It’s time to meet your maker, if you happen to be sipping a cocktail wherever this globetrotting mix master has created one of his liquid works of art.
My interview with Joseph Boroski took place at Bed Supperclub, where a black-and-white poster bearing a life-sized image of the man himself greeted me at the club entrance. The poster proclaimed him the ‘World’s Greatest Mixologist’, and I smiled at the thought of having a one-on-one session with someone holding such high credentials.
Inside the empty club, we found a quiet corner to conduct the interview. Joseph proceeded to whip out his laptop. I asked half seriously, ‘Are you really going to work right now?’ Only half seriously because I once had seen him multi-tasking at a dinner party, making cocktails and taking business calls at the same time. He assured me that I had his full attention. Although about 10 minutes into the interview I caught him peeking at his laptop with a look of satisfaction as several e-mails had been successfully sent right under my nose! Apparently multi-tasking is an important attribute of a world-class mixologist and here was the evidence.
It’s this kind of diligence that has led the globe-trotting Joseph to his newest position as W Hotel’s Global Director of Cocktail Culture, the first position of its kind. As part of his job he’ll be involved with W Hotel’s myriad events including openings and fashion events, creating different drinks for each gathering. One such cocktail is 'The Spark', the hotel’s new signature drink. Bangkok locals and guests of nearby W Koh Samui can try this divine potion served in a small porcelain bowl and made with vodka, raspberry, saffron, freshly squeezed orange, honey and champagne. Another responsibility of W Hotel’s Global Director of Cocktail Culture is setting up an international bartender connection, a way for bartenders to connect and communicate what’s new in their area, and for which Joseph will be creating cocktail videos for internal purposes as well as for public viewing.
Having made a name for himself as a top mixologist and bar consultant, Joseph has since undertaken work with a number of hotels, restaurants and bars all over the world. In New York, he created a cocktail menu with top celebrity chefs Todd English and Ian Kittachai for the restaurant Ember Room. In Bangkok, Joseph is putting together a cocktail menu for the highly respected restaurant EAT ME (the list will be available in early 2012). Joseph says the restaurant is interesting because it has brought in a number of international mixologists of late to train its bartenders, including Joseph himself who was behind the bar at EAT ME soon after first arriving in Bangkok. His task now is to create custom, in-house drinks that complement the restaurant’s western menu of fish, meats and vegetables. Also in Bangkok, Joseph’s most recent stint at Bed Supperclub included creating an exciting, but limited-time-only, cocktail menu that featured frozen liquid nitrogen cocktails. He describes the drinks’ texture as ‘styrofoam-y’ allowing you to chew on the ice crystals as they melt in your mouth. If we’re lucky, these fun-to-drink cocktails might become a regular item on Bed Supperclub’s menu.
And just where does Joseph get the creative juices to fuel his out-of-the-ordinary cocktail creations? In mock exasperation, he responds, ‘I don’t fuckin’ know!’ Each time he must invent a new drink, he thinks, ‘I’m never going to come up with a menu for this,’ convinced he’s out of ideas. Yet time and time again inspiration strikes and he presents us with some of the coolest cocktails we’ve ever seen or tasted.
One way that Joseph separates himself from others in the industry is by being creative with his choice of cocktail vessels. His modern take on the classic mini jam jar is one example. The jar serves as a drinking glass and the cap is screwed on tight to hold in maple wood smoke that’s infused by a smoke gun into one of Joseph’s special creations. Cocktail lovers get to inhale the smoke and taste the earthy flavour in the drink itself.
Joseph has come a long way since he first entered the alcohol industry at the age of 17 as a sales and delivery boy for a US wine company in the state of Connecticut. Although it was a small company, it attracted famous clientele such as Paul Newman, who would buy wine from Joseph’s boss directly. For reasons he prefers not to elaborate on, Joseph was fired from his job after two years and that’s when he got into spirits, which he decided had much cooler looking bottles anyway. Joseph then set out to improve the kinds of drinks widely available to customers and patrons. He started the blog Sipslowly in New York more than six years ago to document his experience at bars, writing about the venues, bartenders, drinks and featuring photos of it all. No one was doing anything similar at the time, so Joseph became known as an expert in the bar industry. Eventually the blog was transformed into his bar consulting company.
Already a jack of all trades when it comes to the bar industry, Joseph is now preparing to infuse others with his years of accumulated knowledge by opening his first ‘Bar School’ where he will be training bartenders and featuring international bartenders. It’s currently under construction in one of Bangkok’s trendiest areas for bars and nightlife, Thonglor. The school will eventually hold up to 21 students when it opens later this year. According to Joseph, there’s nothing like it in the entire world. And being as well travelled as he is, Joseph would know if such a bar school existed somewhere around the globe.
Through all his travels, Joseph has found that every place has its pros and cons, but one city that he never expected to visit and actually become fond of was Seoul, Korea. The reason he didn’t expect to like it as much as he did was because each time he entered the country it was during the country’s cold wintry months and Joseph can’t stand the cold, unless he’s snowboarding. What touched him about Korea was the fact that Koreans have a tendency to always do things in groups of at least three and often many more. Other than Korea, Joseph’s most recent overseas trip was to Paris for the W Paris-Opéra press event where he led a team of bartenders to make his specially designed cocktails for the occasion. In less than a month, Joseph will be back to the City of Love for W Paris-Opéra’s opening on Valentine's Day. Prior to Paris, Joseph brought four of the best women bartenders from Thailand to Hong Kong for the opening party of the men’s floor at Louis Vuitton Lee Gardens. The idea was to gain interest from male guests who would eventually make up the brand’s client base. However, that’s not all women bartenders are good for. Beyond the good looks and sex appeal, women bartenders have a special ability behind the bar that separates them from their male counterparts. Joseph claims that contrary to common belief, women bartenders can be just as good as male bartenders; in fact, they are not merely equal, but actually can multi-task far better than men.
Looking at his notable accomplishments in an industry that requires heavy multi-tasking, Joseph just might be an exception to the male’s inherent multi-tasking deficiency. But that’s not the only thing to which he attributes his success. He explained that it’s really a combination of the hard work he’s done and all the people he’s been fortunate enough to work with and meet, such as celebrity chefs and restaurant owners who are interested in his expertise, not only at creating cocktails but also in designing bars and training staff. He’s thankful for all the people and all the little things who have helped him attain his dream, admitting, ‘I wake up sometimes and think: this is a really good thing.’
23/01/2012 - 10:22