“Everyone’s mouth deserves to taste fantastic”


DLF_creature_01.jpg

   

Now is the best time to be alive in the history of drinking. Let me explain. From natural wine to specialty coffee to “post craft” beer—things have changed more in the past two decades than the previous century. And what changed was relationships. Farmers, makers, and drinkers are more connected and communicating more than ever. Drinkers become makers, makers become farmers, and we all drink the benefits.

 That’s why Drink Like Fantastic exists: to connect you, the drinker, with the best beverages from coffee to beer to wine coming out of this new, international beverage community of makers and growers. You don’t need to know botany or brewing chemistry to Drink Like Fantastic, all you need to know is who’s making the good stuff and where to find it. And I happen to be obsessed with finding it.

 It started 25 years ago, with a cup of coffee when I was 11. I can still taste it—it wasn’t even a great coffee, it was just better than anything I’d had—and it tasted just like green beans. Green beans in a sweet way, in a sweet, fresh way that reminds me of my grandparents garden in South Carolina.

 That cup would go on to inspire me to win a barista competition, the Brewers Cup, and to found my first business, a coffee company & cafe that imported, roasted, and brewed all of our own beans, beans I sourced myself from Central and South America. I worked in that industry for almost 20 years.

 I discovered my second love, beer, at 21, but the reason I got so into beer was because I actually wanted to be into wine. In high school I’d run home to watch Great Chefs on PBS, and in the chef world, wine was the thing. I had a fantasy of having a hidden wine cellar in Bordeaux filled to the ceiling with elusive vintages, but every bottle I could find and afford in Philly back then, for lack of a better word, sucked.

And a sucky bottle of wine cost me $15 but a great bottle of beer was only $3 and ten times better. So my journey into wine was delayed a decade. Instead I poured over Michael Jackson’s (the king of beer, not pop) books—like The New World Guide to Beer and Ultimate Beer—dreaming of what a fresh Salvator in Munich, or a fresh Kolsch in Cologne, or a 20-year-old Rodenbach Grand Cru, or a 20-year-old Cantillon Oude Gueuze would taste like.

 It took one glass of Gravner ten years later in London for me to realize there was a world of wine, natural wine, that was everything I’d hoped for back when I gave up on it in favor of beer. And so wine and I were reunited, and I started yet another relentless pursuit of flavor. In this pursuit of great beverages I’d discovered something else: people like myself. I call us “bevies”.

Humans have always loved what we drink, and there’s hardly an easier way to start a fight than to insult how someone takes their coffee. When it comes to beverage some love the story, the nostalgia. The idea of walking a donkey down a winding hillside with sacks of coffee beans on it, like the iconic (if imaginary) Juan Valdez, is romantic. The allure of my Bordeaux cellar fantasy or a dusty, 100-year-old bottle is romantic. I get it. But bevies, the truly obsessed, are all about taste.

 “The true gourmet, like the true artist, is one of the unhappiest creatures existent. His trouble comes from so seldom finding what he constantly seeks: perfection.” - Ludwig Bemelman

 Bevies don’t care about the glassware, the decor, the vintage or appellation of the bottle, expense, or status. Whether or not the story of the place or bottle is romantic is secondary to what we really care about—taste. The only thing that matters is that we Drink Like Fantastic.

 And I am singularly devoted to searching out and sharing the most fantastic beverages in the world. You might find me standing in line at Treehouse Brewing for a can release. Or picking coffee in Boquete on Finca Milagrosa at 4 am. Or drinking Pierre Overnoy in a hidden Tokyo bar that’s one part Twin Peaks and one part law office lobby. Today, I’ll take the clay tile roofs of Jura over the turreted estates of Bordeaux, and I’d choose a frat boy watering hole in East Tennessee with a good double dry hopped IPA over a mediocre glass of wine on a canal in Venice. Because for me, the romance is the taste.