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Most Imaginative Bartender Canvas Project: Mark Tubridy

November 12, 2020

Story: Punch Staff

art: Nick Hensley

Mark Tubridy, national finalist in the 2020 Most Imaginative Bartender Competition, on breaking down barriers to the creative process.

Mark Tubridy was raised in a household filled with music, absorbing principles of harmony and balance that would prove invaluable in his bartending career. Now in his 11th year of mixing drinks, currently at one of New York’s oldest dining institutions, Tubridy approaches cocktails like a veteran jazz player heading into a jam session: Start with the standards and spin off from there. “It’s important to be open to happy accidents,” says Tubridy.

Tubridy grew up in Connecticut as the son of a Juilliard-trained opera singer and a classically trained musician; by the time he was graduating from high school, he had joined a band with his brother, and the two decided to move to New York City to pursue a future in music.

“We gave it the good college try,” Tubridy says, but their act never took off in a major way. Meanwhile, through a gig at a high-volume Midtown Manhattan restaurant, he found himself enchanted with the intricacies and discipline of bar work. After four years, he worked his way up to head bartender, then took a role at a stalwart Manhattan restaurant—a former Prohibition-era speakeasy where he received a real education in classic cocktails and executing solid technique.

This is where he’s found his musical background to be most helpful, in walking the line between structure and improvisation, making sure every ingredient and addition is in proportion. “There are so many elements of a great song, and there are a lot of elements of a great cocktail,” he says. “It’s about knowing that you want something in a cocktail or song, but also knowing to what degree it should be prevalent.”

Mark Tubridy on Rekindling the Creative Process

About the Canvas Project

BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® Gin, in partnership with Tales of the Cocktail Foundation, is proud to present ‘The Canvas Project’, a content series featuring the creative passions of the 12 finalists in the 2020 Most Imaginative Bartender (MIB) Competition. From photography and videography, to home gardening tips and mindfulness tutorials, the webinars are designed to spark inspiration and discovery, and foster connection by sharing bartenders’ personal passions in times of hardship.

Last year’s iteration of MIB introduced the Canvas Challenge, a $25,000 grant awarded to a finalist to turn their creative vision into reality. This ambitious test further heightened the imagination component of the competition to a new level and served as a reinforcement of Bombay Sapphire’s belief in the innate creativity of bartenders, which often translates outside the glass as much as it does inside of it.

The episodes of ‘The Canvas Project’ are designed around the Canvas Challenge submissions of the 12 finalists, who hail from Portland to Atlanta, Toronto to Miami, giving viewers a peek inside the inner workings of the program.

Read More About Mark

This Is What Creativity Means to Mark Tubridy

The New York bartender on taking a musician’s approach to cocktails, the one album he’d listen to forever and the recipe for his Songbird cocktail.



An earthy Negroni variation featuring black pepper–fig syrup and coffee-infused verjus blanc.


Meet the Most Imaginative Bartender National Finalists

The 12 bartenders from the U.S. and Canada advancing to the MIB national finals.