Patricio Cooker

Director Steven Soderbergh on his side hustle: importing a grape-based spirit from 6,000 feet up in the Bolivian Andes.


Ray Isle
February 08, 2018

BOLIVIAN BREAKTHROUGH


Back in 2007 at the start-up party for Che, our Bolivian casting director got me a bottle of singani. We cracked it, and after I tried it I kind of grabbed him by the lapels and said, “What is this stuff? You’ve got to put together a mule train to keep me supplied.”


GOVERNMENT ISSUES


We initially imported 250 cases [of singani]. About nine months later we got a call from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau: “We’ve noticed all these cases disappearing and they haven’t been sold, so what’s going on?” We had to explain: Steven’s been drinking it.


RESPECT THE CLASSICS


Whether it’s food or movies, you mess with a classic, you better know what you’re doing. It’s about expectation; if something’s altered in the primary DNA, you think, Why would you do that? If you’re going to have a pork chop on the menu, you gotta respect the pork chop.


HIS SENSE OF TASTE


It’s only since I moved to 
New York that my palate moved beyond that of a 9-year-old. Now 
I go to Tamarind Tribeca and 
order the vindaloo, which is just superhot, and I love it. 


FOOD ON SCREEN


It’s hard to make a good food movie. I think that the problem is that film is not smell-based. You don’t smell the onions hitting the pan. You’re missing the one thing that makes your body react, that makes your mouth water.


RESTAURANT OBSESSION


The Cheesecake Factory. I’m fascinated by the fact that they have the world’s largest menu and that I’ve never gotten anything there that I didn’t think was good. 


ULTIMATE COCKTAIL


A singani martini made with Cocchi 
Americano. It’s like gossamer. It just disappears. 
—interview by Ray Isle

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