Ali Burgess: Luck breeds happiness

“When I was working at Pegu club an Australian guy took me to Brooklyn to buy a fake visa for $200 from a Mexican in Brooklyn – it’s such a cliché.”

Saunders gave Burgess a different perspective on bartending, but after a couple of years and a breakup with his girlfriend, he wanted another change.

“All I had wanted to do since I was 20 was open my own bar. I was nearly 30, living illegally in the US and I realised I needed to move back and open my own place.

“I got a job in a boutique hotel, stuck it out for eight months then realised ‘Oh my god, this is terrible. I’m having a terrible time in London.’”

Burgess decided that moving back to New York would salvage the situation. He handed in his notice at the hotel and got a part time role at Milk & Honey while waiting for his tenancy agreement to run out. But a week later he got a call about a bar space up for grabs.

“As soon as I walked down the stairs it took me five seconds to say ‘it’s perfect’.

“Three weeks from that day we opened. It was nuts. The whole project snowballed and the rest, as they say, is history. One of my favourite things is that people shorten the name of my bar to just ‘happiness’.

Burgess’ desire to be a leader as well as a top bartender has taken him to great heights, and he’s far from done. In 2014 he opened his second bar, Original Sin, and two years later Petit Pois, a boutique restaurant above Happiness Forgets. With big plans already lined up for 2018, Burgess will be looking out for his next bit of fortune on which to capatalise.