Bartender. Motorcycle rider. If you judged Julian Goglia based on those two distinctions alone, you’d think he was some badass from Sons of Anarchy. But he’s badass in another sense. Far from criminal. Far from anarchist.

As a partner at Pinewood Tippling Room in Decatur, Georgia, Goglia has built one of the city’s favorite bars and restaurants that has earned a reputation for a chill ambiance with perfect cocktails. Goglia does everything but cook at the bar, which has been open for just three years but has already become a media darling. The small staff approaches every dish and drink with a meticulous disposition to make sure that every bite and sip is better than the last. Which isn’t surprising because Goglia comes from a science background where one small misstep makes the difference between something going in a treasure chest or a trash bin.

In addition to being ranked No. 15 on The Daily Meal’s “America’s 25 Best Bartenders” list, Goglia has gone up and down the East Coast on his motorcycle visiting different bars, and, in the process, has found inspiration to open up one his own in his hometown. Though his clean shave may not show it, Goglia—who is also a motorcycle crash survivor—has pretty tough skin.

Interview by Maurice Garland (@Maurice_Garland)
Photography by Zach Wolfe (@ZachWolfePhoto)

How do you start your morning? Wait, do bartenders even know what mornings look like?
Well, I’m officially partner/beverage director at Pinewood Tippling Room, so my job starts pretty early. I come in at 11 a.m. and stay until 2 a.m. in the morning. That’s a day of me managing the bar and staff, physically bartending, and taking orders. There are only three of us that do this here.

Describe your morning routine before you make it in to work.
I get up the same time every day, around 10 a.m., which sounds late to some people, but it’s because I stay up so late. I steam my clothes, and my girl makes fun of me for that because I do it more than she does. I hop on the bike and come to work. It’s crazy the amount of time it takes to get ready to ride a motorcycle, by the way.

Photo by Zach Wolfe

You sport a clean-shaven look. Is there any particular reason for that?
I’m a bit of a tyrant with hygiene and those types of things. Personally, I am clean-shaven all of the time. I grew the most hideous moustache that the world has ever seen last year in November and I think it’s best for me, and everyone around me, to keep a clean shave. It was horrible. I have to shave everyday—I’m an Italian guy, so if I don’t, it gets out of control.

Is having a clean shave important for your line of work too?
Absolutely. There is a certain point where everybody has to have an intense form of professionalism with themselves. If you don’t take yourself seriously when you wake up, no one is going to take you seriously throughout your day. Many bartenders and servers may be going through a transitional period in their life, but this is what they do. The idea of taking care of yourself everyday—people respect you for that. If you come in with a three-day shadow, that’s not something people can believe in. If you can’t take time to serve yourself, how can you serve someone else? That’s like a dentist with horrible teeth.

Photo by Zach Wolfe

Your bar is in Downtown Decatur. Are you from around there originally?
Yes, my dad is from up north, and my mom is from Lithonia, Georgia. She is the goofiest Southern woman you will ever meet. She’s got hair higher than God. My sister sounds like her, and I sound like my dad, but we all grew up in the same house. We grew up in Conyers, which is 15 minutes away from here.

What is your favorite thing about living in Atlanta?
Atlanta is cool; you can get to the mountains in a few minutes, and we have rivers and all these awesome things. I’ve gone to a lot of places, and when I spend time in bigger cities I always have to put my bike up somewhere because you always have to worry about somebody stealing your stuff. You don’t have to worry about that as much in Atlanta. Here, I have a loft with a yard and I stay not too far from the capitol—you can’t do that anywhere else. Atlanta is my home.

Photo by Zach Wolfe

To date, you’ve earned a lot of distinctions in your time as a bartender. What would you say is the key to your success?
It’s one of those things where you are only as good as your weakest link. I always joke that my goal is to be the worst bartender here. All of the things that I learned in the past motivated the other people that worked for me to improve themselves. Team building is one of the toughest things to do, but it’s huge. Team building is the key to my success as an individual.

What has kept you sharp?
Some crazy things have happened in my life, but the thing that got me through it all was having social experiences. So here, we try to curate the best social experience possible. That’s why we are where we are today. Somebody did that for me, so I took all of my experiences form the past, threw it in a blender, and gave it our own little mix.

Photo by Zach Wolfe