In Praise of Thirsty Friends


Being “thirsty” means much more than the literal definition of “feeling a desire to drink” – being thirsty means being curious, eager to try new things, to learn about the origins and history of what you’re drinking, to track down the unfamiliar and noteworthy, whether in our own backyards here in the South or in far flung destinations. And being “thirsty” is a state best experienced with friends. Sure, one can sip a solitary Pappy Van Winkle all night long, but sharing with friends – that special Scotch, that beautiful bourbon, that remarkable wine – elevates the experience. Being “thirsty” is a state of connection to those who share our desire to experience the magic that can exist in a sip of something special.

Just last night, some friends invited us over and shared some treasures they had collected from across the continents of the earth – a lovely rum from Brazil, an imposing aquavit from Iceland, a confounding concoction that is nearly ubiquitous in Budapest but practically unheard of here in the States, several other strange and striking tastes of other cultures. Friends like these, thirsty friends, have the ability to inspire and enlighten, to both quench and increase our thirst for experiencing excellence in its many forms. Every bottle offers a story, a chance at adventure. Fredric Koeppel, an accomplished wine writer in Memphis, penned a wonderful rumination on the importance of thirsty friends, and thirsty mentors in particular. While most of us may not have the privilege of a mentor like the one Mr. Koeppel had, we should still be appreciative of those friends who enter our lives who do share a thirst for something remarkable. And we should seek to return the favor, in whatever manner we can. Whether it’s a $3 bottle of Chinese white lightnin’ or a $300 bottle of vintage Champagne, it’s the act of sharing itself that provides the greatest value.

So, to our friends who have shared Burgundy and Black Maple Hill, microbrews and brandy, thank you, for being thirsty, and for being a friend. Cheers.

Pictured in the photo at the top of the page: unknown Chinese spirit, Brennivin aquavit from Iceland (known as Black Death), Zwack Unicum from Hungary, forest fruit liqueur from Transylvania, Zwack St. Hubertus liqueur from Hungary. In the background: Oronoco rum from Brazil, alongside Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot Liqueur. And some Maker’s Mark somehow found its way into the photo as well : )

4 Replies to “In Praise of Thirsty Friends”

  1. Great article. I knew Big John casually, but knew Shields Hoods quite well. When first exploring wines, Shields was an invaluable and fun friend and educator. I’ll now look to Thirsty South to advance my education.

  2. I’m eager to try Brennivin someday.

    I’ve know many who will thankfully take a drink, but there’s definitely a distinction with the “thirsty” folks; those for whom the drink in question creates conversation itself. Of course, a few drinks always facilitate chatter, but when the chatter is centered around the source itself…that’s a wonderful thing (at least for us geeks).

Comments welcome, y'all!