IAIN MCPHERSON 

Iain McPherson, Owner of Panda & Sons, and esteemed winner of the Best Mixologist Award, reveals more about his successful career in the bar industry, detailing his accomplishments and sharing some wise words of advice for fellow visionaries of mixology. 

Please tell our readers briefly about your career in the industry so far, and the role you find yourself in today.

My career started off as a Barback in The Voodoo Rooms, back in 2007. It was amazing, I worked with amazing bartenders there, like Ryan Cheti, Shervene Shahbazkhani and Jeremy Blackmore, to name but a few. They really captured my attention to the world of cocktails. I love history and art, and I saw a lot of this in cocktails and spirits. I progressed through the ranks and was GM for a few years there, before leaving in 2013. I had a short stint working at the influential bar, Villager (RIP), during the refurb process of Panda & Sons. Now, 10 years on, I am lucky to have two other bars called Hoot The Redeemer and Nauticus. My role is mostly focused on innovation, education and being a brand ambassador for my bar.

What has been your greatest career accomplishment to date? 

This is hard to choose. Having a bar for 10 years is a great achievement. Personally, being recognised for Innovator Of The Year at CLASS awards last year is up there, but also representing Scotland in The World’s 50 Best Bars. Finally, I must mention Best Mixologist Award at the Bar Magazine Awards – my first mixology award!

What has been an important lesson you have learnt within your time in the industry? 

You never know what’s around the corner, so don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Enjoy the good times, but also have things in place to prepare for the hard times.

Why do you believe you won the Best Mixologist Award?

I was very humbled to win. There were so many other incredible bartenders on that list. I think it came down to my innovation, and my transparency with our techniques, to enable other bartenders around the world to use them.

Is there anyone you’d like to express your gratitude towards for your success? 

When I won the awards, the first thing that came to mind was that this is an award for all the bartenders at all of the bars I’m associated with. They are the ones grafting day in day out, and make my vision a reality. Without them, everything I do would just be theory. So, this is for them, I can’t thank them enough.

What advice would you give to someone interested in entering the 2025 Bar Magazine Awards? 

Stay true to what you believe in. If you don’t put yourself out there, you can’t push your limits. Also don’t be deterred if you don’t win at the first time of trying; keep going, keep getting better, and you will make it!

Please share any words of wisdom for aspiring ‘Best Mixologists’. 

Please stay humble and remember where you came from at the beginning of your career. Treat others how you would expect to be treated yourself. Ego stops progression, you need to keep learning every day.