This week we’re sitting down with Clay Robinson – the co-founder of Sun King Brewing in downtown Indianapolis. After satisfying a bit of wanderlust, working with corporately-owned breweries, and writing numerous business plans, Clay opened a small brewery in the heart of the city in 2009 that has now become a community leader, a pioneer in canned craft beer, and the first major production craft brewery in Indianapolis in decades. They kicked off a boom that lead to Indianapolis becoming one of the best craft beer cities in the country. Grab a pint and enjoy!
After spending decades in software and marketing, Greg Wilson partnered up with bartender Zach Wilks in 2012 to launch Wilks & Wilson. In six short years, the guys have grown from making syrups for a few bars in Indianapolis to an becoming an internationally-distributed producer of specialty mixers and bitters. You can find their syrups and bitters being used in home bars, Vegas casinos, cocktail competitions, some of the country’s most respected bars, and Italy & Australia.
The tables got turned on this week’s episode. We sat down with the guys from DRNK CLTR to talk about a bit about Shift Drink, and about our “day jobs”. We drank some Jamaican rum & French wine, discussed our lack of importance in the world, uppity sommeliers, rum’s increasing popularity, and how the Midwest is (mistakenly) perceived as flyover country.
Brother Cleve is a true Renaissance Man. He’s a legendary bartender, an accomplished musician, an amateur historian, a charismatic storyteller, and a Minister of the Church of the SubGenius. He’s remixed Bollywood film music, toured the world playing exotica, and was instrumental in the craft cocktail revival. His place in cocktail history was recently documented in A Proper Drink: The Untold Story of How a Band of Bartenders Saved the Civilized Drinking World by Robert Simonson. He needs little introduction in cocktail & Tiki circles. Grab a Mai Tai and listen to the most interesting stories you’ll hear all day.
UPDATE: After listening, many people have expressed interest in his DJ work and his Bollywood mixes. You can find them at:
It’s been a year since we’ve had Ben Jones on the show. The last time around (Rhum Agricole with Ben Jones) we were talking all things Martinique. This time he’s back to talk about St. Lucia Distillers, a relatively recent addition to the Spiribam portfolio. Learn a bit about how the islands work together, how the hurricanes affected the islands, the Ti’ Punch Cup, and rum salad. So grab a bottle of Chairman’s Reserve and have a listen.
This week we planned on talking with Chris Benedyk of Love Handle about the breakfast/brunch revolution. We planned on talking about how chefs that traditionally opened dinner-only restaurants are now rethinking their concepts and cooking innovative food for the morning hours. We planned to get deep into what makes a dish a “brunch dish”. We planned on delving into the world of offal and how it can elevate a breakfast. Instead Ed got drunk. With Chris Benedyk. In an hour.
Episode title stolen from The Boogie Monster Podcast
Vermouth, Amaro, and Haus Alpenz or:
How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Tell Jake to Shut The F*ck Up
If there are two confusing categories of alcohol, vermouth and amaro are at the top of the list. There are few people as knowledgeable on the subject as Jake Parrott of Haus Alpenz. He’s an old friend of the show so expect some NSFW language and ribbing along with some twisting rabbit holes of information. This is a very deep subject and the best way is to dive right in. We recommend giving this episode a few listens while making some of the simple cocktail recipes that Jake offers up for our listeners. And don’t forget to check out their instagram feed for even more inspiration
Alexandre Gabriel, Master Blender and Owner of Maison Ferrand, has turned the company into one of the most important producers of fine spirits in the industry. He’s a bibliophile, voracious reader of historic texts, a farmer, and a perfectionist. As the charismatic leader of a band of misfits, he and his team have brought the world elegant Cognac, obtained permission to distill gin in Cognac stills during the off-season, and produces liqueurs that recall his childhood in Burgundy. But one of the biggest marks he’s leaving on the industry is with Plantation Rum. There is nary a rum producer that he doesn’t know. His Grands Terroirs series of rums exhibit the very essence of the islands from which they’re produced. His recent acquisition of the West Indies Rum Distillery in Barbados is guaranteed to ensure that we’ll be tasting new expressions of Plantation Rums for decades to come.
