As host of Booze Traveler on Travel Channel, Jack Maxwell has the enviable job of exploring the world’s must-visit drinking establishments..
Recently, he’s added a spinoff to the mix. On Booze Traveler: Best Bars, he’s on the hunt for America’s greatest bars and watering holes. Think of it as a cross-country pub crawl filled with delicious drinks, potent potables and beautiful brews.
And honestly, Booze Traveler is probably the best title of a show ever so we decided we needed to know more about this nice balance of cocktails and conversation. We hit Maxwell up via email where he talked bars, beverages, the Tequila Sunrise, Vanilla Ice, and the most challenging aspect of being a Booze Traveler.
TV Goodness: How were you able to turn your passion for travel into a career?
Jack Maxwell: Lucky, I guess. Auditioned for the job and got it. Really glad I did!
TV Goodness: Talk about Booze Traveler: Best Bars. What’s this show trying to accomplish?
Jack Maxwell: Booze Traveler: Best Bars will bring us all over the United States showing the best bars this country has to offer, mostly by category. Best tropical bars, best hidden bars, best haunted bars are just a few of them.
TV Goodness: Give us a taste of what this season has to offer.
Maxwell: We’ll go to places like the Trident in Sausalito, California. This is where the Rolling Stones cruised up in their yacht and Keith Richards, looking for a drink, asked the bartender for something with tequila. As the sun was just coming up, he wanted a morning-type mixer with it. Thus, the Tequila Sunrise was born.
TV Goodness: In one episode, you got to hang out with Vanilla Ice. What did you learn about him? And what was his bar and/or drink of choice?
Maxwell: Rob is a cool cat, actually. He loves hanging out at the Old Key Lime House in Lantana, Florida. I just happened to run into him because we were shooting there as part of our â€œBest Dockside Barsâ€ episode. Didn’t spend a lot of time with him but in those few minutes I could feel how much he cares about his music. He also told me he has a design degree. Who knew?
TV Goodness: For you personally, what are the necessities required to make a great bar?
Maxwell: Who knows what really makes a great bar? All depends what it is you’re looking for. I love a place that as soon as you walk in, you feel comfortable. Not too bright, not too loud, friendly and knowledgeable staff, great selection of drinks and a bartender that appreciates the art of mixology.
TV Goodness: What’s your favorite bar in your hometown of Boston? Why?
Maxwell: Not sure I have a favorite bar in Boston. So many of the ones that were there when I was growing up are now gone. That’s inevitable in a lot of cities, I suppose. Most of the pubs I shined shoes in are so different now or have been converted into something else. Southie itself has changed quite a bit. Iâ€™ll have to make a trip back there and maybe find a new favorite.
TV Goodness: What’s the episode of Booze Traveler: Best Bars you’re really looking forward to people seeing and why?
Maxwell: Not trying to be tricky here but I love each and every episode of Booze Traveler. The world is this big wide wonderful place with some cool things but mostly some really lovely people. I think every episode has something for someone.
TV Goodness: What’s the most challenging aspect of being a Booze Traveler?
Maxwell: That’s a good question. A lot of people have told me I’ve got the best job in the world. Don’t know if that’s true, but it’s the best job I’ve ever had, that’s for sure. That being said, there are some challenges. The travel part can be long and hard sometimes. It took us over 40 hours of straight non-stop travel to get from LAX to our lodge in Siberia. That included three plane rides with layovers, and an eight-hour van ride. The jet lag can be killer. Still so worth it though.
TV Goodness: What’s the best part of hosting shows like Booze Traveler and Booze Traveler: Best Bars?
Maxwell: Without question, it’s the people I meet. Whenever I come back home, and my friends and family want stories, they’re always about the people I’ve met and hardly ever about the monuments and mountains, etc. Man, you’re going to meet some fun, smart, funny and completely interesting people on both Booze Traveler and Booze Traveler: Best Bars this year. Hope you get a chance to tune in.
TV Goodness: You’ve traveled all over the world for this job. What city not in the U.S. do you feel has the best bars and why?
Maxwell: Don’t know that I could give that title to any one city but there are fascinating bars around the world that I would run-not-walk to if I went back. There’s a speakeasy in Buenos Aires that looks like a flower shop from the outside. There’s MoMix in Athens that brings molecular mixology to a whole new level, hence the name. How about Bar High Five in Tokyo? A small, nondescript place in an office building. However, the owner and bartender is one, Mr. Ueno, named â€œWorld’s Best Bartenderâ€ multiple times. Makes some of the greatest drinks on earth. If you go, ask him to make you his version of the Japanese Garden.
TV Goodness: You pursued your passion and made it work. What advice do you have for others who don’t quite know how to do that?
Maxwell: I would never pretend to have the answers just because I ended up/lucked into hosting Booze Traveler. One thing I’m sure of though, is that you should pursue your passion with all your energy and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t. Follow your heart, and live in gratitude. Some friends of mine trying to do the same thing only focused on the final destination and considered the journey hard work. I enjoyed it all. Every aspect of it.
TV Goodness: The original Booze Traveler just finished its third season. Why do you think it’s a show that resonates with the Travel Channel audience?
Maxwell: I think Booze Traveler has found an audience, because they see the real joy I have for people and the respect for their cultures and traditions. It’s not about the drink. That just gets us into the scene. It’s a celebration of all the different people on this beautiful planet of ours. If you catch the show you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
TV Goodness: What’s the drink you like to sit down and chill with at the end of the day? What does that drink represent for you?
Maxwell: It depends who I’m with and what I’m doing. Always enjoy a good martini. I love sharing a fine single malt scotch with friends. There are few drinks on Earth that can match a Pisco Sour — if it’s made properly.
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