What’s shakin, cocktail fans? Welcome to Episode 241 of The Modern Bar Cart Podcast!
This time around, I’m joined by Jackie Summers (on Instagram @theliquortarian), founder of Sorel Liqueur, an award-winning product that’s been taking the country by storm during the last several years. If you’re into spirits and cocktails, you’ve definitely seen this product at your favorite bar, or on your Instagram feed (@SorelOfficial). But the story of Sorel isn’t merely one of rapid growth and business success: it’s the story of a cultural memory, transmitted across time and space.
In this wide-ranging conversation with Jackie Summers, creator of Sorel, some of the topics we discuss include:
- How Jackie has led a life of continuous transformation on his way to creating Sorel: battling a spinal tumor, leaving a successful corporate career, and becoming America’s first black distiller since Prohibition.
- The intriguing wellness and flavor properties of hibiscus, which has more vitamin C than most citrus fruit, but that can be problematic as a single-note flavor.
- Why it took hundreds of test batches and experiments to perfect this product, which comes to us as the result of centuries of stolen bodies, stolen spices, and a resilient oral tradition that sings at the genetic level.
- The difference between “Sorrel,” the drink and “Sorel” the brand, by way of some apt wisdom from Jackie’s childhood speech coach.
- Along the way, we cover the terroir of North African Hibiscus, why liquor years are like dog years, what to drink with the philosopher who went toe-to-toe with Machiavelli, and much, much more.
So many products we see on liquor store shelves cross an ocean to get here. But unlike the West African slaves that carried the epigenetic memory of The Red Drink to the Americas and passed its secrets orally down through the generations, most of those foreign bottles aren’t forced onto a cargo ship against their will.
This conversation with Jackie is revelatory in so many different ways – not only as a retrospective on hundreds of years of hard history, but as a temperature check that shows us where we’re headed. We hope it sheds some new light and perspective on how you drink and perhaps encourages you to seek out the ancestral flavor memories that are braided into your own DNA. Until then, pick up your own bottle of Sorel wherever fine spirits are sold, or order from ReserveBar.com.