Countdown to BevCon

It’s just two weeks until BevCon! Last year I was thrilled to be a part of the inaugural beverage industry conference held in Charleston, and this year I’ll be back, hosting a few panels and events. Looking forward to seeing old friends like Scott Blackwell and Ann Marshall of High Wire Distilling Co. and meeting many new ones. And this year the gang from PUNCH will be on-hand as underwriters of BevCon. When I’m not hanging out at the bar at The Ordinary, you can find me at the following events:

Getting Published II
Wednesday, August 23
1:00PM – 2:00PM
Hyatt House Charleston
In this follow-up to last year’s popular panel, “So You Want to Write a Book About Booze?” I’ll be moderating a discussion with Paul Clarke, Matt Lee, and Kara Newman covering everything you need to know about the writing (and selling) a book.

Beyond Branca: The Fernet Family
Thursday, August 24
10:00AM – 11:00AM
Hyatt House Charleston
I’ve pulled together an eclectic lineup of 12 different fernet from around the world, including many new American-made expressions, for a talk and tasting about this dark, bitter category of amaro that’s a favorite among industry professionals.

Let’s Get Lit: Author Reading Party and Book Signing
Thursday, August 24
6:00PM – 8:00PM
The Oyster Shed at Leon’s Oyster Shop
At one of my favorite panels from last year’s panel, my dear friend Gary Crunkleton conducted a seminar/one-man show in which he admitted that he’s only read two books in his life cover to cover–The Bible and A Time to Kill. Who better, then, to MC this spirited reading event? I’ll be joining a pretty cool lineup of writers at The Oyster Shed at Leon’s Oyster Shop for a cocktail-fueled reading from our new and upcoming work. Featured readers include:

Talia Baiocchi
Jon Bonné
Paul Clarke
Wayne Curtis
Megan Krigbaum
Matt Lee
Kara Newman
Brad Thomas Parsons
Hanna Raskin
Robert Simonson
David Wondrich

Hope to see you there!


AMARO E-Book Promotion

Through July 17, the digital e-book of Amaro: The Spirited World of Bittersweet, Herbal Liqueurs is available to U.S. consumers across all  retailers for just $1.99.

Order your eBook from:

Announcing the “Amaro Never Knows” National Book Tour


I’m excited to announce the dates and cities for my upcoming “Amaro Never Knows” national book tour. My new book, Amaro: The Spirited World of Bittersweet, Herbal Liqueurs, will be available on Tuesday, October 11 (if you haven’t already pre-ordered a copy, I hope you’ll consider doing so either online or at your local bookstore) and I’ll kick off a 12-city tour starting in New York City.

The events will be a mix of talks and guided amari tastings along with Amaro Power Hours, where bars and restaurants will be featuring cocktails from the book along with small bites. In Memphis, at Porcellino’s, we’ll have an evening of bocce and bonfires with roaming amaro cart service. Chef Matt Bolus at The 404 Kitchen in Nashville promises a family-style whole hog barbecue with bittersweet drinks to wash it down. The day before Halloween in Seattle, we’ll have a “Haunted Hangover” bitter boozy brunch service at The Carlile Room. In Los Angeles, Highland Park Bowl will be hosting an afternoon pizza and bowling party. And in Chicago at Billy Sunday, we’ll be “Tasting the Cover” by sampling some of the vintage amaro featured on the book jacket of Amaro.

Check out the “Events” listing on the left-hand side of this page for more details (and links will be added with more information). I hope you’ll save the date for any stops in your city, and I look forward to seeing you this fall. Stay bitter!

“Amaro Never Knows” Book Tour

10/11: New York, NY | Maialino

10/17: Memphis, TN | Porcellino’s Craft Butcher

10/18: Nashville, TN | The 404 Kitchen

10/20: Charleston, SC | High Wire Distilling Co.

10/20: Charleston, SC | Edmund’s Oast

10/21: Chapel Hill, NC | The Crunkleton

10/22: Raleigh, NC | Fox Liquor Bar

10/25: New York, NY | Eataly (Flatiron)

10/28: San Francisco, CA | Omnivore Books

10/30: Seattle, WA | The Carlile Room

11/1: Seattle, WA | Barnacle

11/2: Seattle, WA | Hot Stove Society

11/3: Seattle, WA | Book Larder

11/5: Los Angles, CA | Highland Park Bowl

11/13: Chicago, IL | Billy Sunday

11/13: Chicago, IL | The Milk Room

11/14: Chicago, IL | Billy Sunday

11/19: Washington, DC  | Masseria

12/3: Philadelphia, PA | Abe Fisher



BevCon Bound!


Next week at this time, I’ll be South Carolina for the inaugural BevCon Charleston, an event that promises to bring together a host of like-minded beverage and restaurant industry professionals for three days of spirited panels, tastings, talks, and excursions.  I look forward to seeing some old friends and meeting plenty of new ones. If you’re attending, please say hello–I’ll be armed with plenty of Underberg. I’m also on two panels:

Monday, August 22
11:30AM – 12:30AM
Demystifying Amaro: Exploring the World of Bittersweet, Herbal Liqueurs
This will be a talk and guided tasting through nine different amari, including some of my favorite regional, American expressions. And it will also serve as a preview to my new book, Amaro (available October 11).

Tuesday, August 23
11:45AM – 12:45AM
So You Want to Write a Book About Booze? Navigating the Publishing Process, From Concept to Publication to Beyond
I’ll be moderating this panel of authors, which includes Paul Clarke, Matt Lee and Ted Lee, Robert F. Moss, and Kathleen Purvis.

