Jack Maxwell is the host of “Booze Traveler” on the Travel Channel. Season 3 starts tonight with a trip to Mexico. Don’t miss out! Jack grew up shining shoes in bars and gin mills of Boston. He experienced the camaraderie and socializing aspects of people drinking together from a young age. With these experiences under his belt, he knew he was a perfect fit for the role of host of “Booze Traveler”. The show is about so much more than drinks or drinking. It is a cultural experience. Jack took some time out of his day to talk to us about the show and his experiences. Get more info about the show here.
Earle Dutton: How did you get started with the show?
Jack Maxwell: I guess the short answer is that I auditioned for the part. It is not my idea. The reason I was right for the part is I grew up shining shoes in the bar rooms of south Boston. I fell in love with the combination of alcohol and what it does to people. It has a great wonderful socializing effect. I also love the romanticism of travel, adventure and storytelling combined with alcohol. I knew that I understood the basic foundation of the show and the sheer joy of the concept. Here we are about to start airing Season 3.
ED: Do you have a favorite place or episode so far?
JM: I would love to say that I do it would be the easy answer. The honest answer is that there are certain elements even moments from some of the places I have been that I will cherish forever. There is not one that I think make all of the others pale in comparison. I was really struck by the constant sense of humor in Ireland. Just landing in Cuba; this little mysterious island ninety miles off the coast, was so historic for me. Portugal was just gorgeous. It was so beautiful. I had an idea of what I thought Portugal would be like but it was even more beautiful. I don’t know that there is one particular place.
I love busting stereotypes. I go to places having predisposed notions about them as I am sure all of us do. We get these ideas from history books, other people and even the internet. One of the cities I had a real preconceived idea about was Mexico and we are starting Season 3 with that tonight. When you think of Mexico you just have these certain ideas and pictures in your head. There was so much about the trip that was truly new and exciting for me at least. I think people will really discover new things about it. It is not just about tequila, mezcal and Mexican food. It is so much deeper and complex. There is a sense to these people that they just love to share. There is this strong sense of family. They treat you like family once they bring you in. That was really lovely for me to see.
ED: What area or episode really made you change your mind about that place or culture?
JM: I think one of them would have to be Siberia. To me, Siberia just meant exile, ice, snow and desolation. There are thriving communities in Siberia. This one place that was the home of so many Gulags is now a thriving arts district. They people there are wonderful. The things they drink, the way they treat each other, the warmness that they exude, and the happiness to be where they are all add up to amazing people. They have a happiness to be where they are, maybe not even understanding that there are other choices. I am sure there are no other choices for some of them. They are happy for their lot in life and what they have been given. There is such a sense of loyalty to country and to their community.
ED: Have there been any drinks that you really wanted to shy away from but maybe even ended up enjoying?
JM: Sure, that is the thing when you go somewhere and they open up their culture to you. They open up their family, friends, and of course their drinks. You can’t participate in all of the culture and not try the drink because it might be a little strange to you. It is only different to me. It isn’t strange to them. It isn’t like they are pranking me. It is truly what they drink. This season we go to Cambodia. They drink, so I drank, tarantula venom wine. They take a tarantula, cut its fangs and throw it in the wine. The tarantula, of course, expires in this clear liquid made from rice they call wine. You drink it. It is supposed to give you virility among other things. Then, they are happy to grill the tarantula for you. It blows up sort of like Jiffy Pop Popcorn. It gets big like that and just expands. It tastes like baked potatoes.
ED: The title, “Booze Traveler” sort of gives us an idea about the show. There is really a lot more to it though. There is a culture aspect as well. What would you say to someone to get them to check out the show for the first time?
JM: That is a fair point. You might just think I go around and get hammered in different places. Yes, it is about drinks but not necessarily about drinking. It explores the importance of alcohol in just about every culture and civilization since just about the beginning of time. It means different things to different cultures. It might be spiritual. It might even be ceremonial. It might be how they connect to their past, their ancestors. It is so important to so many cultures. We explore why they drink a certain thing, when they drink it, how they drink and here are some stories they tell when they drink it.
If you can’t get to the television to catch Jack Maxwell in the show tonight you can watch it right here.