Head Bartender, VIRTÙ
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2020
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi
- The Real McCoy Rum, USA; Featherweight, New York City, USA; Lantern’s Keep, Iroquois Hotel, New York City, USA; Booker and Dax, Momofuku Ssäm Bar, New York City, USA; Experimental Cocktail Club, New York City, USA; 15 Romolo, San Francisco, USA
- Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
- Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies/Japanese, University of Utah, USA
- English, Japanese
As Head Bartender at VIRTÙ, Joshua Perez blends uncompromising attention to detail with an effortless versatility cultivated behind a dizzying array of bars around the globe – from discos in New Zealand, whisky hideaways in Japan and rooftop lanais in Hawaii, to high-volume cocktail bars in San Francisco and speakeasies in Manhattan. “When I get interested in something, my curiosity is sparked. I have to learn everything I can about it,” says Joshua, revealing a longstanding obsession with Japanese whisky and vinyl records. This unwavering drive has also defined his bartending journey, fueling a thirst for new knowledge and an eagerness to absorb techniques from every facet of the bar – as bartender, manager, consultant, program designer and, most recently, brand ambassador.
Joshua’s foray into the world of spirits came in the form of a nightclub gig while he was at university. A string of stints followed graduation, taking him to New Zealand, San Francisco and ultimately New York City in 2012. Since then, Joshua has been at the cutting edge of the cocktail scene, honing his craft under the tutelage of legends. While at Booker and Dax at Momofuku Ssäm, he worked directly with food scientist Dave Arnold, author of Liquid Intelligence, as he applied inventive techniques that would go on to become the new industry standard: clarifying juices using a centrifuge, freezing herbs with liquid nitrogen, and force carbonating entire cocktails.
Next came five rewarding years at the famed Milk & Honey family of bars, including Featherweight, Lantern’s Keep and Middle Branch, the newest Sasha Petraske bar at the time. A trailblazer who led the speakeasy revival in NYC, Petraske’s meticulousness was a revelation for Joshua: “he fundamentally changed the way I bartend”. It was also here that he mastered the finer points of elevating the guest experience. “As bartenders, we’re the ones making the drinks and setting the vibe – but it’s our guests who should be centre stage,” he explains, drawing a distinction between craftsmanship and showmanship. Along the way, he also curated cocktail lists and trained bar staff at luxury hotels like Four Seasons Hawaii, Mandarin Oriental Taipei and Kempinski Hotel Dubai. Most recently, he served as US Brand Ambassador (East) for The Real McCoy Rum, handling markets like NYC, Boston and Washington DC.
Now at Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi, Joshua and his team deliver a richly immersive experience, woven with French and local flavours – from a storied menu designed around the Japan-inspired ‘virtues of VIRTÙ’, to a Spirit Chamber that initiates patrons into the secrets of ageing and blending. Joshua employs kodawari while building cocktails, bringing precision and mindfulness to every step of the process. Key to the exemplary service is a sliding scale that ranges from durable to fragile. “A martini, for example, is at its peak the moment it’s poured,” he elaborates, noting that even one extra minute on the tray makes a difference given the drink’s sensitivity.
Breaking the standard mould of Tokyo hotel bars, VIRTÙ offers “a truly international drinking experience”. Drawing inspiration from the core Paris-meets-Tokyo concept, Joshua curates a programming calendar that is sophisticated yet approachable: think daily drinking rituals, pop-ups by globally celebrated bars, and masterclasses with the local bartending community. Guests can also expect ongoing innovations, such as homemade bitters and Rhum Arrangè, a maceration of seasonal fruits and sugarcane rum.
For Joshua, the move to Tokyo has been a homecoming of sorts. He lived in Japan for a year and a half while attending university. The cultural connection became stronger still when he spent three consecutive winters in Hokkaido, consulting at a high-end whisky bar and exploring the famed ski slopes. “I’ve wanted to live in Japan for years, but it needed the perfect job to finally make it happen,” he smiles. When he’s not behind the bar or at the nearest ski lodge, you’re likely to find Joshua browsing obscure record stores in search of the next addition to his vinyl collection.