Those who knew Gary Regan have probably heard by now that he passed away on November 15th.
Gaz, as everyone called him, was a legend in the world of bartenders and cocktails. He mentored so many people, and reached so many more through his writings and appearances. The word “legend” is far overused in our society. But I think Gaz might just have earned it.
He wrote one of the seminal cocktail books, The Joy of Mixology, which was originally published in 2003, just as the craft cocktail movement was getting started. Through it and subsequent books, lectures, and seminars, he taught a generation of bartenders great insight into their craft.
Gaz was also known for reviving the category of orange bitters — a cocktail ingredient that had disappeared from the world — when he introduced his Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6 in 2005. This not only resurrected a crucial ingredient of many classic cocktails, it helped spur on the bitters business in general, which now consists of scores of brands and hundreds of flavors.
Gaz was a wonderful storyteller — see his book The Cocktailian Chronicles — and a deeply kind and generous man. He practiced Buddhism and meditation, and was the one who introduced me to the concept of mindfulness, something I struggle with (as we all do), but always strive for.
Sadly, I never had the chance to meet him in person, but through the magic of email and social media, I still considered him a friend. I send my deepest condolences to his wife, Amy.
Gaz touched many lives and he will be greatly missed. I’m sharing a photograph of one of his books that he inscribed to me, and I’m sending my love back to him. Rest in peace, Gaz. You will be missed.