Joseph Boroski began his career in the beverage industry at age 17, selling wines and spirits. It wasn’t long before bartending taught him a passion for making cocktails. Joseph spent most of his adult life in New York City and it was there, behind numerous bars, that he honed his craft. He now spends much of his time at his Bar and Hospitality School in Bangkok, where he is based.
What’s the most important aspect of making or designing a good cocktail?
People often ask me for the best way to make a Martini. Or a Manhattan or a Margarita. The answer depends heavily on the person who will be drinking it. It’s the same for creating or making any cocktail. The drink will always be much better if I know who it is for. Will it be drunk while dressed to the T or while wearing a swimsuit? While sitting in an outdoor roof area overlooking a city or in a basement lounge that is dimly lit?
Do you have a favourite drink?
I think my favourite drink varies depending on where I am, what time of day it is, whether I will be enjoying it with food or on its own, and who will be making it. That said, I have a real weak spot for a well-made Negroni. I know that’s a pretty typical bartender go-to drink but you really can’t control who, and what, you love. A good Clover Club seldom fails to win my heart over as well.
You spent a long time working in New York – what persuaded you to move to Bangkok?
New York, I must say, is the best city in the world. Being such a competitive environment for probably everything imaginable has resulted in the best of the best in all industries and cocktails are certainly included in that. On the other hand, the fast pace and constant drain of Manhattan can start to dig away at your soul. After the majority of a decade constantly travelling from place to place making cocktails and training bartenders in over 30 countries, I found myself in Bangkok drinking a young coconut in the sun at the rooftop pool of a five-star hotel, in love with an angel disguised as a Thai woman and came to the realisation that I had the life.
How has bar culture and cocktail culture changed in Bangkok over the past few years?
It has improved in leaps and bounds. Drink-seekers in Bangkok have moved on from Blue Kamikazes and Red Label with soda to Gin Fizzes and Platinum Label Old- Fashioneds. People are now enjoying the process of drinking as opposed to only the result.
You have an eye for spotting trends – what do you think will be the next big thing in Bangkok?
In a word — exclusivity. Venues in Bangkok have up until now pretty much been accessible to everyone. But as the city evolves, trend-seekers are searching for places that not everyone can show up.
Where’s your favourite place to go for a drink?
J.Boroski Mixology. It’s my own tasting lab at my BAR:School. I make cocktails there myself and have been known to drink several there as well. I have been to— what? — a thousandplus bars worldwide. It has a level of comfort and intimacy that I haven’t seen anywhere else. And the drinks — well, let’s say I give it my best.
Where’s your favourite place to go for a meal?
When it comes to the best of Western food in Bangkok, I’m torn between Jess Barnes’ simple plates at Opposite Mess Hall and Tim Butler’s luxurious meals at Eat Me. When I’m in the mood for Thai food, which is most of the time, I really enjoy Ian Kittichai’s over-the-top flavours at Issaya Siamese Club and especially love the unique dishes of Nhoi Ouypornchaisakul and Baimohn Tanataveetram at Rock. And finally, for a home-cooked Italian fix, the food of Paolo Vitaletti and the American hospitality of Jarrett Wrisley at Appia.
Where do you take visitors for a real Bangkok experience?
I escape to Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park, just over the river but worlds away, where I can spend the entire day among its old-growth forest and the neighbouring tree- lined streets.