Liquid Diet: Culinary MC and Beverage Guru Billy Harris Pounds Water on Flights and Polishes off Evenings with Aperol Spritzes (What Else?)
The jet-setting auctioneer is no stranger to bottomless spritzes and doubling up on dinner, but he relishes his go-to sushi joint and never drinks booze onboard, even though he flies almost every day.
In our series, Liquid Diet, a professional drinker journals every sip of one beverage-packed week. Here, acclaimed culinary MC, auctioneer, and beverage guru Billy Harris, host of the Billy Harris Dinner Series, documents a week of celebrity-driven dinner parties around the country, all while raising millions of dollars to support causes like Feed the Children, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, and more. Escapades include morning coffee rituals, lots of Just Water on almost-daily flights around the country, hefty pours of Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon with chef Curtis Stone, hot saké at Katsuya Restaurant in Studio City, L.A., a Canary Island Rosado and Aperol spritzes in Philadelphia.
Monday — Home in Los Angeles, California
6:00 a.m. Peet’s Coffee French Roast at my home in Los Angeles. When I’m home, I only drink Peet’s. Love the bold French Roast….super strong and does the job. But for some reason, on the road I have a red-eye at Starbucks.
11:00 a.m. After spinning at Flywheel, I had a Kreation Juice—Coconut Milk, Mango, Banana and Whey Powder—on Larchmont in L.A. When I’m home in L.A., I spin three days a week.
5:00 p.m. Hanging with Chef Curtis Stone—drank lots of delicious Silver Oak. This was our 36th dinner of the Billy Harris Dinner Series, sponsored by our friends at Inside Access from Chase. We also did an auction and raised a few bucks for Adopt Together—a charity that Curtis supports. We drank: 2016 Twomey Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 2013 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet, and 2013 Silver Oak Napa Valley Cabernet. All three wines were just gorgeous, and the Cabs stole the show. Richly layered, black and red fruit profile, and that characteristic beautiful oak spice. Just knockouts.
Tuesday — Off to Austin, Texas
6:00 a.m. Peet’s Coffee French Roast at my home in Los Angeles.
11:30 a.m. Flight to Austin, TX. Just drank water, no ice. I worked for the entire flight, as I’m managing almost 100 events a year, so it never really ends! Also had five events in five cities that week: Austin, Philly, Miami, Chicago and D.C.
5:00 p.m. At Olamaie restaurant in San Antonio, TX for Feed the Children Gala with Michael Fojtasek. Drank delicious white wines—Lieu Dit Cab Franc and Lieu Dit Mélon! These are killer wines by Eric Railsback, so brilliantly Old World in style, refined, balanced, with pure flavors and just fun to drink, especially the white with oysters.
Wednesday — Back to Los Angeles
7:00 a.m. Starbucks in the hotel with an extra shot.
1:30 p.m. Flight home to L.A., drank bottled Dasani water, no ice.
6:30 p.m. At Caroline Styne’s James Beard Part, enjoyed a 2016 Storm Wines Sauvignon Blanc, crisp, with tropical fruit flavors. Twenty years ago, at the opening of Caroline’s Lucques restaurant in L.A., I was my there with my wife—it was our first date! Styne and Suzanne Goin have been friends for 20 years. I was sitting behind them at this year’s James Beard Awards. I popped in and out, chatted with Caroline and Suzanne and a few other friends, all while filling up on Storm—and lots of bottled water.
6:00 a.m. Peet’s Coffee at home—the usual with half and half. I stopped putting sugar in my coffee three years ago after 30 years with sugar—thanks to Seamus Mullen!
10:45 a.m. Bottled water at my meeting with Will Smith’s team for an upcoming event. Not just any bottled water—Will and Jaden Smith’s eco-friendly water company Just Water. Great packaging, cold, crisp and refreshing!
7:30 p.m. Good old L.A. tap water over sushi dinner at Katsuya Restaurant in Studio City with my daughter, Georgie, who is 12. She just started eating sushi this year and it’s her favorite thing ever, especially the salmon roe sushi, and that place is the best. She’s been coming here since she was six months old. Enjoy a hot saki and a cold Sapporo.
Friday — Flight to Philadelphia
6:00 a.m. Peet’s Coffee at home—the usual with half and half.
8:30 a.m. Flying to Philly for Alex’s Lemonade Gala. I only fly Delta, always first class. Feeling myself dragging with this schedule so had some of the Starbucks in the Delta Skyclub...it hit the spot. I’m Diamond status with three million miles—and although Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson has chosen some delicious Spanish, French, and Chilean reds and whites for Delta flights, I don’t drink alcohol on any plane (because I have to work, work, work). This is my tenth year doing the auction for Alex’s Lemonade Stand—we’ve probably raised between five and 10 million dollars for them over the past decade.
7:30 p.m. Aperol Spritz at Zahav with chefs Marc Vetri, Chris Bianco, Bruce Kalman. Zahav is one of the best restaurants anywhere in the world—we just shot the shit about life and food and politics. I did bust Bianco’s balls about scheduling a date for a dinner at his new joint in L.A., but they’re still under construction.
2:00 p.m. Bottled water all day for Alex’s Lemonade Great Chefs Event at the Urban Outfitter Corporate Office, which is in the old Naval Yards. It's one of the very best events of the year. One thousand people there and about 50 chefs. It was hot and humid in Philly, so I drank more water than was probably okay. They also had San Pellegrino Lemon, which fits the theme of the day being the Lemon Ball.
8:00 p.m. The heat and humidity called for rosé. We had 2016 Bermejos Lanzarote Rosado of Listán Negro from the Canary Islands—incredible flavors or grapefruit zest, blood orange, dried herbs and minerality. We also enjoy bottomless Aperol spritzes. All consumed during a dinner with Abe Fisher and Vernick chefs, and also Chris Cosentino and Michael Schlow. We actually had two dinners—one at Abe Fisher, with more fabulous Israeli cuisine from Mike Solomonov, and then over to Greg Vernick's joint. I had never been before and it is amazing. Also, Michael Schwartz from Miami and his team joined us as well. The best part of these chef events is at night time you have 50 chefs and their teams running all over these cities trying everyone’s restaurants.
Sunday — Flight to Miami and then to Los Angeles
7:30 a.m. Flight to Miami for Cochon555. Starbucks coffee at the airport with an extra shot. Since I have so many events all year, most of the time I have to fly in the morning of the event. More water on Delta and water for all 10 hours I was in Miami! Then, flight home to L.A. that night. Living the dream!!
Monday — Home in Los Angeles
7:00 a.m. Peet’s Coffee French Roast at my home in Los Angeles.
5:00 p.m. Back to Sushi Katsuya—it’s a tradition before we head to Umbria for a much-needed family vacay…more hot saké and cold Sapporo for an early dinner. We leave for Italy the next day for a month to our little house in Umbria!