Still bar hopping in Amsterdam, this week Ed and Arthur met up with Timo Janse of Door 74. He started out working at hotel bars before there was a cocktail scene in Amsterdam and soon enough he was running a place considered one of the World’s 50 Best Bars. As an active participant as a judge and competitor at cocktail festivals around the world, he’s proven that the Dutch are a force to be reckoned with. With such a diverse population around him, he draws inspiration from cultures all over the world and the spirits that connect us. So grab a glass of baijiu and have a listen.
The guys are in Amsterdam and hitting some of the best bars in the world – in Amsterdam. Born in Argentina, raised in Miami, and now residing in Amsterdam, Guillermo Gonzalez is operating one of the best bars in the world. This week he sits down to talk with the guys about life in Amsterdam, how he operates his bar, Hiding in Plain Sight (HPS), under the radar and still serves some of the best drinks in town, and how the cocktail scene in Amsterdam has grown by leaps and bounds over the last several years.
Aric Geesaman of Ash Blaeds has a background in the sciences, but his frustration with cheap knives lead to a whole new business. He drops by to talk about metallurgy, forging blades, making custom knives for professional chefs and home cooks, reality television, choosing the right sword for the right armor, and “The Blondes Age”.
It’s our Independence Day Episode! What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than with BBQ and heavy metal? This week’s guest does it all – a food truck, competitions, full-time work in Criminal Justice, and brings it all together with the edge of black metal. Chris Morrison’s Black Metal BBQ has been working it’s way up to the top of BBQ competitions. Though he’s relatively new to the circuit, he’s been barbequing for over a decade. Chris fills us in on regional styles, how the competition judging works, and offers some tips for those of you looking to become the neighborhood pitmaster. Hint: drink a lot of bourbon.
Patrick Aledo took over as General Manager of Pierre Sparr in Alsace, France in 2009. Under his direction, the winery has released some beautiful expressions of the Alsace terroir. Uniquely situated on the border between France and Germany, Alsatians make wines that, according to The World Atlas of Wine, are “Germanic wine in a French way”. Varietals like Muscat, Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner, and Gewurztraminer thrive here, but Riesling is king. Patrick discusses why wines of Alsace are so different from their French and German cousins, a bit of the history of Pierre Sparr, Alsatian dogs, and invites us to the Alsace Wine Fair – which we immediately decided we would attend. Look for shows from Europe in August.
Mony Bunni is one of Chicago’s hardest working bartenders – working three jobs while serving as a brand ambassador for Bodegas Lustau sherry. Fresh off her win at Speed Rack, Mony drops in to talk about sherry, brandy, travel, and the Speed Rack competition and how the organization helps raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. Special note to bartenders: there is a Lustau cocktail competition happening now. We talk about it at the end. You have until June 30th, 2017 to submit.
Breweries are popping up across the country so fast that it’s hard to keep up. Our guests this week, Isaac Arthur and Cody Fague of CODO Design, specialize in helping craft brewers with the branding process – from the taprooms, logos and website, to the story behind the breweries themselves. Having worked with dozens of breweries, CODO Design just released a new book – the Craft Beer Branding Guide. We sat down the the guys, drank some great local brews, and talked about the pitfalls of creating a beer brand.
It’s spring, and that means it’s swarm season. This week, we’re sitting down with beekeeper Kate Franzman of Bee Public and mead maker Brett Canaday of New Day Craft to learn about honey, bees’ murderous tendencies, the battle for the throne, their portrayal in film, and mead – the nectar of the gods. If it’s good enough for the Vikings, it’s good enough for you. Valhalla, we are coming!
After deciding a career in chemical engineering wasn’t his calling, Nicolas Palazzi did what any insane person would do – he started an alcohol import business with no knowledge of how to do it. Now, just 6 years later, his company, PM Spirits, is known as the go-to for the rare and esoteric. Each bottle has a story, and Nico knows them all because he knows each producer personally. He champions the little guy and brings you all the things you didn’t know you wanted. Until now.
You can find photos of the bottles mentioned in this episode on our Instagram feed.
Jay Schroeder, formerly of Mezcaleria Las Flores and Rick Bayless’ Frontera Restaurants in Chicago, visits the show to get down and dirty about mezcal. Being one of our favorite spirits, we get into the farming of agave, distillation, the difficulties of Mexican alcohol regulation, and cultural appropriation. This episode is one close to our hearts.
