When you think about it, there aren’t too many things that are universal across just about every culture on earth. There’s the smile, there’s the need for food and shelter… and there’s the quest to take the edge off after a hard days’ work. Jack Maxwell is the host of Booze Traveler, which just returned for its second season on Travel Channel (where it airs Tuesdays at 10, 9 Central), and in traveling the world on a quest to sample its finest libations, he’s discovered that the power of alcohol transcends just the desire to just catch a buzz.
“You can always think that you have an idea of what a place is like before you travel there, but when you arrive it’s always such a wonderful surprise to discover that it’s not at all what you were expecting,” Maxwell, who grew up shining shoes in the barrooms of South Boston, told us. “You find out that we have so much more in common that we think; We all love family and friends, and we all like to take the edge off. Across nearly all civilizations going back thousands of years, everyone has enjoyed drinking, and they’ve all developed their own unique drinks and customs.”
Among the unique beverages that Maxwell uncovers this season are retsina in Greece (white wine with the flavor of pine tar, Maxwell explains, because the wine vessels were historically sealed with tar to keep it from spoiling), Pisco in Peru, Koskenkorva Viina in Finland, caldo de frutas in Guatemala, and mulled wine in Patagonia. “A lot of people drink what they’re used to, what their ancestors did,” Maxwell added.
It’s clear from speaking with Maxwell that the goal of the show is to examine different cultures through the lens of what they like to imbibe, not to just show a globetrotting Maxwell drinking booze in a void. “We’re learning about people and cultures more than anything else,” he said. “It’s about drink, not drinking.”