Andy Ferreira Discusses Cork Cocktail Bar Paladar

Paladar, in Cork – a Latin American-inspired cocktail bar and kitchen with a rotating menu of classic and signature cocktails based around rum, cachaça, agave and pisco – has been announced as a 2023 Spirited Awards regional top-ten honouree for Best New Cocktail Bar for Europe.


Paladar comes from the team who created Cask on MacCurtain Street, and it is owned by Andy Ferreira. Bar manager Oisín Wolfe – a finalist in this year’s Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender of the Year – curates the cocktail menu.  Since their founding in 2007, the Spirited Awards – run by the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation – have become some of the industry’s most sought-after accolades, celebrating global excellence in the drinks industry and recognising professionals, organisations and establishments shaping the cocktail community worldwide. The judging panel includes respected bartenders, bar owners, educators and writers from across the globe, who draw on their years of experience to evaluate nominees from far and wide, to ensure that the Spirited Awards are inclusive and represent the breadth and diversity of the global drinks industry.


Congratulations, Andy! So, tell us, what makes a great cocktail bar?

Interior design, lighting, music at the right level, the welcome you receive when you go in the door – all the elements that make up any great bar. For me, what’s key is cohesion. I think the cocktail bars that work well have a very clear identity and know what’s important to them.

At the end of the day, though, bartenders make great bars. The best mojito I ever had was in Cuba, nearly 20 years ago now. It was in a pretty ordinary bar in the countryside. The elderly bartender went walkabout to get the mint, and he seemed to be gone forever. He just sauntered back in his own time and made me the best mojito I’ve ever had in my life – I still remember it to this day. Cocktail bars and bars in general are about how they make you feel. Atmosphere and friendliness is far more important than block ice and sexy glassware.


How has the Irish customer’s approach to cocktails changed in the last ten years?

To be honest, I’d say if you looked at the best-selling cocktails from ten years ago in Ireland, they wouldn’t be a million miles away from the current best-selling drinks. Margaritas, espresso Martinis, etc. are still super popular. Where things have changed is that Irish cocktail bars have evolved and standards have increased – better ingredients and methodology, but you’ll still see that famous Irish charm. As our cocktail bars have improved, so has the expectation of our guests, and that’s a good thing.


Where do you get your inspiration?

Food and drink is akin to music or art. There’s an infinity of combinations, and when you get it right and you nail that riff or create a really interesting, tasty drink, it’s incredibly rewarding. I love, at the weekends, sneakily watching guests have that first sip of one of our drinks. It’s so rewarding when you see a smile after the first sip or a look of interest when they’re tasting a combination they’ve never had before. The inspiration comes from trying to give customers a good time and a great experience in our bars.


Talk us through some of the trends that you’re seeing in cocktails and cocktail bars.

Less booze is an obvious one – drink less, drink better – low ABV and no ABV. The number of products in this category is hard to keep up with. It’s so important to have a quality non-alcoholic cocktail offering. Other trends? Natural wines have exploded, obviously. I think we’re maybe going out less, but we also want to have a really good time and don’t mind spending a few quid on quality when we do go out.

It’s funny – being asked about trends is one of the most common questions, but I always struggle with it. For brands, it’s obviously key to know what’s going on in the markets, but for us, as operators, it still comes down to guests wanting to have fun and have tasty food and drinks.


What does it mean to you to be shortlisted and nominated for this award?

It’s amazing. I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in award-winning bars in Ireland for nearly two decades. The thing about success, though, is you always want more. For years I craved recognition on a global awards [level] – not necessarily for a bar I operated, just any Irish cocktail bar. The reality is, though, it’s an incredibly competitive industry.

Last year, Cask was nominated in the top ten in Europe for Best Cocktail Bar at Tales of the Cocktail, and this year, Paladar and 1661, in Dublin, were both nominated, so it’s the first year ever we’ve had two bars nominated, which is a testament to the work being put in. Our culinary scene has been globally respected for a while now, and, finally, the world is seeing that our cocktail bars are also at a really good level.



Original article by Dave Simpson on

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