Top 50 Cocktail Bars

What it takes to be the Rising Star

Emerging bartenders all over the UK entered the first Rising Star award, but only one could win. We sit down with Oscar Perry to learn about his victory

Charli Tomney | 12/04/2024

2024 marked the introduction of the Bar-Fabric Rising Star Award into the Top 50 Cocktail Bars stratosphere crowning Oscar Perry as the deserved winner. We sat down with him to discover what makes him the Rising Star, how did his career in bartending start, what makes a great cocktail bar and what can we expect to see from him in the future?

Perry’s career started in 2021 after 2 tedious years in and out of lockdown stacking shelves at a local supermarket.

He says ‘I was looking for something more passionate that brought me around people. I wanted to be more social, especially after losing 2 years of my youth to lockdowns.’

He started experimenting with drinks at home but looked elsewhere for inspiration adding ‘after a little trip to London visiting Satan's Whiskers, I realised that it was something I could do as a career, so I approached it that way.’

After moving to London in 2021, he jumped straight into bar backing all whilst working his full-time day job retail. His dedication to his craft and 78-hour weeks paid off when he was finally able to get behind a bar and go full-time in a role he loved. Since taking the leap Perry adds that he ‘hasn’t looked back’ and is now currently a bartender at Murder Inc in London’s Soho.

Bartending to Perry has always been a way of creative expression, saying ‘there's so much more to working behind the bar than making drinks, being able to talk to people, meet new people, having control of atmosphere and creating experiences through lighting and through sound and playlists.’

When discussing the industry, he highlights his love for the attention to detail in every aspect of shaping someone’s night out, allowing him to focus and perfect lots of small things at once. This is what he believes makes a great cocktail bar.

He explains ‘the theory that I've come up with over time is this balance between comfortability, and curiosity. A great bar should be able to keep you interested, it should arouse your curiosity, whether that's through drinks, music, decor or through service.’

He adds that a great cocktail bar is a place where you feel comfortable enough to sit in all night noting that some of his favourite spots in the UK all have that balance.

He adds ‘I think the Hideout in Bath is phenomenal for that reason, it's such a quaint little spot with such interesting cocktails and the music is amazing.  I could say the same thing about Satan's Whiskers. Phenomenal, great service every time.’

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Another bar which has piqued Perry’s interest was a new entry on the Top 50 Cocktail Bars list for 2024, Crossroads in Newington Green, telling us that they are home to one of the best drinks he thinks he’s ever tasted.

When speaking about the bar, he highlights their approach to serving craft cocktails with soulful ingredients paired with awesome décor and cool service is what makes it stand out.

On winning the award in February this year he says it was an honour and humbling to be recognised saying the spotlight on him has made him adapt and change the way he works.

The process took place over several weeks with a final face to face day session at the Brown-Forman head office in London where each finalist was challenged with making an original drink served as part of an experience. This gave everyone a chance to meet and get to know each other as part of the advocacy programme which Perry noted was his favourite part.

He explains ‘having the opportunity to meet these people and start developing a little community of the newer generation of bartenders who joined post COVID is really nice.

you can feel quite isolated being young in this industry, which sounds bizarre, but if you're going to work in a top 50 UK cocktail bar, you're normally going to be surrounded by people who are at least five, six, or even fifteen years in the industry.’

He explains that creating a network of young and emerging bartenders is a great opportunity to lay down foundations for the future, highlighting that the finalists were a national network from Liverpool to London who will be shaping the future of bars.

The process of entering the Rising Star Award for Perry was simple advising any potential applicants to ‘throw their name into the hat’

His advice continues telling people to ‘showcase your work and do stuff that's interesting. Do stuff that's different. Stand out from the crowd a little bit.

make interesting drinks, make soulful drinks with great flavour and big up yourself and do stuff that represents your personality.’

Although his advice is to stand out, he realises that it takes work to set yourself above the rest, which he says was the most challenging part of the competition.

He adds ‘there's a lot of impostor syndrome with stuff like this, especially when you're surrounding yourself with really, really big talent

if you put your personality into what you do, then it's going to become more authentic.’

Since his victory, Perry has gone on to win the IWSC Emerging Talent in Bartending which was announced just weeks after Top 50 Cocktail Bars. Despite these titles, Perry says he is keeping his head down and focusing on the new menu at Murder Inc. and working with some of his favourite brands like Woodford Reserve.

He’s adds that he’s having fun with the new drinks which are ‘all focused on bold flavours, interesting techniques and trying to get away from thin glass block ice, no garnish style of drinks, creating something a little bit more interesting.’

We can’t wait to see what else is in store for Oscar and for the release of the new menu at Murder Inc.

If you’re interested in learning more about Top 50 Cocktail Bars, the Rising Star Award or for other ways you can get involved then please contact