Zane Lamprey has a reputation to uphold. As a host of shows like SpikeTV’s Three Sheets, Drinking Made Easy on HDNet, and the new Chug, he's expected to partake in parties. That's why even he was surprised to be feeling good when we talked to him on the morning after Chug's premiere party. The show debuts on Monday night at 10:30 p.m. on NatGeo and is the first program to be funded via Kickstarter, where he raised $600,000. Here, we talked to Zane about the challenges of drinking in certain parts of the world and what could be one of the great fashion statements of the coming year—his self-designed “Drinking Jacket”
What’s the wildest thing you've ever imbibed?
Toddy. Toddy is the most rudimentary example of fermentation I’ve ever had. People tap the stalks of a toddy palm tree and put a bucket on the end of a stalk. They leave it overnight and collect it in the morning full of nectar. The naturally occurring yeast in the air eats the sugar and turns it into alcohol overnight. In one day it gets to 4 to 5% alcohol. Then they chill it, which stops the fermentation, filter the bees and flies out and then serve it.
Where do you find it?
Malaysia. What’s interesting about Malaysia is that it is a cultural and religious melting pot and most of those religions frown on drinking. I think there was a plot to destroy a brewery not long ago that was stopped. My wife, who is also the show’s producer, said she got off the phone with our fixer (a local who helps arrange travel, translate, etc.) who recommended places in the city to drink. It was three hotel bars and a TGI Fridays. We had to go a good hour outside the city to a toddy shop that was really just somebody’s house with a few plastic tables and chairs. They cooked me up some monitor lizard and that was my toddy experience.
What’s the most amazing thing that happened to you while drinking in the series?
On the show I’m really going for genuine local experiences. Like in Vienna, I went to a hueriger. Huerigers are like huts put up in the middle of a vineyard where you can just go drink wine. And the wine was just red or white—specific grapes weren’t important—and they mix it with soda water, like a spritzer. You sit there and take in the wine and the view. I met a guy who was in the middle of an epiphany—he grew up in Austria and moved to Germany and we were just talking and he started to cry about how much he missed Vienna. Sitting on this hill made all these emotions come out. Alcohol is just a social lubricant. A few drinks and people are so happy to share their culture and their lives with you.
What are your tips for finding local experiences?
If someone wanted to go on a drink-cation, I would fly into central Europe and head out from there. Europe is about the same size as the United States, but because of all the languages and the ages of their borders, their cultures have developed so independently of one another. It’s so easy, on one trip to go to France, Germany, Belgium, Italy and have experiences with very unique drinking cultures.
You take trains all around in the show. Are there challenges to so much train travel?
Yeah, they don’t wait for you. One day we shot a scene with Conrad Seidl who is like the self-appointed beer pope of Vienna. The next day we were on a high-speed rail out of Vienna and Steve McKenna, who appears in a few episodes with me, was sleeping it off in a different car. We got off the train but Steve woke up in Slovakia.
How did you come up with the Drinking Jacket now on Kickstarter?
It was an evolution. First I just thought it would be cool to have zipper that was a bottle opener. Then a little later I asked the manufacturer if we could put neoprene in the pocket and make it a koozie. From there I just started adding more—the drinking gloves, the flask pocket. The sunglasses holder is big for me because day drinking turns into night drinking and I needed a place to put them that wasn’t a pocket or I’d forget them and accidentally crush them.
What’s the best place to wear the drinking jacket
I had a friend who is a football player tell me it’s the perfect tailgating jacket. I’m not condoning sneaking flasks into a stadium, but the flask is metal detector proof and the pocket for it is hidden.
NOTE: If you were one of the 8,177 people who contributed to the Chug Kickstarter, be on the lookout for an easter egg or two. Zane’s a big fan of moments hidden within episodes and he’s including one as shout out to you all. And if you want a drinking jacket, you can contribute to his new crowd-funding campaign, which is well on its way to hitting its goal.