Aaron Pearse could easily be the most Instagrammed bar manager in Liverpool.
But the GM of Aloha, Liverpool’s only tiki bar, admits he’s more of an accidental photobomber than the subject of hundreds of photos and videos.
“It’s actually never me they want, it’s our classic tiki Zombie cocktails that are the big attraction, I’m just the one making them,” says Aaron. “I must be on at least 500 people’s Instagram accounts when they’re filming the Zombies going on fire along the bar.”
As new GM of Hawaiian-inspired Aloha, Aaron’s used to customers loving their theatrical cocktails and the tropical party atmosphere that sets it apart in the city centre.
In fact he was a fan himself long before he took up the job on the other side of the bar.
“I think I first went to Aloha about seven years ago, not that long after it opened, so I was a customer myself when I was a student,” he says. “Although I was at uni in Preston, I’d always come when I was home and when I started going out it was the only place me and my mates would go for a cocktail. We all wanted the pina in the pineapple!”
Now 25, Liverpool-born Aaron is loving the opportunity to manage the venue where he spent so many student nights out and working back in his home city for the first time.
He started his career in hospitality as a KP in a pub in Scarisbrick near Southport when he was just 14. When the head chef and sous chef both left, he was given an opportunity to gain new experience in the kitchen.
“The owner was a French-trained chef and he said to me ‘why don’t we open the kitchen at weekends and me and you will do it between us?’ so he trained me and we ran the kitchen, when I was about 16.
“I carried on doing pub work while I was at uni for four years, so I learned all about front of house and dealing with suppliers. When I graduated, even though my degree is in international journalism, I ended up back in hospitality because I just enjoyed it so much.
“I went to Manchester to be head bartender on the opening team for The Brotherhood, I was there for nine months then I moved back to Liverpool. The opportunity came up at Aloha and I knew I had to go for it.
“The whole tiki bar vibe makes it such a lively fun place, for guests and for the staff, and it’s an absolute institution in Liverpool.”
Working with owners, Gracious Development Group, Aaron is now busy creating a new cocktail menu with the head bartender and coming up with new ideas for events, promotions and takeovers.
“But I don’t want to make any big changes because people love Aloha the way it is. We’re the only bar in Liverpool that offers what we do and a lot of people come back because it’s so much fun, we see so many regulars.
“The interaction makes this place special. When guests come in and see us all in our Hawaiian shirts, really getting into the music and getting the huge cocktail shaker flying through the air it creates an atmosphere like nowhere else.”