Erin Summers chats to fellow resident Asude Tarlaci about fun with spirits and her journey from Turkey to the Barbican Estate

After a successful article in the last edition of Barbican Life, I’ve decided to make “interview a local” a bit of a regular thing. I am sure you are all aware that the area is home to some very interesting people and I’d love to get to know more of you!

This time I sat down with Asude Tarlaci who I first got chatting through the wonders of social media, and as we both work in alcohol, I knew we’d have a lot to talk about.

Asude Tarlaci

Over a glass of wine (me, the sommelier) and a gin and tonic (for Asude, the spirit expert) I got to delve into the life of an incredibly talented and hardworking woman. It was so inspiring to see that she has taken the past year in her stride and showed great willingness to adapt in a very challenging climate.

Originally from Turkey, she moved to London via Brighton permanently in 2019, but it seems the Barbican is going to be home for Asude for a long time in the future. She describes herself as a Spirit Experience Creator, organising cocktail masterclasses, spirit and wine tastings, as well as food and drinking pairings. But that’s not all, she’s also a Marketing and Communication Consultative Coach, specialising in food and beverage, hospitality, entertainment and the luxury car industry.

Erin: It’s great to finally meet you face to face, and it’s also so nice to be able to sit in a bar and socialise! First off, tell me a little bit about yourself career wise and where it all began.

Asude: My journey started in Turkey, where I had a Belgian waffle brand, working with Belgian chefs and providing them to clients. In one of my events, I matched waffles with drinks, so we had an American whiskey with a chocolate and hazelnut spread one, a gin with a salmon one. I planned to open a café but that didn’t go to through, so I created a brand agency. I now focus of consultancy and marketing, but I would like to get into mentoring regarding spirits and drinks. I have WSET Level 1 in spirits but hope to do level 2 and above.

Erin: You seem to really enjoy the whole world of alcohol, and I think most of us in this area of work seem to arrive in a bit of an unusual way. How was it for you?

Asude: It is a bit of a strange story, as before this I didn’t even liked wine. I started working with my first client who was providing bar and commercial kitchen solutions and I suggested that he should start posting cocktails on his social media. My background is actually in medicinal and aromatical plant technology and also business administration. And what got me really interested in both, was when I saw that the same process was going on. Creating brands and cocktails have a really similar process. 

It’s the same art, influence and transformation, how mixologists work to create spirits and cocktails. An example is gin, which is clear but it’s full of botanicals and interesting flavours and there’s someone in the process of making it, which makes it taste the way it does. Cocktails are also created based on stories, balancing ingredients, choosing glassware, adding garnishes and of course the overall look of the drink. You start your journey with the first sip, and that carries on until your last, with the taste lingering on your palate. Creating brands and cocktails are both art forms, but they also influence people, which is why they are both of my passions.

Moving forward, I then started offering cocktail masterclasses in Turkey, and I just loved getting people together, having a good time and them leaving happy but also networking with each other. I then came to London to launch it here, but Covid has made such a big impact on my business.

Asude recommends Hotel Chocolat’s Pistachio and Honey chocolate with gin!

Erin: It’s had a huge impact on us all, and many small businesses like yours have been very badly affected. Looking to the future what do you hope to get out all this, in five to ten years where do you want to be? What’s the end goal?

Asude: Actually, based on my experiences I don’t want to make long term plans, because it never works out the same way you want it to or think it will. The next five years I aim to make my brand global and work with large international brands in assisting them and of course continue my education in spirits.

Erin: That’s a great mentality to have, especially in today’s climate, as we really don’t know what’s round the corner anymore. Your aim seems to be successful and to do whatever is necessary to get where you want to be. It’s good to be so open to anything and willing to change which direction you’re going in. I’m so interested to come to one of your events, so we will have to organise something soon. Tell me what to expect, or how a previous event was like.

Asude: I’ll tell you about my Turkish Raki and gastronomic experience which I recently organised. I think lots of people here don’t like the drink, but it’s because it’s not being enjoyed properly. First of all, it should be sipped and it should always be had with food. In terms of the atmosphere, it’s best with music, perhaps with people dancing, no one on their phones and just having a great time. And another thing, if you start with it you should continue with you, you can’t start off with beer and wine and finish with Raki and I think that’s why people have bad experiences with it! 

Turkish Raki and Meze Pairing Evening

For my event I paired traditional food with different styles of Raki. We had the one produced from fresh grapes aged in stainless steel with lighter dishes, then one aged in oak with a chicken. There was also traditional Turkish music, everyone was chatting together, it was such a great evening.

Erin: That sounds like so much fun! I think many of the local residents would be interested in an event like that. Perhaps you can organise another public event and can teach us more about Raki. Now let’s talk about the Barbican itself and what it is like to live here. When did you move to the area and what drew you to this quite controversial estate?

Asude: Actually, my friend’s mother has a flat here and he suggested I rent it. He explained what the local area was like and how it was to live here. I was really attracted by having everything all around me, all the cocktail bars are here and if I have an event and come back late this is easy to get too. But really, I just love it, it’s great here.

But Lockdown happened and I just didn’t understand. I was told all these things and how busy and buzzing the area was, and suddenly the place was empty. No tourists, empty bars and it was a ghost town.

Recently I have been feeling this atmosphere he spoke about is returning, and it feels normality is coming back now. I love it here and moving to the Barbican was one of the best decisions I have made, and it really has changed my life. You are living in the midst of art, music, entertainment, it’s also a good place to be in terms of my business. It reminds me a bit of Istanbul which is probably why I like it. And of course, I love the architecture. I didn’t know anything about Brutalism before, and I have enjoyed learning more about it.

I also love spending time in the Barbican Centre and it’s a great place to socialise. Then there’s the gardens, the lakes, the local pubs and having all the attractions on our doorstep. It’s a lifestyle, and I can finally see the soul of the Barbican is coming back!

Erin: It’s been so lovely chatting with you and finding more about your business and events but also your story. Any last words to finish off with?

Asude: Thank you, it’s been lovely to chat with you too. I am just very much looking forward to the next chapter of my life and discovering more about the Barbican and the people who live here. I can’t wait to meet more of my neighbours, new people and to create new friendships.

Instagram: @brandcrea @asudebc