A Belfast man who left Northern Ireland about 20 years ago to pursue his dream of becoming a world-class cocktail maker in New York after his co-owned Manhattan hangout was named the North American Best Bar. It’s a toast.

ichael McIlroy and his business partner Sam Ross opened Attaboy in early 2013 on the Lower East Side, in the same space as the former iconic Milk and Honey Cocktail Bar.

Polished under the renowned owner of Milk and Honey, Sacha Petraske, the pair saves hints in eight years after a former mentor and boss moved the venture to a new location, “a little budget.” Opened Ataboy at.

The small bar, which seats 28 people at a time, is one of New York’s coolest bars and has built a reputation as a hotspot for destinations, thanks to bespoke cocktails and a laid-back Speakeasy atmosphere. ..

It was now announced as the number one bar in North America at the first North American 50 Best Bars Awards. This is one of the 11 New York venues on the list.

McIlroy, 39, from northern Belfast, said he and his Australian business partner were at the top of the prestigious list of Mexico City’s Handshake Speakeasy and Licoleria Reman Tour ranked second and third. It was “humility.”

McIlroy, who is pleased to own a total of five bars, told Belfast Telegraph: “I used to work in an apartment bar when I was young and loved making cocktails. I wanted to do it as a full-time job.

“I wanted to work at the best cocktail bar, but everything I heard and read about Milk and Honey pointed in that direction, so I jumped on a plane and flew to New York.

“I asked the owner if I could work there. He said:” Did you come all the way from Belfast for work? “And I said” yes “to him.

“He said,’Well, that’s enough,’ and I was hired. That was the beginning of everything.”

McIlroy met Ross on Milk and Honey, and the two who shared similar ambitions became friends. Over the course of eight years, they perfected their cocktail-making skills and saved a lot of tips until Petraske had enough to open an Ataboy when he moved milk and honey uptown.

For two months, the man prepared the Ataboy 24 hours a day, making the bar a huge success without any investment or public relations campaign.

“There is no gimmick that other bars want,” he said.

“There isn’t even a cocktail menu. When people come to the bar, we ask them what flavors and alcohol they like and make bespoke cocktails for them.

“The bar is very small and has only 28 seats, so before you join, you need to ask how many people are attending the party.”

From pina colada to penicillin (Ataboy’s specialty drink of whiskey, ginger, honey and lemon juice), the bar’s cocktails are famous and small teams including mixologist Haley Traub praise them from critics and contemporaries. It has been.

Next year, Ataboy will celebrate its 10th anniversary. McIlroy and Ross are keen to expand their business with more bars in the United States and farther away.

McIlroy said the award came to a great time for Ataboy and his team after a difficult time with Covid’s pandemic.

And he said they were all still shocked to win America’s best bar.

“We were reading the list from 50 to 40, 30, and I started wondering if we did it,” McIlroy said.

“It was shocking to know that we were the first to come, but we are incredibly happy and humble.

“A lot of blood, sweat and tears opened the Ataboy and built it up in today’s bar.”

Mark Sansom, content director of the 50 Best Boys in North America, explains why Ataboy came first, saying: good. “

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