Lance Winters, St. George Spirits
In the culinary world, many of the people making things, and many of the people consuming things, are chasing memory. It could be granny’s Sunday lunch or a specific time or a specific experience or place, but it’s always a chase, because food and beverage can’t replicate memory, nothing can, it can only be a doorway to an edge of something familiar you can’t name. That’s what amaro is for me, those bottles of bitter Italian liqueurs that once sat dusty at the back of a bar and are now one of the hottest categories in spirits. At its best, amaro is weird in a wonderful way and reminds me of old dusty bookshops and overgrown gardens behind abandoned houses, deep corners and quiet places and faded photographs -- the feeling of things I use to come across when I researched folklore and ghost stories. Somehow this spirit triggers that for me, like an open switch, and Bruto Americano by St. George Spirits is one of my favorites. Lance Winters is the Master Distiller of St. George and the man who created Bruto, and his inspiration was light years away from my experience, but still, like an artist and a patron, we met in the middle and had a great discussion during BevCon. If this is all a little too lofty and esoteric, then take heart: I misuse the Italian plural of the spirit category immediately after Lance compliments me about it, we are chatting in a hotel room while his wife Ellie perches on the bed and listens in, and we share an amaro in a coffee cup. It’s a fancy but no so fancy discussion about inspiration, creation, and appreciation.