Belfast-born Frankie Cosgrove launched his bartending career at the age of 16 when he abandoned a retail post with Pound World in the city and moved to Café Vaudeville where he became a waiter and bar-backer. He’s been talking to LCN.
During his days at university in Liverpool, where he successfully gained an honours degree in English, Frankie kept his hand in, working at the Revolutions vodka bar chain. And when he returned to Belfast, his appetite for a career in hospitality had been firmly whetted.
Determined to work for another large chain, Frankie successfully applied for a position with Beannchor and in November 2014, he took a position behind the bar at Sixty6 in Belfast, just one month before the new venue was due to open its doors.
“When I first saw the job advertised, I was immediately attracted to the whole style and appearance of the place,” recalls Frankie, now aged 24. “It’s a fantastic place to work and the team here is great with a big diversity in backgrounds, which makes it easy to learn about trends in other parts of the world. That’s a good thing in a place like Belfast which is so up and coming, it’s constantly evolving and you need to stay in tune with what people want.”
Frankie admits to a personal preference for the more “traditional” bars, citing The Merchant, Bert’s and The National next door as particular favourites. Last year, he was one of three talented local bartenders who defeated stiff competition to be named Hennessy Connoisseurs, winning valuable training and a trip to Hennessy’s headquarters in France as a result.
“I really enjoy working with cocktails and spirit knowledge is an essential part of that, so it’s important to get out and try new things, look at new ways of doing things” he says. “That’s why I love getting to new places.”
He attributes the growing cocktail renaissance to a new awareness among consumers which, he says, is linked to the modern passion for food. And he also thinks that many of the culinary skills traditionally found in the kitchen have begun to make their way into the bar trade and into the cocktail sector in particular:
“It’s no longer just about pre-mixes, there’s a lot more craft involved in making drinks now and people are much more interested in the whole process,” he says. “The whole process is much more involved. For many people, it’s about going out, sitting down and having a meal along with your drinks.”
Frankie’s own favourite tipple is a Zubrowka vodka martina with a sprig of rosemary added to give it an irresistible aroma.
And if he wasn’t mixing drinks behind a bar, Frankie says that he’d likely go down the marketing route, combining the creative flair he discovered while studying English at university with his practical knowledge of the needs and wants of consumers.
“Either that or something in hospitality management,” he says. Something fast-paced, creative and target-driven. But really, my priority is just enjoyment. That’s the most essential thing. It’s what this industry is all about and it’s what separates us from those people who do 9 to 5 jobs. We get out, we meet new people, we get to be creative and innovative and really enjoy what we are doing. I want to make the most of that opportunity.”
Like many of those who appear in this feature, Frankie admits that he’d love to open a bar of his own at some point:
“I think it would be pretty scary but I’d love to do that,” he admits. “Beannchor is a good company if that’s what you want to do, there have been people who have done it in the past and they have been very supportive of their effort, so I wouldn’t rule it out.”
Room for Dessert
35ml Aviation Gin
25ml Plymouth sloe gin
10ml Creme De Cassis
50ml Double cream
Dessert spoon of Mascarpone cheese
Add lime peels, blackberries and Mascarpone cheese to a tin and muddle. Then add liquid ingredients. Shake hard and strain into a tea cup and saucer. Serve with digestive biscuits!