Hailing from Poland, hospitality was not the career path Justyna originally planned for when she first moved to London. Here, she shares why she fell in love with bar operations and mixology – and how that led her to Bellanger as our new Bar Manager.
Tell us a little about yourself – how did you get into hospitality?
I’m originally from Poland and interestingly my education has nothing to do with hospitality. I have a Master’s degree in history.
When I moved to London in 2005, hospitality was only a means to earn money, but I quickly fell in love with the bar operation. In the following years I started to expand my horizons and completed several courses (e.g. WSET) to deepen my knowledge.
After that I started to rise through the positions, working in 5* hotels such as Soho Hotel and Café Royal. My first experience with Corbin & King came with The Beaumount Hotel in Mayfair, where I led the bar operation from 2017-2021.
If you had to choose one drink from the Bellanger bar menu what would it be and why?
The classic Sidecar, which has just had its 100th birthday. It’s such a simple drink with just 3 ingredients, but one that offers a truly complex and refreshing taste. Plus, it’s great to enjoy at any time of the day.
Talk us through your approach to menu design – what do you think makes a good cocktail menu?
Knowing your customers and their preferences is an important first step.
The ingredients, spirits and garnish all need to be balanced and fit the concept and the story of the place. I also follow the latest trends and try to use seasonal and local products wherever possible, therefore keeping the environmental impact low.
What’s your favourite thing about working at Bellanger?
It’s got a great neighbourhood vibe, and coming from a hotel background it’s refreshing to experience this.
It also offers more opportunities to get to know your guests better, which I feel makes for a better experience for everyone.
When you’re not at Bellanger where can we find you?
I always seek opportunities to learn new skills in my free time, from attending masterclasses to spirits judging and industry shows. For example, next month I will be at London’s Cognac Show and I recently signed up for a cigar course too.
Also I love to discover London at every opportunity, especially on my bicycle. It gives me a chance to see the city from a very different perspective.
And finally, what do you think is the best thing about working for Corbin & King?
I love the family-like atmosphere. The owners and directors are very approachable. They never treat you as an employee, but more as a colleague giving you advice and support whenever you need it.
To find out more about opportunities with the Corbin & King group – including at Bellanger – take a look at our current vacancies here: www.corbinandking.com/recruitment