Industry Mourns Death of Bartender Ryan McGrale

The Tavern Road beverage manager died unexpectedly Saturday.

Ryan McGrale

Ryan McGrale at Tavern Road / Photo via Tavern Road on Facebook

Boston’s bar scene lost a true innovator, friend, and sherry advocate this weekend. Ryan McGrale, beverage director at Tavern Road, died from a “tragic accident” on Saturday night, according to his employer. Tavern Road shared on Facebook:

The entire Tavern Road family is crushed for our loss, as well as for the loss of Ryan’s family, girlfriend and friends. We are humbled by the love we have seen for Ryan since the news broke.

McGrale, a Massachusetts native, built a reputation on congenial hospitality, a mastery of classic cocktails, and an endearing sense of humor. He helped usher in Boston’s cocktail revival from behind the bar at No. 9 Park, where he spent much of the 2000s. Food & Wine noticed the young and promising bartender in 2006, naming McGrale one of the country’s top talents. He moved to New York City for a stint as head bartender at the acclaimed Flatiron Lounge before moving back to Boston to consult. In 2012, he joined longtime friend Louis DiBaccari and the chef’s brother, Michael, in opening Tavern Road.

Friends in Boston and beyond have been sharing memories about McGrale on his social media this week, including a long read from his longtime friend, Tavern Road owner Louis DiBiccari:

It happened on a Monday night 8 years ago at No 9 Park St. I crashed a party I wasn’t invited to. It was a sous chef…

Posted by Louis DiBiccari on Monday, November 16, 2015

The staff at Union Square’s Backbar is offering a special in McGrale’s honor all this week.


Former Barbara Lynch Gruppo director of operations Eli Felding:

I had the joy and inspiration of watching Ryan Mcgrale behind the bar at No. 9 Park for over 8 years. I have only…

Posted by Eli Feldman on Sunday, November 15, 2015

State Park and former Hungry Mother chef/owner Barry Maiden:

Yvonne’s pastry chef Kate Howlichik:

Got up this morning and got ready for work. Looking in the mirror, I took a moment and realized something that too many…

Posted by Kate Holowchik on Sunday, November 15, 2015

Hunt & Alpine Club in Portland, Maine:

Michaela Horan, a server at Tavern Road:

I really want to write something poignant and beautiful about Ryan Mcgrale, but nothing I verbalize will be as charming…

Posted by Michaela Costello Horan on Sunday, November 15, 2015

The public remembrances have been pouring in all Sunday long, and will likely continue.

UPDATE, Wednesday, November 18, 2:30 p.m.: This post has been updated with thoughts from Louis DiBiccari and Backbar.