Newport Has To Wave Goodbye To Another Top Mixologist

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Bartender extraordinaire Corey Hayes is leaving for Miami.

It’s the tragic nature of Newport’s best cocktailers that eventually, they all seem to leave town (or bartending)…and when they do, it’s almost always from 509 Thames Street. Corey Hayes is no exception. Tonight (Wednesday, November 10) is Corey’s last night at TSK. Tomorrow he packs up and starts his drive south to Miami, taking with him an encyclopedic knowledge of libations and possibly a little too much cockiness.

espresso martini fluke newport
One of Corey’s thousands of espresso martinis

Corey worked at Asterisk when the espresso martini exploded, then left the state to bartend in Vail, Colorado. He returned and started bartending at the newly opened Parlor. His tenure there was short-lived, however, as he was hired away to work at one of Newport’s most well-known cocktail establishments, Fluke. After a couple years, Hayes began to feel constrained. He wanted to put his mark on the cocktailing world.

Opportunity Knocks

Corey Hayes competing in a Thomas Tew cocktail competition in 2016
Corey Hayes competing in a Thomas Tew cocktail competition in 2016

As irony would have it, that opportunity happened a couple days AFTER Corey had put in his two weeks notice at Fluke. Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina was opening and needed a beverage manager for the resort’s numerous bars and restaurants. Corey got the job and immediately went from bartending a small high-end restaurant to managing a massive luxury estate. The creative license he wanted to create new drinks was replaced by a requirement that he create entire cocktail menus for five different bars. In short order, Corey found his cocktails being feature in national publications like USA Today and Marie Claire.

A match made in heaven

Corey Hayes Gurneys Beverage Manager

Of course, given that this is real life, Corey soon discovered that his new dream job required a lot more managing than beveraging and wasn’t all swording champagne magnums. In the spring of 2018, Corey was approached by the owners of TSK to find a bar manager for their long-term residence at The Revolving Door.

He ended up pulling the Dick Cheney Maneuver. If you remember your political history, Cheney, upon being tasked to find the best Vice President for George W Bush, discovered that the person who was knowledgeable, smart, funny, good-looking and confident enough for the job was him. TSK agreed.

Corey Hayes TSK Newport

A year later and Hayes has been picked up by a Miami restaurant group as their beverage manager, another rising Newport star snatched by bigger and better opportunities out in the world.

Where have all the cowboys gone?

We seem to be coming to the end of the crazy craft cocktail era here in Newport. However, it’s not that craft cocktails are hard to come by at this point. Much like craft beer, they’ve become the norm in Newport. If you want to be a good bartender, you’re expected to know your way around a negroni as much as a Tito’s & Soda.

It’s just not quite as exciting as walking into a cocktail den and sampling the latest experimental concoction. Then again, maybe we’re just getting old and want to tell the young kids how much better it was in our day.

We’ll miss Corey and we wish him the best…but his departure puts another coffin in the era of the rebel mixologist.

(We’ll be heading down to TSK to say our goodbyes tonight. Feel free to join.)

-Tristan Pinnock, Blast Cocktail Correspondent

Tristan's just this guy, ya know?