Behind the bar at Ben Fiddich, Hiroyasu Kayama wears a crisp, white jacket and a scarlet tie. As he mixes a drink, nothing looks out of place about the award-winning bartender — except the deep tan on his face.
Just two days after Ben Fiddich was named the best bar in Japan at last month’s Asia’s 50 Best Bars awards in Bangkok, Kayama hopped on a flight to Nairobi, Kenya. Officially, he was there for a 10-day guest stint at Hero, the eastern African capital’s acclaimed watering hole. Kamaya’s main objective, however, was to head out into the wild and forage for berries from Juniperus procera (East African juniper) trees.
“I’ve always loved studying on my travels,” Kayama says, as he stirs my drink: Procera gin made with African botanicals and a mixture of mint muddled with chamomile harvested from his farm outside of Tokyo. “This time, I discovered so many strange and interesting African spirits.”