Director Steven Soderbergh on his side hustle: importing a grape-based spirit from 6,000 feet up in the Bolivian Andes.
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.”
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.
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.
A singani martini made with Cocchi Americano. It’s like gossamer. It just disappears. —interview by Ray Isle