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avatar for Jim Kearns

Jim Kearns

The Happiest Hour
Head Bartender and Partner
Brooklyn, NY
Jim Kearns is head bartender and partner at The Happiest Hour, a new bi-level drinking and dining destination in New York’s Greenwich Village that salutes America’s sexiest decades. He is responsible for developing and executing a beverage program at the highest level and ensuring top-flight service to create the ultimate guest experience.

On the main floor, Kearns’ house-made syrups fuel The Happiest Hour’s casual ‘60s- and ‘70s-inspired bar, which are the basis of easy-drinking cocktails. Loosely evoking a mid-century soda fountain, the bar evokes the innocence and escapism of the day. Downstairs, he presides over a world-class cocktail lounge channeling the post-war (or Eisenhower/ Kennedy/ atomic) era with classic libations.

Most recently, Kearns headed up the beverage program at PLAY at The Museum of Sex, where he created drinks to stimulate the mind and the senses, and previously worked alongside Leo Robitschek at The NoMad Hotel. Over the course of his career, he has tended bar at top artisanal libations palaces like Pegu Club, where he was trained by Audrey Saunders and mastered high-volume bartending. He also helped open iconic bars, including the Standard Grill at The Standard Hotel, where he met Jon Neidich, his future partner at The Happiest Hour, as well as Double Seven, at which Sasha Petraske sparked his passion for executing classic cocktails in a precise and consistent manner. Kearns also tended bar briefly at Death & Co. when it debuted and collaborated closely with Lynnette Marrero at Rye House.

In addition, Kearns assisted in the launch of Mayahuel with Phil Ward, where he developed a deep knowledge of all things agave in the year and a half he worked there. His other stints at top cocktail establishments include Freemans on the Lower East Side, Dumont in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and Prime Meats in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

Kearns first joined the hospitality industry in 1993 in his native Arizona, where he cooked, waited and bussed tables, expedited orders and ran food while pursuing a freelance photography career. He moved to New York in 2002 and soon got his first bar job at Balthazar.

Kearns graduated with honors from New York’s Pratt Institute in 2004, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography with a Minor in Art History. Kearns views all creative disciplines, whether mixology, cooking or photography, as being essentially the same despite different end products, as long as there is a sincere effort to produce a refined result. Kearns now lives in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, with his girlfriend. His go-to beer is Miller High Life and he has never found a better cocktail than the Manhattan.