirit library for both the trade and the public, he decided to move on and start working more closely with the trade itself. The opportunities that arose from his new position at an up and coming wholesale company were vast and he engulfed himself in the business learning new ideas and directions from the team that were based there. His time spent in premium wholesale helped to broaden his understanding of everything from procurement and logistics to brand owners and consumers. During this time Steven wrote 2 industry acclaimed Bar Library books and also put together this country's first premium Cocktail Events Company. Education is of the utmost importance to the Steven's philosophy, which now enables him to host talks on brands and categories to bartenders and eager members of the public on a regular basis.
Everything that Steven enjoys about the drinks industry started to come together at the start of 2009 when he started Drinksology. The company has evolved and grown rapidly since opening its doors and was established as a design and innovations company creating concepts and visuals for many of the globes largest drinks companies. The Drinksology Creative Studio based in Belfast now has a highly skilled team of illustrators, web developers, designers, 3D animators and visual effects artists. Drinksology has added a wholesale and distribution division specialising in premium spirit brands. Currently supplying the Irish and Scottish market with all their cocktail and spirit needs. Quite literally keeping you in good spirits.
The hard graft and effort that Steven has put into the industry has recently seen him recognised by the prestigious industry magazine 'Theme' which presented him with an 'Outstanding Contribution to the Irish Drinks Industry'.