Jacques Bezuidenhout started his spirits journey twenty years ago in South Africa. He worked at various bars and restaurants and realized then what his livelihood would be. It wasn’t until he moved to London, where bartending is considered a profession instead of just a job, that his dream finally came true though.
He moved to the states in 1998, receiving his first American bartending gig at the Irish Bank Bar and Restaurant in San Francisco. While he worked at Irish Bank, Bezuidenhout hand selected the bar’s spirits and created the largest Scotch Whiskey Selection in the Bay area.
Since then, he has served as an opening consultant for countless bars and restaurants and was brand ambassador for Plymouth Gin. On top of all of this, Bezuidenhout has completed work at Tres Agaves, one of the best bar programs in the US. He also created the San Francisco chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild, judges many spirits and cocktail competitions, was voted the best bartender in San Francisco by Anthony Dias Blue, his cocktails have been written about in The San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, 7×7 Magazine, Wine Enthusiast, Sante and Cheers, and have been shown on Fine Living Network, Food Network and MarthaStewart.com.
I had a chance to ask Bezuidenhout about his job, his love for spirits and his advice for young bartenders.
Tell me a little bit about your role at Partida.
I am the National Bartender Ambassador for Partida which means I have the Chief Tequila drinking position for Partida. Along the way I also educate on Partida and the Tequila category. With education we feel the whole Tequila category will grow.
How does one become a “bartender ambassador?”
Great question and I am not sure there is a specific answer. You have to be out many nights and some very late but still be up early to take care of regular business. Be sociable and friendly amongst small and large groups and have the knowledge to really talk passionately about your Brand as well as the brand category. Get used to a lot of travel and living out of a suit case.
You’ve studied distilleries all around the world. Where is it being done the best right now?
I think right now the best Distillers are the Scots making Whiskies. The quality of Single Malts and Blends across the category when it comes to Distillation and aging of spirits is incredible.
I think Tequila is the most fun. It can be consumed Neat or in many different cocktails. Any class or style of people are drinking Tequila so it is not cornered into a specific style like overly fancy or anything like that. You can drink it at any occasion and usually it leads to some very fun and crazy stories.
What is your bartending style and do you have a specialty drink?
I think I am a very friendly sociable bartender and I love the proper Technique when it comes to either stirring or shaking. I want to make the guest feel comfortable and make them a great drink quickly. It’s always important to take great care of the guest and ensure they have a brilliant time. My favorite drink that I made so far has been the La Perla. with Partida reposado, Manzanilla Sherry and Pear Liqueur.
Do you have any advice for young bartenders?
Strive to become the best at your craft. You don’t always need to create the Next New Cocktail. Pay attention to the classics. They are still around for that very reason because they are great. Remember that we can all make great drinks and have extensive knowledge but at the end of the day if we don’t make sure the guest has had a great time then they won’t return.
Editor for Chilled Magazine