Ten Tough Questions for Julian Bayuni

Words by Julian Bayuni/Ingmar Voerman

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Ten tough ones for..

In this Legends of the Bar series we look into some of the great names of the Dutch Cocktail scene and ask them ten of the toughest questions.

This time we ask them to Julian Bayuni (Jules), Creative director and team leader at the iconic Vesper Bar Amsterdam and Brand Ambassador for Wihayo Soju. Amongst many other projects that is, like HOOP sustainable consultancy and culinary collaborations Blood Fire and Taco Ssam.
British born and originally from London, 42 year old Jules currently lives in Amsterdam Oud-West and predominantly works in the Amsterdam area as well.

What is the nicest moment behind the bar you can remember?

"Been in the game for 20 years now, so as you can imagine, I have a huge collection of special memories behind the bar.
Going back to the beginning of my bartending career, one of my fondess memories is of my boss at the music venue I used to run in London. Probably the most energy I’ve ever witnessed in a human being. She used to regularly stage dive off the bar after having administered a round of tequila shots to the team in true rock ‘n’ roll style!
Fast forward to now and the best recent moment I’ve had behind the bar is banging out ceviche tacos as well as cocktails at Vesper’s new mezcal Monday party. Great to push myself to the limits and surprise people with something unexpected / unconventional."

What is the worst?

"Tend to erase most of the bad memories behind the bar but some do stick!
One in particular was at an extremely busy cocktail bar that I worked at ages ago in Soho, London. It was insanely busy with the bar constantly 4 deep. Water started flooding (not dripping, but pouring) through the ceiling right above our work stations as we were trying to make a ridiculous amount of mojitos and our manager was absolutely nowhere to be found. Unable to work and without any direction from our manager we all decided to stop working and walk out the bar. About 10 minutes later the manager decided to reappear (having been off escapading with a young lady) and proceeded to give us hell for leaving the bar. Not great vibes that night to say the least!
Something that happened more recently... A couple of weeks ago I had a customer frown upon my Last Word and say it hadn’t been made right because it didn’t have a cherry garnish on it like how it is served ‘properly’ in her favourite bar back home in NY. Ooh, I’m sorry! Pretentious snobbery is one of my pet peeves!"

Who are the two Guru’s you look up to the most in our industry?

"Ryan Chetiyawardana for his innovative, intelligent and mindful approach to bartending. And for being one of the most humble guys I have come across in the business.
Henry Besant (RIP) for showing us how to embrace life and connect with people in a very real way. True legend!"

Which book on bartending is a must-read?
"The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz."

What is the cocktail you have created you are most proud of and why?

"Thor’s Thorns. A stir down combining El Jolgorio Madrecuixe, foraged sea buckthorn shrub, prickly pear and nopale bitters. Served on a ‘dune’ of coconut and anise sand with pickled sea buckthorn.
This labour of love cocktail featured as one of Vesper’s monthly foraged cocktails. Discovered sea buckthorn with my Danish friends on a dune walk across Castricum, Noord Holland who oyously identified the berries immediately as they were familiar with them from back home.
Respectfully harvested some to make a shrub and spent an entire afternoon plucking the berries individually as they are super delicate but really tough to remove from the stem and surrounded by huge thorns!
The drink was presented as a dune scape scenery to capture the great memory I had walking the dunes with my good friends. See image attached (courtesy of David Costa)."

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What is the biggest challenge facing our industry in the Netherlands today?

"The biggest challenge I see in our industry is that bartenders (and perhaps more importantly, bar owners) need to start challenging themselves a bit more.
I feel that it is time for bartenders/ bar owners to start breaking out of their comfort zones and enter into the realm of discovery and free flowing creativity to create more original, surprising drinking experiences. For the scene to evolve, we need to revere traditions but nothing should be sacred! I truly believe that collaborations and connecting creatively (not just socially) can help the scene move forward."

What is your guilty pleasure drink?

"In an age of purist agave sipping my guilty pleasure drink would have to be a round of tequila shots with salt and lime wedges to boot!"

If you could teach new bartenders one thing, what would it be?

"Since I launched HOOP * I am dedicated to promoting ‘conscious consumption’ within the horeca. I hope to share the experiences I have had over the years on my quest to becoming a more mindful bartender and connecting more in a creative capacity. I hope to have the opportunity to plant these seeds of motivation and inspiration via regular workshops and seminars."

What do i have to do as a bartender to piss you off when visiting a bar?

"Giving me a plastic straw really pisses me off!"

If you want to be remembered by any quote, what would it be?

"Live without borders!"

Photography: David Costa