Liam Davy: Hawksmoor's Young Veteran

Having entered the hospitality industry in the early 2000s, Liam Davy is considered a veteran of the bartending community.

His name is synonymous with international restaurant chain Hawksmoor, where he currently acts as head of bars for the group. But carrying the veteran status doesn’t reflect his age, having accumulated 20 years of hospitality experience before turning 40. 

“So much has changed over the past 20 years or so but a lot of the faces have stayed around, which is really interesting,” says Davy, sat in Hawksmoor’s latest London opening The Lowback. 

“I don’t think innovation has ever been higher in the London bar trade so it’s a great time to be working here.” Davy’s first major step into hospitality came in 2005 when he joined Jonathan Downey’s Match Bar before a stint at the legendary Milk & Honey in Soho. 

“After leaving university I felt passionate about being a bartender. I met Kevin Armstrong (now owner of Satan’s Whiskers) at a cocktail competition in 2003 and we became really good friends before he invited me to come and work at Match Bar. That’s when I really immersed myself in that top-level environment. 

“But I must admit I’m quite faddy. I’m guilty of turning my attention to other things, and so about three years after bartending professionally I was desperate to learn about wine.” 

Davy joined Downey’s Shoreditch wine bar, East Room, as sommelier, working alongside a young Michael Sager. However in 2010, shortly before Downey’s venue burnt down, he made his debut for the Hawksmoor group, joining the Seven Dials venue part time.

“By that point I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with my life and had met Hawksmoor co-founder Huw Gott at a charity event. The Seven Dials restaurant was their showcase opening of the year and I began just doing a couple of shifts behind the bar, but I loved the culture of the company and it was unique to anywhere else I’d worked. It was an amazing place for me to forge a career.”

In just five years, Davy worked his way up to general manager and since then he’s been a central figure in the group’s bar programme. However, it hasn’t always been plain sailing. In early 2020 he was living in New York getting the new Hawksmoor site ready for opening, when disaster struck. 

“I’d been there for a month leading up to the opening and then with the fridges full of prepped food, staff fully trained and the bar ready to go, the world fell into lockdown. That was a really tough decision to take.” 

Davy also had a short break from the company when he opened his own Mexican place called Bad Sports. “That was a learning curve. I found out a lot about my strengths and weaknesses as an operator. To be perfectly honest, we couldn’t make it work as a business which is a shame because it had a lot of good will from the industry and its regulars.”