My name is Jackson Dubois and I would like to welcome you to my bar, where I serve the best memories of my world tour. By the way, Jackson is not my real name. My buddy from the local hotdog stand in the Big Apple called me Jackson, because he could not pronounce Jean-Pierre. For various reasons, I kept the name.
My last name is real. Dubois is French for ‘from the forest’, but in my case it was a vineyard. As the son of a vintner I grew up in a small village near Reims, the heart of the Champagne region. According to my father, I had champagne flowing through my veins. As a little boy, I developed a great interest in the wine, by helping father with his secret method champenoise, turning bottles and tasting the end product.
When I was fourteen, my father let me produce my first batch. He had confidence in my knowledge, but he trusted my taste buds and nose even more. After four years of optimizing my recipe and production method, I wanted more. I wanted to taste the best wines in the world, learn from farmers, get to know cultures and let them taste mine.
So I went. City for city. Country by country. Culture for culture.
Where should I begin? To be honest; I have seen so much that I can hardly remember all of them. In Kuala Lumpur, a monk once told me that people travel time with a speed of sixty seconds per minute. Now I am finally beginning to realize what he meant by this.
I have been everywhere. My first flight took me to the United States of America, where I visited more than twenty states. My belief is that you can only understand a culture by tasting it and that is exactly what I did in the United States. Burgers, Tex-Mex, pizzas … The hot dogs of William’s stall, on the corner of 5th Ave and W57 in New York, are the best.
America has some of the finest wine farms in the world, such as in the Sierra Nevada. But when you have a limited budget, you sometimes have to accept the alternatives. That’s how I met my second love: beer. I have tasted hundreds of concoctions (maybe even thousands), ranging from concoctions from the local medicine men to brands of international name and fame.
After leaving the United States I visited Mexico, where the brothers of my friend Pablo let me taste the best tortillas ever. I took a look in Cuba, Peru and Colombia. And after a wild period – 365 days of Carnival – in Brazil I needed something … Well … less extravagant.
Next stop: the coast of Suriname. On the beach of Paramaribo, I got talking to Aristo and his family. She told me about roti, Parbo beer and their exotic ginger wines. After obtaining an extensive test, I got a job at a wine farm in Clevia, which became the first foreign customer of my father.
I often flew back to France during my years in Suriname. I picked up champagne again, but this time I shipped it to Suriname. Things went in the right direction, just like my income. During holidays I visited the rest of South America, from the coast of Chile to Montevideo in Uruguay. I even gave Maradona a bottle of gift when I met him in the streets of Cordoba.
During the last days of that vacation, I met Charlize. She had roots in South Africa and was intrigued by my knowledge of wines. We talked for hours and hours, especially about her youth and wine; her uncle was a vintner in South Africa, the Western Cape. When she was eighteen she moved to the United States in search of a new adventure. Years after I met her, I found out that she has become a famous actress. Mission accomplished, Charlize.
In Suriname, my friend Aristo joined the company, giving me the opportunity to travel to South Africa with Charlize. She introduced me to her family in Cape Town, friendly people who took me on a so-called game drive. We defied nature in a large Jeep, surrounded by all the beauty of the animal kingdom. Traditionally, game drives end with a toast outside in the middle of nowhere; the perfect reason to open one of my own bottles of champagne. “On new friendships,” I said as a group of giraffes passed by.
What I did not know was that Charlize’s uncle Ethan was the largest wine producer on the continent. Soon we became friends and business partners. Together we visited many clients in countries such as Ivory Coast, Tanzania, the Congo and even Madagascar. I must be honest, alcohol was not legal everywhere.
Ethan knew that I did not intend to stay long, so we set up a direct trade route between Reims and Cape Town. We organized a big dinner to celebrate the permanent collaboration. That evening I immediately announced my departure, although I did not even know where I was going the next day. At the airport I realized that I had explored half of the continents on earth, but not my own. So I flew back to Europe.
