Anthony Bourdain's Rule for Drinking Whiskey with Ice
The 'Parts Unknown' host stopped by writer Dan Dunn's podcast Drinky Fun Time to talk fine liquor.
Anthony Bourdain is a free spirit in the most serious sense of the phrase: He travels wherever he wants, no matter how dangerous. He speaks his mind about food trends, no matter how popular they are. When it comes to drinking whiskey, his attitude is no different: He’ll enjoy it however he wants, no matter what people might think of him for it.
Bourdain got into the topic by recalling an incident on his recent trip to Antarctica: When he and his crew stopped for a drink on the ice, one of the guides dropped a chunk of thousand-year-old glacier in his glass.
“The ice I just put in your drink is like thousands of years older than even the idea of whiskey,” Bourdain recalled the guide explaining.
However, Bourdain doesn't need a chunk of one of Earth’s oldest natural wonders as an excuse to water down his whiskey. He’s actually much more open to dropping a couple pieces of ice in his glass than you might think.
“I'm sure many people don't like when I say it, but unless it's something really, you know, rare and high-end like this, I'll put a rock or two in,” he admitted. “It seems to open it up a little in a way I like.”
Whiskey purists might be scandalized by notion that Bourdain could so easy sully a good whiskey with ice, but his rule does have some limitations: Any whiskey less than 23 years old gets a cube of ice. For spirits older than that, he shows a little more respect.
“For recreational, sitting by myself at the bar listening to Tom Waits, I'd be drinking this with a rock in it,” Bourdain told Dunn, apparently impervious to opinions of the liquor connoisseurs who are sure to balk at such a proclamation. The consesus among professional whiskey drinkers, by the way, is that adding ice to the drink inhibits the flavors by dropping the temperature of the liquor, making it taste "dull and flat."
Bourdain has never had a problem voicing unpopular opinions (he recently took down the notion of “manly” foods) but he might have stumbled on something his fans can relate to. Maybe his admission that even he, such an accomplished figure in the food world, puts ice in his whiskey will give people—whether they’re just getting into the spirit for the first time, or like to dilute the strong taste with a little water—permission to relax their standards when it comes to drinking this much-obsessed over spirit.