Sheri Morano, at age 16, had a simple meal in Italy with a bottle of table wine that changed her path forever. She is now the youngest American woman to become a Master of Wine – and one of only 356 Masters of Wine in the world. We talk about wine snobs, bad pronunciation, the Arroyo Seco AVA & Scott Family Estate, her theory on the connection between wine and reality television, and the wine app that she helped to develop, Wine Ring.
Lior Lev Sercarz’s own personal spice road has taken him all over the globe searching for the world’s best spices – ones that show a sense of place or evoke emotion. His custom blends end up in the kitchens of Daniel Boulud, Eric Ripert, David Chang and Michelin-starred restaurants around the world.
His spice lab is in Hell’s Kitchen, where he owns and operates La Boite.
Camper English, the founder of Alcademics, is one of the most important cocktail writers working in the industry today. His experiments and findings have been discussed and implemented into home and commercial bars all over the country. He even developed a method of making crystal clear ice at home, called “directional freezing”. With his new book, Tonic Water: AKA GNT WTF, he discusses the historical importance of tonic water, malaria, syphilis, and Operation Catdrop.
Chris Eley is the owner of the nationally-renowned Smoking Goose Meatery and Goose the Market in Indianapolis. After going to school on the East Coast, and working in Chicago for six years with some of the city’s best chefs, he decided to return to his hometown and open an old-school, neighborhood butcher shop in 2007. He didn’t realize at the time that he was on his way to becoming one of the country’s best butchers – with his charcuterie ending up in shops from coast to coast.
For more information about shochu, check out our Shochu Addendum.
Annemarie Sagoi is a true Renaissance woman. She’s lived in Japan, France, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Cambodia. She’s a furniture designer, pianist, English teacher, Bollywood movie extra, bartender extraordinaire, and partner at Le Boutier in Phnom Penh.
She talks about the challenges and thrill of working abroad, Cambodia’s music scene, and gives away a few secrets along the way.
Nick Kosevich and his business partner, Ira, founded Bittercube in 2009 – filling a (then) void in the cocktail world. Nick sits down with us to talk about the basics of bitters and how they make their bitters without extracts or artificial flavors. As the drinks keep coming, we get into the concept of Nordic tiki and a lot of hangover cures.
Jake Koeneman from Central State Brewing gets into a discussion with the guys about the toll that owning a small business takes on the owners. Licensing, code enforcement, anxiety attacks, and lightning-fast communication in the digital age all can pose unique problems for a start-up business.
The blog post referenced in the episode can be found here: Fear and Loathing in a New Restaurant
Arthur and Ed sit down with Jake Koeneman and Josh Hambright of Central State Brewing at their bar, The Koelschip, to talk about their unique way of brewing, the farmhouse beer movement, and the proliferation of breweries in the Midwest… And drink beer. A lot of beer.
The crew breaks open a bottle of Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond and sits down with The Whiskey Professor, Bernie Lubbers. We talk about all things whiskey – how to read a label, who the names are on the bottles, bourbon history, and a little about Bourbon & Bluegrass.
For more info, visit Bernie’s website at http://www.whiskeyprof.com
Ben Mélin-Jones drops by to drink Ti’ Punch while educating us about what makes rhum from Martinique different from other rum. Chacun prépare sa propre mort.
UPDATE (Oct 11, 2017): Ben revisited the show to talk about the Ti’ Punch Cup and St. Lucia Distillers. Check it out here: Ben Jones and St. Lucia Distillers
Matt Pietrek aka Cocktail Wonk visits the show to talk about writing, taking great cocktail photos, cloud-based storage, and rum. Check out CocktailWonk.com to see what he’s been up to since visiting the show.
Erin Hayes, Tiki Queen and Aviation Gin evangelist from Chicago visits the show to talk about why gin gets a bad rap, how Aviation Gin from PDX is changing perceptions about the classic spirit, and why you need to re-visit gin if you’ve been missing out.
Ed and Arthur kick off Shift Drink with quick introductions and a discussion about Indianapolis’ dining and cocktail scene and the upcoming cocktail tour of downtown Indy called Mixture.