Hope to see you there!


Amaro: First-Pass Pages


Wrapped up a 3.5-hour conference call with my patient editor Emily Timberlake to review the first-pass pages of Amaro. Ed Anderson‘s photos are incredible. I can’t wait for everyone to see them in all their bittersweet glory.

It’s Rye Time


Loving the March culture issue of Bon Appétit, and not just because I have a piece on rye whiskey in it.

How Do You Like Them Apples?



Learn how to up your spirited apple intake in my piece in the January issue of Bon Appétit.

Distillery Cats Book


Photo: Brad Thomas Parsons, “Cats of NYC” Tote, The Strand Bookstore


While I’m an equal-opportunity friend of the animal kingdom, those who know me would easily identify me as a “cat guy.” Dogs were a part of my household growing up, but there was always a cat underfoot. From childhood through high-school there was Waldo, a larger-than-life, 20-pound bruiser who we always suspected was half Maine Coon; then my college girlfriend thought that breaking up with me would be easier by gifting me with Wushu, an agile calico kitten who came home with me on Thanksgiving break and was quickly adopted by my father as his own; and I now share my life (and my Brooklyn apartment) with Louis, an affable 11-year-old gray tabby whose exploits on Instagram typically garner more “likes” than my steady stream of food and drinks posts.

Aside from calling out Louis in the Acknowledgments in Bitters, my twin passions for cats and cocktails didn’t fully align on the page until last December, when I wrote a piece for PUNCH entitled “The Secret Lives of Distillery Cats,” where I surveyed the spirited tradition of the subset of working class cats devoted to protecting distilleries’ barley, rye, and corn from rodents, birds, and other potential invaders. Feline legends like Glenturret Distillery’s Towser the Mouser, the Michael Jordan of distillery cats, and the new breed of distillery cats, such as Carlos and Jeffey of Brooklyn’s King County Distillery, were but a few of the featured cats carrying on this centuries old practice.

In early August I received an e-mail from NPR’s Ari Shapiro and the next morning I was in the New York studios of NPR off Bryant Park talking about cats for half an hour. Ari’s report, “Behind Every Good Whisky Is a Trusty Distillery Cat” (R.I.P. Peat the Distillery Cat) aired on Tuesday, September 9, and in an instant, distillery cats were not so secret anymore. You’ll forgive me for the high-reaching analogy, but if Ari was inspired by my original story (in this example, my Rubber Soul) to produce his own story (in this example, his Pet Sounds), then I can only hope that the next product of this inspirational trade-off, a book on distillery cats, will be my Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  That’s right, in addition to Amaro (Fall 2016), the book I’m currently working on, I’m happy to report that Ten Speed Press will also be publishing Distillery Cats (Spring 2016).

To continue the music analogy, Distillery Cats will be a much smaller book, an EP between Bitters and Amaro. A well-designed, very giftable volume of 30 notable distillery cats, with illustrations, photographs, essays, and cocktail recipes. It’s Profiles in Courage meets Secrets of the Sommeliers, but with cats. If you’re a distiller with a cat on staff,
drop me a line, and be sure to get your daily distillery cat fix @DistilleryCats on Instagram.


Another Bitter, Boozy, Food-Filled Year Under My Belt

Photo: Brad Thomas Parsons

Photo: Brad Thomas Parsons

All is quiet on New Year’s Day, making it the perfect occasion for a look back at 2013.

On the book front, I’ve been fortunate that interest in Bitters is still going strong.  Just over two-years-old it’s currently in its sixth printing, sales continue to be strong and steady, and I’m still doing classes and events and fielding regular media requests. I’m so very  grateful to all of the booksellers, readers, bartenders, and cocktail enthusiasts for their continued support.

Aside from adventures in Brooklyn and Manhattan this year I returned to some of my favorite cities like Seattle, Oxford, Memphis, and Austin. I made multiple trips to San Francisco and Napa Valley throughout the year and had an unforgettable weekend in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Triangle along with some quick trips to Boston and Philadelphia.

And so I present a super-sized, spirited look back at 2013, pausing on some of my favorite moments, most of which involved delicious food or a cocktail. And remember, you can keep up with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Cheers, and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous New Year!


Looking Back On a Very Bitter Year


Photo: Krishna Dayanidhi

This morning I received an e-mail from my editor that said “Happy 1 Year Bitters-versary!” It was a year ago today that Bitters was published, and it turned out to be a pretty eventful year. The book is now in its fourth printing (with a fifth just around the corner) and this year it was honored with an IACP Award and a James Beard Award, and nominated for a Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award. It also landed on Best of the Year lists from Amazon, iBookstore, and Bon Appetit. In Brooklyn, where I live, there were events at Whisk, Greenlight Bookstore, and The Brooklyn Kitchen, and I went on the bitters trail in San Francisco (Omnivore Books), Portland (The Meadow), Seattle (Book Larder, Dahlia Lounge), and Boston (The Boston Shaker). I’m still thrilled when I see Bitters in bookstores (I swear, I never, well almost never face out the book on the shelf), and it’s especially rewarding to come across it in the house library of actual bars and restaurants.

The Acknowledgements in Bitters already run too long, but another big thank you to my publisher, Ten Speed Press and the Crown Publishing Group for all of their support, and for all of the readers, bartenders, bitters lovers, and cocktail enthusiasts, who have embraced the book. And to my publisher, Aaron Wehner; my editor, Emily Timberlake; and Ed Anderson, who really brought this book to life.

Now, in the spirit of the celebrated TV series tradition of the “clip show,” I present some highlights from a very bitter year…