McGurk departs The Savoy

Declan McGurk is to leave The Savoy in London, after seven years at the helm of the hotel's famed American Bar, Drinks International can exclusively reveal.

Amid a raft of redundancies across London’s hotel bars following COVID-19, the departure of McGurk – widely recognised as the American Bar’s figurehead - would have been scarcely imaginable six months ago.

Head bartender of the American Bar, Maxim Schulte, has also left the Savoy.

McGurk was widely considered a pivotal figure in bringing the historically important American Bar back to the forefront of the global bar industry.

In partnership with head bartenders Erik Lorincz (2010-2018) and Maxim Schulte (2018-2020), the Savoy’s American Bar won The World’s 50 Best Bars in 2017 during McGurk's tenure, and took two runner-up spots amid six top-ten finishes.

McGurk, who joined the Savoy in 2013, was promoted to a newly created role of director of bars in 2018, leading both the American Bar and Beaufort Bar.

In recognition of his leadership and managerial qualities – particularly in terms of hospitality and staff development - McGurk won Bar Manager of the Year at the Class Bar Awards in 2019.

McGurk’s tenure will be remembered for imaginative yet in-keeping cocktail menus which drew inspiration from the live music and photography of the American Bar. The Beaufort Bar’s Interpretative Magic menu last year was another example of his headline-attracting work.

He told DI: “I’m completely at peace with what is a unique situation - tough decisions are going to have to be made during this period. People might say I’ve lost my dream job, but I prefer to say I’ve done my dream job. When you love where you work, you might not ever leave, so it’s probably a good time to kick on and grow my career elsewhere.

"I’m proud of my tenure and am looking forward to spending time with the family. I’m not sad about having a summer off! In September I’ll look at my future. Whatever I do, I have to feel I’m progressing and it has to be the right company.”

Despite job losses in the sector, McGurk remains positive about its future. “I can see some green shoots for the industry. By Spring I think the boom period will come for hotel bars. I think London and its hotels will recover.”