A Conversation with Jack Maxwell, Jetsetting Host of "Booze Traveler"
Jack Maxwell has been told he has the best job in the world. Traveling around the globe meeting colorful people, learning about their culture, and tasting their cuisine all through the lens of delicious drinks. His passion for storytelling is showcased on his Travel Channel show, “Booze Traveler.” The series just wrapped its third season and is excited about its U.S.-focused offering, “Best Bars,” debuting on April 24 at 10 p.m. EST/PST, also on Travel Channel.
Recently, we had a chance to sit down with Maxwell to discuss his thoughts on hospitality — and his respect for all things alcohol in the U.S.
What does he look for in a perfect bar? That’s a tough question, depending on who you’re asking.
“You ask a thousand people, you get a thousand answers,” says Maxwell. It came down to the people working there. “I want the staff to be friendly and knowledgeable,” he comments — but, he cautions, with that knowledge comes power. “Don’t throw it around and don’t force it on [the guests].”
“The Booze Traveler” has visited so many places around the world that he has developed a feeling for what will make the cut for “Best Bars.”
“To me, as soon as you walk in, I wanna have a sense of place,” he says. "A drink means something. You sit down with a stranger and something to drink. It means something.”
This philosophy has become the basis for his shows: his focus is not on the drinking, but the drink itself.
Do you have to be a cocktail connoisseur to appreciate the show? Not necessarily, said Maxwell.
“One of the greatest compliments I get from people is, ‘I don’t drink, but I love your show,’” he says.
Alcohol is a potent ingredient. While it can elevate and create unique flavors, overconsumption can have unintended side effects. Maxwell is always prudent in his advocacy of the subject, and his fans appreciate this.
“I think my approach is an expression of the joy of all of it. Never excess,” he says.
There are few shows on TV that include alcohol as a starring role. While Maxwell gives all the credit to Travel Channel and the production company, Karga 7, his measured approach to focusing on the background of the civilizations that made the spirits has served him well. It’s not about running around and getting drunk for Maxwell - there’s just no honor in doing that.
“It’s truly a celebration about the people, history and cultures of the world,” Maxwell says.
As Maxwell returns to the U.S. to focus on “Best Bars,” he looks back at the awe the world has for drinking culture. Aside from religious ceremonies in the U.S., craft cocktails and the bartenders that make them is where he finds the most devotion for spirits.
“They do their craft cocktails. It is such an art. The craft of making cocktails, that is another way to show reverence, ” he said.
His biggest piece of advice for bartenders?
“I would love, in a perfect world, for everyone to be polite and respectful, not just because there is money exchanged across the table.”