A COCKTAIL legend who went to school in Bolton has died aged 68.

Gary ‘Gaz’ Regan passed away on Friday November 15 at Newburgh Hospital in the state of New York following complications from cancer, including pneumonia.

The news was posted to his Facebook page by Amy Gallagher, his wife, in a post that read: “I’m sorry to say that Gaz passed away last night after a bout with pneumonia.

“He died peacefully and believed that his soul lived on. I miss him already. Sending love to all.”

Hundreds of tributes to the mixologist were posted across social media, with many people sharing photos and videos of themselves enjoying Gaz’s signature drink, a finger-stirred Negroni, a cocktail made with gin, vermouth rosso, and Campari.

The Bolton schoolboy’s dedication to alcoholic beverages started at the Prince Rupert in Great Lever, a pub owned by his parents, Bernard and Vi, during the sixties.

He started attending County Grammar school at the age of 14, where his outgoing personality, mod clothes, and status as the drummer in The Sons of Adam made him very popular. 

Gary emigrated to the United States when he was 22, bartending at an Irish bar in the Upper East Side of Manhattan upon his arrival.

Schoolfriend Bill Bradbury said: “He was a great bloke, I knew he wasn’t well but he’s left a void in our lives.

“People always talk about people being a legend but Gaz really was one.

"The world of cocktails has lost a giant, Amy has lost a husband, we in Bolton have lost a friend."

Gary discovered a love of writing during his time in the States, completing columns for Food Arts, Wine Enthusiast, and his most well-known work, The Cocktailian in the San Francisco Chronicle.

He went on to write 18 books on cocktails and bartending, including The Bartender’s Bible, The Bourbon Companion, New Classic Cocktails, and the annual 101 Best New Cocktails.

He was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Tales of the Cocktails’ Spirited Awards in 2012 for his writing.

After battling tongue cancer in 2003, Gary reinvented himself as Gaz and started wearing eyeliner under one of his eyes as a reminder that eye contact with customers was a vital part of bartending.

Gaz moved out from New York City into Cornwall-on-Hudson, setting up a two-day bartending course called Cocktails in the Country.

His illustrious career saw him meet many well-known faces, including Quentin Crisp, Chrissy Teigen, and Richard Nixon.

Despite his success, Gaz never forgot his friends in Bolton, returning to the town every few years for real ale, steak pudding, chips and curry sauce. 

Gaz is survived by his wife Amy and his creation, the Worldwide Bartender Database, an online portal for bartenders and spirits producers.