Inside The Stay: Booze Traveler Jack Maxwell on Hotel Bars and Where to Drink in 2018

By Joe Baur,

Inside The Stay is Room5’s Q&A series, seeking to get the scoop from some of the world’s most well-traveled personalities and experts on their particular passion and what they look for in their ideal hotel stay.

If there’s a glass, a cup, a snifter full of booze, you can bet that Jack Maxwell will savor it and dive into its story. Jack has been traveling the world, exploring different national and international drinking customs as the host of Travel Channel’s Booze Traveler. Season four is set to premiere on Monday, December 18 at 10 p.m. EST with 16 episodes taking viewers across the U.S., Europe, the Caribbean and beyond.

He joins Room5 tell us how he got into the world of alcohol, how important the hotel bar is to him, and where you should be drinking in 2018.

Jack Maxwell Booze Traveler Boston

Room5Your television personality combines two of everybody’s favorite things — booze and travel. How did you get this dream job?

Jack Maxwell The short answer? I auditioned. The not-so-short? I grew up shining shoes in the pubs and dive bars of South Boston. That helped me understand the culture of alcohol and drinking at a young age. Especially as it relates to travel, adventure, and storytelling.

R5 You’ve been working since your shoe-shining days as a kid in Boston pubs. What was that like?

JM Looking back, it seems strange that a 9 or 10-year-old kid would be traipsing through barrooms with a shoeshine box looking to make a quarter. Walked right past cops and everything. Nobody said a peep. It’s just how we did things in that neighborhood.

R5 Most people can point to a family road trip that started their interest in travel. But your niche is, generally speaking, for the 21 and up crowd. What is it about booze combined with travel that grabs your interest?

JM Travel should be fun. A celebration. It’s a visual, aesthetic, auditory, and tactile discovery. Stopping along the way to imbibe the local libations can enhance that.

R5 Do you remember your first good drink?

JM Only the first several bad ones.

Shelf of Alcohol

Moss Photography, Unsplash

R5 On your show, you’re experiencing different alcohol-based customs. Could you tell us about one that sticks out in your memory?

JM First one pops that into my mind? There were ghost-catching, fully-costumed and made-up, dancing bodyguards in front of a temple in Taipei, who drank French brandy while protecting the deity who resides there. Part of the job, I guess. I can relate. Sort of.

R5 Some people might think of alcohol being solely a celebratory drink. How else have you seen it used in your travels?

JM More often than not, around the world alcohol is handled with reverence. It brings people closer to their god or gods, shows respect for the dead and ancestors of their family, and is used to create a transcendent spiritual experience.

R5 What are some of your go-to drinks for different occasions?

JM Love a cold, refreshing mojito or caipirinha when it’s hot out. Never turn down a good single malt scotch. Starting to get more into vermouth. Really depends on who I’m with and what I’m doing though.

Whisky

Adam Jaime, Unsplash

R5 We know to go to Kentucky for bourbon, Tennessee for moonshine, Scotland for whiskey, Japan for sake. What’s something unique that you’ve uncovered that you’d recommend readers checking out in 2018?

JM You’re right. Cliché locations for alcohol are being busted wide open. Japan makes some of the best scotch-like whiskey in the world now. New Zealand is killing it with white wines. Scotland is making great gin. You can find exceptional, world-beater wines made right here in the U.S.

R5 We hear that alcohol is bad for jetlag. But it’s kinda your job to get on a plane and start thinking about booze. Does drinking play any role in your flying and arrival ritual?

JM Not really. I’ll have a drink when I feel like one, traveling or otherwise. Never feel like I need one. To me, it’s always tied to an experience. I’ve seen nervous flyers pop quite a few of those mini bottles of booze, though.

Hotel Bar

Sarah Götze, Unsplash

R5 How important is the hotel bar for you when picking a hotel? Or are you more concerned with proximity to different breweries and bars?

JM It’s not that the hotel bar is important, it’s how much they care when stocking their product and making drinks. Happy to say, there are hotel bars around the world that have some of the best alcohol and preparers on the planet. It’s a bonus if a hotel is conveniently located. Much more important that it’s comfortable, safe, and has a knowledgeable and polite staff.

Oh, and a good mini bar.

R5 Would you mind leaving us with a walk through your favorite hotel from all your travels?

JM I’m different from most in that I’ve been able to stay not just in nice hotels but truly exotic locations that have left me with the experience of a lifetime. One that comes to mind is my stay on Motu Moute [near Tahaa] in Tahiti. La Pirogue Api. Had the whole island to myself. I mean everything. Could walk into the kitchen anytime and have the chef make me whatever I wanted. Including cocktails. Actually, I made him a few. It was a good barter system we set up.

Want to be your own booze traveler? Keep scrolling for our look at cocktail, craft beer, wine, and whisky destinations and the hotels to match.