Rage, Then Evolve Into the Machine 

Since I'll be jetting off to Paris in a few weeks (finally getting some much needed R&R), I've started doing little things to pump myself up—like searching the web for interesting restaurants around my hotel, or watching old Bourdain episodes about France. I happened to catch a rerun of the 100th episode special where Tony and chef Eric Ripert meet up with young upstarts in the radically-changing Paris bistro scene; kids who are rebelling against the stodgy old guard of Parisian cuisine with its dependence upon Michelin stars, rules, and etiquette. Tony keeps laughing at poor Eric, who ends up repeatedly having to defend his position as the head chef at a one of the best restaurants in the world; as if that were a bad thing (something these other youngsters wanted to avoid at all costs—it seemed).

"There is room for both casual and fine dining. You can go to a U2 concert and then the next day go to the opera. It's not black and white; you don't have to choose one or the other," Eric says.

"But if you're young and starting out, it's important to attack U2. I think you almost have to," Tony went on to say. 

"You don't run a three-starred Michelin restaurant to screw people over," Eric replied. "I do it because I have passion and I want to make people happy!"

I laughed out loud when I heard him say that because I understood exactly where he was coming from. I've come across that same attitude in my time as a spirits buyer; the people who analyze every aspect of whisky to figure out how the parent company is ripping them off (and ultimately how they can outsmart it!). Some of them thought buying a bottle of corporate whiskey meant they were selling out or getting duped, but really it just meant they were missing out on some really good hooch. Not every company that achieves success is being co-opted into a soulless system. Sometimes hard work and dedication simply move you up the ladder of life, where you try to make a larger number of people as happy as you originally made a smaller group. But we're always surprised to see how things can change when that happens ("I realize now that I am old," Eric says at one point).

I really enjoy watching Bourdain and his friend Eric because they see both sides of the coin; they enjoy both the top and bottom shelves of cuisine and they live in the moment. The older I get, the less radical I become in my beliefs and the more I look to simply enjoy myself; much like these guys.

No Reservations was a great show, by the way. I really miss it.

-David Driscoll


Dark Entries/Origins (Malt Goes Goth)

Caressing bent up to the booze again
Washbacks and mills invading all those stills
In a hovel of a bar I will scream not perry
Oh please, Miss Mary, just a bit of sherry

Went tasting through this Isle's peated flight
In fear of disguising my whisky seething
Pressure to drink the best, intangible of price
Trying so hard to find what was right

I came upon your store it stuck into my zeal
We lept into the deal, discarding all my vice
You took delight in taking down my shielded pride
And then exposed me to a darker side
Puckering up and down those flavorings of sin
Not cheap to ride, but still worth a try

If only for the old times, cold times
Don't go wasting this pretentious buzz

Dark Origins (sing it Peter Murphy!)

Highland Park "Dark Origins" Single Malt Whisky $79.99Once very limited, now more readily available! A darker, heavier, richer Highland Park that uses twice as many first-fill sherry butts as the standard 12 year. It's dark, sinister, and brooding, just like the figure shrouding in black robes on the front of the bottle. It's what I imagine David J drinking when he drinks Scotch during a magick ceremony (and I've heard he likes single malt).

-David Driscoll


Drinking to Drink: The Interview Archive

The complete list of interviews (now including On the Trail, as well):

D2D Interview: Director Steven Soderbergh

D2D Interview: Bauhaus/Love & Rockets founder David J.

