August 10, 2011
The Five Questions to Bourbon/Rye Bonne Vivante- Hollis Bulleit
I met Hollis at a table in the press room during the Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. She is hard to miss in her “Facinator” hats that seemed to change hourly. You can see her a mile away with these hand made- crafty pieces of fabric and metals. They fit her personality- or so I found out after bumping into her several times- always on the arm of some incredibly well- dressed and talented mixologist who escorted her through the fray.
Being the daughter of the owner of Bulleit Bourbon (one of my favorite brands) must have many rewarding moments. She was free-pouring her dad’s Bourbon and Rye into glasses with their family name emblazoned on them. I knew we would have much to talk about. A few months earlier- one of the PR agencies sent me some samples of Bulleit Bourbon for subsequent article I wrote about flavor.
I was taken by their Rye Whiskey (from Bulleit)- and made a Mint Julep with it. The flavors carried through the crushed ice, Kentucky Mint and my favorite go/to- Sugar in the Raw all served in a sterling silver Julep Cup.
The memory of this taste hung in my mind for weeks afterwards and I was driven to write about it.
There are many personalities in the spirits world. I’ve met some incredible people along the way. They are inclusive, not exclusive with their friendship.
During the Tales, I met many people I only knew through my meanderings within the world of Social Media. It was a honor to meet many of y’all in person down in New Orleans!
I asked Hollis to answer the Five Questions because I knew she would have an interesting take on the process. Her replies would be honest and a good representation of her own personal life which is revealed in her carefully penned answers.
Without further delay, may I present- Hollis Bulleit!
WRR 1. Where are you from? Do you cook? You’re out on the road so much, do you seek out local foods? What are you passionate about food wise?
I grew up in Lexington Kentucky, but I’ve got gypsy blood in me so since I turned 18 I’ve moved around quite a bit. I’ve spent time in Boston, East Village in New York, Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, Aix-en-Provence France (with stints in London, Spain, and Italy), and now I’m on the west coast. So I’ve certainly earned my street cred to have the World Ambassador of Bulleit Bourbon title. The one thing that I learned from my Mama was to always cook with love. No fighting in the kitchen lest it get into the food. So when I cook, I only cook when I’m happy. When I’m on the road I seek out happy chefs and mixologists. My passion with food as with cocktails is to have new experiences and unique experiences that I cannot duplicate at home. As my Father says, “Our chemistry stops in front of the bar and the mixologist’s art starts behind it”. I included a photo of my father and I with David Nelson at Spur Gastropub of Seattle in 2009 who helped run a six course private dinner for us with food pairings based on the notes in the whiskey (cherry, smoke, etc). It was like cocktail theatre. Truly, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
WRR 2. If you could be anywhere in the world where would that be? What would you be doing while there? Eating? Drinking? What do you like to do when you’re on vacation somewhere?
I’d be in the right here, right now. You know, I’m old enough to know that the best experiences out there are ones that I do not plan. I love meeting new people and being in new places just as much as I love my old haunts and old friends. One of my favorite old haunts that always offers new experiences is the Tales of the Cocktail week in New Orleans where we met. The week- long event is a great place to talk about my whole family, including my bourbon and rye, in an atmosphere of passion about the spirits. I’ve attached a photo of me and Toby Maloney (of Alquemy Consulting… he serves a wicked “Vincent’s Ruin” with the Bulleit Rye) at the Diageo Cocktail Hour at TOTC 2011.
WRR 3. You’re the brand ambassador of a fantastic product. How do you like your Bourbon mixed?
In good company. I’ve attached Warren’s photo of me… in good company.
WRR 4. Do you use Social Media? If so, what do you use?
I use my personal website, www.hollisbulleit.com as a gateway to my Facebook Fanpage where I post recipes, toasts, and my personal artwork (performance installations, paintings, prints, jewelry, and hats). FB is a great way to multitask because I have fanpage for people I’ve briefly met or haven’t met, and I use my personal Facebook page as a Rolodex of colleagues. I have dozens of FB friend folders and I like having a photo that goes along with a name because I’m constantly meeting people in one city and then seeing them in another… it can get confusing. I like the FB places “check in” option, which is especially helpful when I’m on the road corralling my friends and such. I am only Facebook all of the time with my San Fran BFF’s Michael and John – this is us at the Bulleit Rye Launch in SF Spring 2011)
WRR 5. Is there anything that when you eat or drink- it brings a tear to your eye? Why? What reason?
The last time I cried over food was during a 10 fast and my next-door neighbor was baking chocolate cookies! Yet, every year when we have a Bulleit dinner at Antoine’s I get a little verklempt watching my father’s excitement over their baked Alaska made just for him. Whenever someone names a drink after me, it is always very special. These are particularly close to my heart; Lu Brow (at the Café Adelaide & The Swizzle Stick Bar of New Orleans) “The Mad Hatter” to me, Marvin Allen (the Bar Manager of the Hotel Monteleone made a drink called “The Happy Hollis”, and Josh Durr (co-founder of Hawthorn Beverage) created a “From Augustus to Hollis” cocktail.
Thank you Hollis not only for your friendship, but for sitting down and sharing your thoughts with my readers of the Five Questions! Cheers! wb
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Wild River Review/Wild Table editor, Warren Bobrow grew up on a Biodynamic farm in Morristown, NJ. A graduate of Emerson College in Boston- with a degree in Film, he spent his senior year of college as a research assistant in visual thinking. (Center for Advanced Visual Studies @ MIT)
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