Albert Schmid has so many abbreviations following his name — 11 to be exact — he’s inspired me to reach for greatness. He’s chairman of beverage management at Sullivan University, and I recently met him at a book signing for his “Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook.” The book offers hundreds of recipes — both food and drink — that employ the use of my favorite nerve medicine, bourbon. I stayed after class, like the good student I am, and tried to score a few brownie points. Our discussion is below. If you have any questions of your own, he’ll be at Carmichael’s (2720 Frankfort Ave., 896-6950) on Thursday, June 17, at 7 p.m.
Bar Belle: Who did you have to out-drink at Sullivan to get your title?
Albert Schmid: I will never tell … I guess I am just lucky.
BB: Tell me something I don’t know about bourbon.
AS: Even though bourbon has been around since the birth of our nation, it took until 1964 for the U.S. Congress to declare bourbon a distinct product of the United States. Bourbon does not have to be made in Kentucky, but about 95 percent of it is.
BB: What’s your favorite liquor?
AS: Bourbon! When you live in Napa Valley, your favorite wine comes from Napa Valley. Kentucky is the Napa Valley of bourbon, if not whiskey. Part of the reason it’s my favorite is the people and culture that surround it.
BB: Do you think gin gets a bad rap?
AS: Without a doubt, gin gets a bad rap. Gin is a spirit of genius. What is NOT to like? A neutral grain spirit enhanced by spices and herbs — what else could a foodie want? The martini is made with gin, at least until James Bond mucked everything up.
BB: Does tequila make you mean?
AS: Uh … well … not me. I tend to get very mellow when I drink it. There are several myths regarding tequila (and mescal). Eating the worm, for example, makes people hallucinate. The last time I was in Mexico, I did a scientific study. I drank a bottle of mescal and ate the worm, nothing. Then I drank another bottle and ate the worm. My control on this study was small airline bottles. My conclusion is that the hallucinations come from the fifth of mescal, NOT the worms. I will say that alcohol affects people in different ways, but tequila is not the only spirit with a bad reputation.
BB: Is it true you take your classes on field trips to bars?
AS: Yes, we do! But don’t get too excited. When we visit bars, distilleries, wineries and breweries, most of the students are underage and can’t drink. We visit so students get a visual on what they are learning in the classroom and so they can ask the bartender or beverage maker questions about their jobs. These trips have inspired several students to continue their education to become brewers and winemakers.
BB: What’s your favorite bar in Louisville?
AS: Depends on what I am drinking. I like L&N for wine, BBC for beer and the Seelbach Bar for bourbon (I am a sucker for history).
BB: What’s your stance on Jagerbombs?
AS: I will give a politician’s answer — I understand why bars sell Jagerbombs, but they are not my favorite. Everyone has their favorite drink, and some people like Jagerbombs. Irish Car Bombs, on the other hand, are great. I highly recommend them.
BB: Why is bourbon easy to cook with?
AS: Bourbon has the perfect flavor profile to complement food. If fact, any recipe that calls for brandy can take bourbon instead with equal and sometimes superior results. My favorite example is Banana’s Foster with bourbon. I think the bourbon pairs well with the bananas, cinnamon and vanilla ice cream. The flavor of bourbon enhances the food.
BB: Do you need an assistant? I was a T.A. in college (just sayin’).
AS: Sure … if I have an opening, I will keep you in mind. But remember, it’s more about the business of beverage than the consumption of beverage.
Top of the Hops
Beer Fests are like Christmas to me, so this time of year I’m especially jolly. I’m still recovering from Keg Liquors’ Fest of Ale last weekend and am preparing for the Top of the Hops Fest, a traveling beer show that’s stopping at the Convention Center downtown on Saturday, June 19. I was a bit skeptical of an outside beer fest invading our fine city when we already have so many brewpubs of our own to enjoy, but I met with the dude putting it on, and he seems sincere and passionate about his love of beer. And he invited all of our brewpubs to the party.
Top of the Hops will feature more than 150 samples of craft brews, beer seminars and live music. Tickets are $40 in advance, or $45 at the door. And there are VIP tickets for $75 that get you in an hour early. For more info, go to www.topofthehopsbeerfest.com.
It just so happens that I have an extra pair of VIP tickets that I’m dying to give away. Write me a poem declaring your love of beer, and I’ll choose the one I like best. Send them to [email protected] by dawn’s early light on Wednesday, June 16.
Drunk Texts of the Week
•Saw this on bthrm wall at Sprng St: Make money. Fuck bitches. Smoke trees.
•Can nutz evaporate?
•John Locke is in my grill!
•Ur uterus wld be Disneyland 4 a fetus
•Ringo just hit on my bff!
•Im drinkn a jagerbomb evry day till oil is cleaned up!
Check out my daily reasons to drink at barbelle.leoweekly.com.