10 minutes with: Hiroyasu Kayama

The master bartender at Bar BenFiddich, Tokyo, who was in KL recently, talks about his passion for mixology.

Hiroyasu Kayama at Three X Co (Photo: Three X Co)

What brought you to Kuala Lumpur?
I came to do a masterclass at Three X Co for bartenders, cockatail enthusiasts and people in the liquor industry. I also did a guest shift, serving some of my own creations like the Fennel Crystal and Green Negroni.

How did you find the Three X Co event during your first visit to Kuala Lumpur?
It was a big experience. There was an overwhelming turnout! And they just won the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards 2018’s top 10 new cocktail bars in Asia-Pacific. It was an honour to be invited.

What do you think of Malaysian tastes and drinking habits?
I am impressed with the Malaysian classic cocktail Jungle Bird. I am interested in the various ingredients and food culture in Southeast Asia and how they are included in cocktail recipes — such as [mixing] traditional cough syrup Pei Pa Koa and infusions using wintermelon and gula Melaka in cocktails.

Will you be back soon?
Yes. I like Malaysia’s people and I definitely will return.

What got you interested in mixology?
I like to make cocktails. I started working in a hotel restaurant at the age of 18. At 20, I was transferred to the bar and that started my love for cocktails. I love working with natural ingredients — plants, herbs, fruit, spices — maybe because my parents are farmers and from a young age, I was surrounded by nature.

What is your favourite spirit?

What flavours do you like working with most for your cocktails?
I love to experiment with fresh and sometimes exotic ingredients. For example, I grow my own wormwood and Japanese pepper at my family farm. Now, we are harvesting our own honey. I get inspiration from nature and what is available. I recently brought back mangosteen, pandan leaves, gula Melaka and nutmeg from Malaysia. I am excited to experiment with them.

When you are not working, what do you like to drink?
A highball.


This interview appeared on Aug 6, 2018 in The Edge Malaysia.


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