Tuesday, 30 June 2015
TV Review: Booze Traveler, New to the Travel Channel
Although there's a ton of enjoyable foodie programmes on television, series dedicated just to us drinks geeks are less common, so when one comes along I'm always eager to give it a try.
I've just discovered there's a new series called Booze Traveler starting on the Travel Channel (Freeview 42, Freesat 150, Virgin 288, Sky 249) and the first episode airs this Thursday 2nd July at 10pm.
In the series, cocktail connoisseur and ex-Boston bartender Jack Maxwell travels around the globe discovering fascinating, unique and sometimes frankly unbelievable drinks, and the customs and cultures behind them.
I was a little bit skeptical about the quality of this programme, but this is a seriously engaging show for drinks geeks like me, and it really does uncover things you simply won't have seen before. It's entertaining, enlightening, outrageous, hugely colourful and sometimes even a little bit daft - but it's well worth watching.
The series takes Jack everywhere from Iceland to Peru, Austria and Tennessee. In the third episode (which I got a sneak preview of), Jack takes us around Nepal, and we see him drink a marijuana milkshake which has ancient, religious significance, experience a hangover cure involving musical bowls, and sample the training camp of the legendary gurkhas (and their favourite traditional drinks), among other wonders.
It's a bit like Michael Palin crossed with Man Vs. Food - all of the intrigue and wonder of exploring people and places you've never seen, plus that very American quality of out-and-out enthusiasm and the unfussy, down-to-earth language and reactions of a real drinks geek.
To some, that might seem like dumbing down a bit at times - especially when Jack deals with some of the more serious cultural traditions - but I found it refreshingly reassuring. Jack isn't afraid to ask questions that some of us might not dare to because we don't want to seem ignorant, and the result is a much greater overall understanding of the customs and ways of life into which he gives us an insight.
As well as learning the history surrounding the drinks, he makes sure we learn how they are made and exactly what goes into them, and he gives impressively evocative tasting notes that make you feel about as close to actually drinking the drinks through the screen as you can get.
Jack's frankness seems a tiny bit cringe at times (that's probably the repressed Brit in me talking) and to be honest everyone he meets seems to find him completely charming. Things did get a tad overly sentimental for my liking at certain moments as well, but in the end I was won over completely - this is a series I will be watching closely, and with a great deal of enthusiasm.
When it comes to drinks, he really knows his stuff, and after you've seen an episode, you'll be hooked. Catch it on Thursdays at 10pm on the Travel Channel - and make sure you have a drink handy.