Raising the Bar: Jacques Bezuidenhout

Jacques Bezuidenhout is perhaps the one bartender on earth who can mix tequila with smoky Scotch, Guinness or a sweet Riesling wine and not only make it sound sensible, but convince you that these fanciful concoctions are the things to drink. Of course, each cocktail is better than the next.

Bezuidenhout’s affinity for the agave-based spirit is even more impressive given that he only started drinking it when he moved to the United States in 1998. Bezuidenhout grew up in South Africa. While “it’s a big tequila drinking country,” he says, it’s “bad tequila.” After some early experiences, he even swore off drinking it for several years until he got his first taste of the good stuff at a Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles. “This is pretty damn good,” he remembers thinking to himself.

Bezuidenhout moved to San Francisco to work at the Irish Bank pub, and when he wasn’t bartending, he was spending a lot of time at Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant learning about tequila from its owner Julio Bermejo. “I went from one extreme to the other,” he admits. He even traveled down to Mexico with Bermejo to visit some distilleries. In 2005, he helped open the San Francisco tequila bar Tres Agaves, and then left to become brand ambassador for Partida Tequila. He also now trains Kimpton Hotels’ bartenders around the country, including at its Sable Kitchen & Bar in Chicago and the Fifth Floor in San Francisco.

While tequila is clearly still his passion, Bezuidenhout doesn’t want to be defined by it. “Once you get put in a box, you never get out of it,” he says. “I love all of the other spirits.”

Dr. T.

Contributed by: Jacques Bezuidenhout

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 oz Partida Blanco Tequila
  • 1.5 oz Riesling wine
  • .5 oz Fresh lemon juice
  • .5 oz Simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water)
  • 1 Egg white
  • 2 tsp Laphroaig 10-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Glass: Cocktail
PREPARATION:

Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Tequila Cup

Contributed by: Jacques Bezuidenhout

INGREDIENTS:

Garnish: Mint sprig, cucumber wheels, strawberry slices, orange slices and lime slices
Glass: Highball

PREPARATION:

Add the tequila, Pimm’s and lime juice to a highball glass and fill with ice. Top with ginger beer, stir and garnish with a mint sprig, cucumber wheels, sliced strawberries, orange slices and lime slices.

(Photo courtesy of Hardy Wilson)

Recipes: Dr. T Tequila Cup

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