Interview with Juheon Lee

Bartender | Glowbal at Telus Garden| Vancouver

Juheon was born in Seoul, South Korea, after his family immigrated to Canada landing in Montreal, they relocated to Vancouver. He grew up here and he calls Vancouver his home. His entire working career has been in the hospitality industry. His background ranges from starting off in a Korean restaurant, shifting onto bartending and management at hotels, and majority of those years focusing on cocktails and mixology. Most recently he had been a bartender at the Bacchus Lounge at the Wedgewood Hotel prior to joining Glowbal at Telus Garden in 2019 in downtown Vancouver.

You can follow Juheon Lee on Instagram @jupacbt

How did you end up becoming a Bartender?

I was originally hired as a busser at Fairmont Palliser Hotel in Calgary. After about a year, a bartending position had opened up and my manager at the time; Steve White, gave me a chance. A risk for sure, me not knowing ANYTHING about bartending, but the amount of support I got from him and all the staff is how it all began!

Have you competed in any bartending competitions? 

Unfortunately I have not competed in any competitions thus far.

What are some of the unique cocktails your customers have asked you to make?

The most unique cocktail that comes mind is the affogato martini. I really enjoy espresso cocktails, even just espresso and whiskey/tequila on the rocks. One time I decided to make my own concoction of an espresso martini. A scoop of vanilla ice cream in a martini glass topped off with shaken espresso, Van Gogh espresso vodka, and a touch of tia Maria coffee Liqeuer.

What goes into creating a new cocktail? What inspires you?

Anything and Everything. I look at any ingredient and immediately my thought is how I can extract the flavour and combine it with spirits to make a cocktail that will be balanced in taste and flavour. I am a very artistic and visual person, so I use my imagination and skills to garnish cocktails that will be very pleasant to see and taste at the same time.

Can you please describe the art of smoking cocktails

For me, the art of smoking cocktails is to find the right balance from the cocktail itself and how the smoke will change the complexity of the drink. I find that cocktails that are all liquor based, such as manhattans, negronis, old fashions, or even a Sazerac, work best for smoking. The pairing of the smoke aroma and taste profile fit the liquor-heavy drinks as they come together perfectly. I find that tart, citrus dominated, or juices do not work that well flavour and aroma-wise when coming to smoking the cocktails. Also need to remember the smoke does not necessarily smoke the drink, it will rather leave the smoke stained to the glass with will give of the smoke scent and add another dimension to the cocktail.

What is your philosophy on food and drinks?

When it comes to philosophy of food and drink, I believe that it winds down to appreciation. To appreciate all ethnic backgrounds of how food all began in their own cultures and all the variations of techniques that were used and new ones that have been developed. It is such a beautiful thing that we are all the same human beings, with hundreds of different backgrounds and how food and beverage is prepared. Food and drink bring people to together for various reasons, and it should be appreciated for that fact alone.

What are some of your favourite foods/dishes?

Sticking to my own roots, I really enjoy Korean food, all types of dishes, especially my momʼs cooking of course.

Where do you get your inspiration to create your cocktails at Glowbal?

We have a great bar team at Glowbal and we are constantly challenging each other and coming up with great ideas for the cocktail smoke box cart and features as well. I also enjoy the wide range of ingredients we are able to use and integrate them into our cocktail list.

What type of drinks do you like personally?

I prefer drinks that are not on the sweet side. It ranges in variety, but I do enjoy trying new cocktails that catch my eye, or even anything with Gin.

What are the most unique ingredients you have used to create a cocktail?

Definitely dried herbs and spices. For a banquet function in the past, I roasted star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, cinnamon, and nutmeg, before turning it into a syrup. The syrup was very flavourful bringing out each spice mixed with brandy and lemon. Very refreshing, at the same time sharp and flavourful.

What is your favourite cocktail personally?

I really enjoy gin, by itself on ice or in my favourite cocktail Negroni. I will add some grapefruit bitters to the Negroni as well, and sometimes switch out the Campari for Aperol.

What is your favourite dish or dishes that you like to eat with a cocktail?

Definitely tapas and finger foods. I like to have variety and not just a single entree with cocktails. I would rather prefer wine pairings for courses or an entree.

By: Richard Wolak

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