I started in Amsterdam and immediately fell in love with the city; beautiful people, great food, nice culture. In a speakeasy cocktail bar I met Michel, owner of a number of restaurants in the city. He showed me the city and the culture, like the homemade ‘frikandel’ of his chef.
We met again in a fish & chips tent called Chiptease in London, awarded for its cod. We spoke with the owner – his friends called him ‘The Codfather’ – about the possibility to open such a case in Amsterdam. We were just joking, but that joke turned out to be the start of my own bar in the Netherlands.
I went south to Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, even Lebanon. I tried the Tempranillo wines from the Ribera del Duero region, ate the best pizza with truffles in Montespertoli in Florence, worked at a feta farm in Greece and learned to make falafel in the capital of Lebanon. I have to say that if there is a European culture, it is probably the most versatile in the world. Versatile and tasty.
After a week at the Oktoberfest in Munich, I went back to France. Aristo and Ethan meanwhile raised my company to the next level, which enabled my father to invest in a new piece of land. My signature under the corresponding contract was the first step in the acquisition of his company. We hired additional staff and trained them well to ensure that the company would survive if my father retired and I travel again. Immediately after completing the training of the staff, I took my father on a trip to celebrate his retirement. With a suitcase full of bottles of wine, we flew to Australia for a road trip: from city to city and from winery to winery.
Our journey ended in Perth, where I met Nina. She had just arrived in Australia after a three-month visit to Asia. She told me about the amazing curries of Thailand, Jalan Alor in Kuala Lumpur, Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the beauty of Bali … Two days later I embraced my father during our farewell at the airport; he went back to France. I could not do it. Not without first having to experience all the beauty that Nina had described herself!
Nina was right; Asia is really great. I partied until sunrise with Blackbird and 40,000 others on the beaches of Koh Pha Ngan. I drove around on a motorcycle in Vietnam, overwhelmed by the beauty and historic value of this country. After my time in China, I visited Tokyo to taste Fugu, the deadly puffer fish, alongside a number of other local delicacies. All accompanied by concoctions like Tiger, Singha and Bintang or just water to respect the local culture. Asia is in my opinion the continent of contradictions when it comes to religion, regulation and regime. But if you respect that, it is the friendliest place on earth.
I ended my trip in Bali, where I had agreed with my Dutch friend Michel. We talked for days about our travel experiences, the drinks we had tasted and the food we loved. After our conversation with “The Codfather” in London, Michel immediately started writing a plan to open a company together in Amsterdam. He told me about a lunchroom he operated in the center of the city, Caffe Esprit, only open during breakfast and lunch. After I shared my ambition to inspire people with my stories with Michel, we came up with the idea to open a bar in Amsterdam together; a place where I let people experience my travels themselves, as if they were there. A place where guests enjoy dishes from around the world. Accompanied by the same champagne or beer that I had with the dish.
Bar Jackson Dubois was born that night.
Thousands and thousands of beers and champagnes, accompanied by food as a face of local cultures; I’ve seen it all and I’ve tasted a lot. If you ask me what my favorites are, I can not give you an answer. Every dish or drink has its own story and they are all invaluable to me. You will have to experience it yourself and I see it as my mission to stimulate that.
As of October 2015, I will open the doors of my bar for you. During the day it is Caffe Esprit, a place with its own look and feel, but at 18:00 everything changes. Same place, different world. The world of Jackson Dubois.
In my world you taste drinks from all over the world. Tap beers as well as beer from the bottle and sparkling wine by the glass and by the bottle.
If you want to be pampered I recommend the dishes on the menu; all memories of journeys I made. Memories with a personal story. From the falafel from Lebanon to authentic roti from Suriname to truffle pizza from Italy. And what about William’s hot dogs, or local delicacies from Amsterdam? You can find it all on the menu.
Although it is my bar – it is even named after me – I will not be there every week. If you want to meet me, book a ticket to Russia, drive to my company in Reims or visit me in Munich (guaranteed in October). Probably I am somewhere in a different time zone.
To discover. To experience. To live.Make a reservation