D2D Interview: Animal Collective's Geologist

D2D Interview: Former NFL Quarterback Steve Bono

D2D Interview: Silicon Valley Mogul Marc Andreessen

D2D Interview: The Jazz Butcher's Pat Fish

D2D Interview: Warriors Woman Nicole Curran

D2D Interview: Frontier Records owner Lisa Fancher

D2D Interview: Paramount Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura

D2D Interview: Sharpshooter Chuck Bradshaw

D2D Interview: Surfing Legend Taylor Knox

D2D Interview: Former WWE Champion Rob Van Dam

D2D Interview: Acclaimed Comic Artist Jaime Hernandez

D2D Interview: American Entrepreneur Rande Gerber

D2D Interview: Wrestling Icon Kevin Nash

D2D Interview: Actor Sam Neill

D2D Interview: Best-Selling Author Lev Grossman

D2D Interview: Hollywood Moguls The Houston Brothers

D2D Interview: Journalist and Author Maximillian Potter

D2D Interview: Michelin Three-Star Chef Alain Passard

D2D Interview: The Dandy Warhols' Courtney Taylor-Taylor

D2D Interview: Actor and Comedian Dean Cameron

On the Trail: American Entrepreneur John-Paul Dejoria

On the Trail: Hip-Hop Producer Christoph Andersson

D2D Interview: Global Grafitti Artist Chaz

On the Trail: Devo's Gerald Casale

On the Trail: Designers Eva and Ava Bai

D2D Interview: Art Documenter Paige Powell

D2D Interview: Actor Kyle MacLachlan

D2D Interview: Salvatore Ferragamo

D2D Interview: Jenny McCarthy

On the Trail: Golden Knights Owner Bill Foley

D2D Interview: Punk Rock Icon Rikk Agnew

D2D Interview: Actor John Cho

-David Driscoll


2014: Day 365

We're almost there. Just another four hours and we can officially put this holiday season, and year as a whole, to bed. I'm gassed. Just totally spent—emotionally and physically—but all the hard work was worth it. The amount of support, great feedback, and good cheer from K&L customers over the last 31 days has been tremendous; nothing but outpours of well wishes and kind courtesy. It's been a wonder to watch and to receive. I'm pretty much at the point where I can no longer answer all of my email, which is exciting and depressing at the same time. I've always made it a personal point of pride to answer every single message that landed in my inbox, but there's just no way I can do it right now. I apologize to those of you who have taken time to drop me a line or start a new dialogue. I've always enjoyed the banter and back and forth, but there's just too much at the moment. If you've sent it, however, I've read it—that you can be sure of!

There are a lot of things to look forward to in 2015—both at K&L and here on this blog. We already have a number of new projects in the making that should please customers old and new—things that will break new boundaries and stretch the understanding of what buying a bottle of alcohol should entail. We'll be expanding into new genres as well, as it turns out that artists of all genres enjoy their hooch. It's amazing how many of these folks have found K&L via this blog or some of our unique spirits offerings. Starting next week I'll be posting an interview series with some of the people I've come into contact with over the last few years; to move beyond simply the practical knowledge of production and into the general application of enjoyment. I started off strong a few months ago with director Steven Soderbergh and the conversation we had about Singani, but since then I've added a few names to the list that should add to that dynamic. Musicians, athletes, and more public personalities will be adding their two cents to the mix.

There's a lot more to talk about, but all in due time. Right now, I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported us in the store, on the phone, and via email; especially those of you who take the time to read the blog as well. It's a lot of work and it's demanding at times, but it's always worth doing when it leads to the type of interaction and relationships that I've encountered recently.

I wish all of you a happy new year and I hope you party soundly and safely tonight. Rest assured, I will be passed out on the couch before midnightexhausted, disheveled, and drunk. But I'll have a big smile on my face. And that smile comes from all of your support and general enthusiasm for good booze.

We love you all. Thanks again.

-David Driscoll


Splurging – Part III: Anti-Splurging (IKEA Bar – Part II)

Like I said in the previous posts, there's nothing like spending tons of cash on expensive booze to make you realize just how good a value the everyday stuff is. I partied pretty high on the hog this weekend. I treated myself (numerous times) to fancy bottles, fancy meals, and luxurious living.  I won't lie—it was pretty great. That being said, I still love my basic hooch bargains. Much like fashion icon Coco Chanel once preached: it's not about looking rich, it's about looking good. That's why she always wore fake pearls; unlike the thousand dollar strands her namesake company peddles today. Since the IKEA bar post from last summer was such a hit, I thought I'd come back with round two today.

Let's see if we can keep it under $100, yet again:

Rye: Jim Beam Rye $14.99 — A hot deal for this little 40% workhorse. There's a new Green Label rye coming from Beam later in 2015 that will be bottled at 45%, but for now this guy is tough to beat. I prefer it over Bulleit Rye for cocktails as there's a more pronounced note of pepper and creamy corn.

Bourbon: Jim Beam White Label Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey $12.99 — By the end of 2015, the Beam renaissance will have taken place. There's a concerted effort—even more so since the Suntory merger—to restore Beam's reputation amongst the craft crowd of whiskey sippers. This is like the Pabst Blue Ribbon or Miller High Life of Bourbons. Drink it ironically if you want, but it'll hit the spot either way.

Gin: City of London Gin $14.99 — This is from the same distillery portfolio that imports Hayman's Old Tom and the Royal Dock London gins. It's clean, dry, and it's the personal home bar gin of both myself and Champagne buyer Gary Westby. Another unknown gem.

Vodka: Real Russian Vodka $7.99 — Our owner bought so much of this stuff a while back we're still trying to get rid of it. You won't see drinkable, clean neutral grain for cheaper than this. It's not normally this price, let's put it that way. An IKEA bar must.

Tequila: Cimarron Blanco Tequila 1L $15.99 — Still going with the Cimarron. Nothing better, and nothing ever will be better for the money.

Rum: Appleton Estate V/X Jamican Rum $17.99 — Campari is back to wheelin'-and-dealin' with the legendary Jamaican brand. A great, characterful rum for sub-$20. You can sip this over ice, mix it with Coke, or shake up a Daiquiri. It's even bold enough for a punch. Love it.

Subtotal: $84.94

CA Tax: $7.87

Total: $92.81

-David Driscoll