The lowdown on Justyn
Justyn’s first real bartending gig was in a busy student bar in Nottingham. “Without decent ale in the student lifestyle, I turned to spirits and through a thirst for knowledge (as well as Aqua Vitae) I naturally took to spirituous drink making,” he says.
The Severn Shed in Bristol came next but it was Justyn’s move to Hausbar which solidified his cocktail making skills. “Here, under the watchful eye of Aurelius Braunbarth and alongside esteemed colleagues, Harry Glockler, Alistair ‘Teddy Boy’ Reynolds and Mademoiselle Annie Mason, I have managed to grow with friends around”. As well as a host of local competition successes, he cites recently being nominated the second best Bartender by Class as an absolute honour which has helped him to establish The Drinks Cabinet, a bartender-led drinks school in Bristol where he gives open house lectures and hosts competitions. He goes through to the World Class UK with his tequila creation, Love Lies Bleeding.
What led you to become a bartender?
I started bartending seriously after a stint at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I was influenced by the sheer delight of working alongside great people in a fun, stimulating party city, surrounded by customers, (I now call them guests), who wanted to have a good time or at the very least, improve their mood. During university I quickly learned that behind the bar was where I preferred to be, subsequently, after finishing my degree I decided to pursue bartending professionally.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Meeting customers from all walks of life; my fellow bartenders; the community; mixing drinks and drinking those made for me.
Who do you admire in the industry and why?
My fellow bartenders, old and new; friends and soon to be friends, we all seem to have a thirst for knowledge, good service and pleasing people that makes me admire them all.
If you could mix a drink for anyone alive or dead who would it be and why?
Wow, er, short of Moses, Charles H Baker Jnr. He certainly drinks well and I love blenders too….
What’s your favourite classic cocktail and why?
Depends on the time of day, right now being 6pm, I think I will head to Whitelock and Grace and have a Rammazotti Sour – it’s a delectable aperitif…
What’s the most unusual request you’ve had at the bar?
The unusual ones unfortunately cannot be mentioned, there may be ladies reading this…
What’s your proudest moment as a bartender?
When his lady companion was powdering her nose, a young gentleman took me aside and commented on how impressed he was that I served her first even when topping up water. To me that’s very standard service, but to be noticed and thanked, by a 21-year old youngling made my week. I guess he didn’t get that level of service everywhere, which is a shame…
Describe the inspiration for the drink/s that got you through to the finals.
The sherry in Spain after a holiday in Seville, the beautiful liquid that is Don Julio, and the smell of pink grapefruits when I come back from work in the morning. And of course love…
Do you have any funny/embarrassing anecdotes in the rounds leading up to World Class UK finals?
Not really, unsurprisingly it was taken very seriously.
Have you picked up any good tips from the competition?
From watching the previous rounds yes: base spirit is key, but then I always knew that, much better to be 8:2:1 than that weedy 5:2:1. Technical ability was highly sought after – Andy Pearson has a hawks eye…
What does winning your regional heat of World Class mean to you?
It was massive, to be up against such fine bartenders and come out on top was amazing, a true honour. I wish they could join me in Mexico.
What would winning the finals of World Class UK mean to you?
It would be the highlight of my year, a chance to represent the country on the world stage, that would be super mega.
Who would you thank in your World Class acceptance speech and why?
All the bartenders I have ever worked with, Dave Hemingway who started me off, Auri who teaches me still, and all those especially in the Bristol scene who have helped me through some really tough times – too many to list here but I love you all. And Gin.
If you were a cocktail, what would you be and why?
‘The Dandy cocktail’ Ask Nidal why…
The drink that got him through
Love Lies Bleeding
The inspiration for this drink came from a holiday to Seville. The region is very famous for the Moscatel bodagas. and I though it only fitting I should sup this fine sherry. On tasting it I was astounded by the rich, sweet raisin dominated palate. As Jose Tradicional was the first tequila on my speed rail at Severn Shed Bristol two years ago I am incredibly familiar with this fantastic spirit, the profile matches the Lastau perfectly. I recently bought several pink grapefruit, the smell coming from the fruit bowl was fantastic, so I had to include this citrus. However, on testing the drink I found yellow grapefruits taste much more appealing. I thought the bitterness with pink would win but the good old yellow marsh grapefruit was tops. A small dash of a recently acquired Peruvian bitters rounds the drink off beautifully.
60ml Jose Cuervo Tradicional
20ml Lastau Moscatel Emilin
10ml Yellow grapefruit syrup
6 drops Amargo chuncho bitters
Add all ingredients to an old-fashioned glass with ice and twist and stir to chill and dilute. Garnish with grapefruit zest twist.