Justin Wojslaw of The Diller Room talks tiki & Pusser’s
1. Tell me about yourself. What’s your background, and how did you end up as a bartender/mixologist?
I’m a husband and father of three that you’re more likely to catch out running errands with my family than doing anything else. We’re all pretty much homebodies and stick around the house together on my days off. I do find moments during my free time to think up new cocktails which is always a fun process to begin.
I’m not the biggest fan of the term “mixologist.” I prefer “bartender,” and respect the term as a legitimate profession. I began working in bars in late 2008, and my first gig behind the bar would have been in the latter part of Spring 2009.
2. What’s your favorite rum cocktail? (Scroll down for recipe!)
The Broken Dragon was a lot of fun to make! I’m a big fan of the House of the Broken Dragon people, and when I was approached about creating a custom cocktail for an upcoming event, I jumped on it.
Seeing as there is a good deal of Asian influence in the brand, I wanted to create a cocktail that might carry some of the flavors you would expect in a “Far East” inspired tropical drink. Ginger and fresh citrus I felt worked well with the high octane Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof Rum, and I feel it all came together really well. I can always tell when an experimental cocktail is going to take off. When everything comes together quickly and rather easily, it’s usually a sign I’m onto something good.
My personal connection with rum would have begun with my first experience at a tiki bar. We had a friend in Huntington Beach, CA that had just had a baby. We planned a family trip to visit her, and while down there, we visited the Don The Beachcomber location on PCH. That sparked a massive interest in me, and could pretty much be credited as the moment I wanted to learn how to make tiki drinks.
4. What do you think the future of rum is?
Rum is on a massive upswing right now which is awesome to see and be a part of. I feel that the future for rum is going to be a positive one with a higher demand from the public for quality sippers, and more knowledge available to the public on the unique regional characteristics of rum to better help people decide which rum is best for them.
5. Where do you get inspiration for your cocktails?
Ideally, I like my cocktails to have a cool name and description that attracts a customer and hopefully has the proper characteristics to go with that name that makes the experience a memorable one. Inspirations come anywhere from old surf music, to Tarantino movies, to historic sights and events.
6. Please tell me about your greatest achievement in relation to the spirits industry.
The fact that anyone in the past four years has wanted to go out of their way to interview a random guy bartending in Seattle means the world to me! Haha
7. Any other interesting facts? Hobbies? Talents?
Again, family is huge. Outside of that, I do enjoy getting tattooed and make the trip to see Emily Nelson in Bellingham, WA from time to time. Also, Jason Alexander, owner and operator of the Tacoma Cabana in Tacoma, WA is a magician behind the bar and always more then worth the trip to visit him. Aside from that, I’ll be turning 35 in January. In 2018 I am planning a trip to the Big Texan in Amarillo, TX to attempt their steak challenge. I’ll keep you guys posted on how that goes!
8. How can people learn more about you?
I don’t have a website currently but can be found on Instagram @raining_and_pouring
I’m working on signature Mai Tai glassware and Rum Barrel mugs and would highly recommend anyone interested in that kind of stuff, as well as pictures of tropical cocktails on fire, to give me a follow.
Pusser’s Rum Broken Dragon
The “Broken Dragon” cocktail was a creative evolution between U.S.-based kimono designer, House of the Broken Dragon (HOTBD), and Lifestyle Cocktail Specialist, Justin Wojslaw, in Seattle, WA.
Justin became a customer of HOTBD in 2016. In fact, Justin was the first to custom order a pair of matching “Daddy/Daughter” hooded kimono (yukata) for both himself and his 4 year old daughter, with “tiki-inspired” cotton fabric.
Reminiscent of the late 50s, tiki bars and exotic beverages are back in full swing all over America, delighting those who wish to transport themselves into a Polynesian lifestyle. In fact, did you know Hawaii has been greatly influenced by the Japanese culture? As a result of trade, Japanese immigrants arrived in Hawaii in the late 1800s as contract laborers for the sugar cane and pineapple plantations. With them they brought silk kimono fabric which they eventually made into short sleeve shirts for the workers–essentially the “birth” of the Hawaiian shirt as we know it today.
Justin’s enthusiasm for tiki culture, along with his new kimono, eventually bled into his professional craft of cocktails and voilà! HOTBD’s “Broken Dragon” was born. In 2017 HOTBD’s Signature Cocktail was created for the “home bartender” in mind, using 5 simple ingredients to create a delicious, “boozy ginger lemonade” to those who wished to partake. The next best thing to hearing about the “Broken Dragon”? Ordering it. And make sure they use Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof Rum. A taste worth trying and a history worth knowing.
Want a “Broken Dragon” recipe card of your very own? Email your address to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, don’t forget to visit www.houseofthebrokendragon.com to order your custom kimono, today!