On the recommendation of Paul Clarke over at Cocktail Chronicles, I sauntered over in an allergy-infused delirium to Barnes and Noble to snag the premiere issue of Imbibe. It took me a second to find it tucked away on the top shelf amongst a plethora of beer brewing and wine enthusiast-type magazines, but once in my hands, I knew I carried a gem. Flipping through, it was easy to see the quality and effort that went into its production. The pages even seemed stockier than your typical magazine.
The middle-aged lady at the register who had previously been helping me find fitness videos smirked when she saw what I had in my hands. I informed her that, indeed, the fitness videos were not for me. She leafed through the magazine as she rang it up, and like some strange, misty cutscene in a movie, she started talking to me like I was her friend of twenty years.
“I haven’t seen this one before – a magazine about cocktails?” Her light gray hair was cut short, and she lifted her glasses as she continued to flip through. “You know, my husband is retired now, and guess what he did?” I’m concentrating feverishly, as I know I’ll be recording every word of this later. “He became a bartender.” Curious, as we have a grand total of zero good bars in town, as it is infested by college students, she tells me that he works for a private club in a town about fifteen minutes from here. She rang me up, and I left with a smile. It’s amazing how food and drink bring people together. The lady could have rung me up without a word, but something made her divulge that personal piece of information. Maybe she caught a glimpse of happiness through my allergy laden, bloodshot eyes or maybe it was the joke about the fitness videos. I’ll never know, but I’d bet without Imbibe in my hands, she wouldn’t have given me more than a smile.
Now enough Mr. Happytime story – let’s dive in.
I am met with the list of features on page 4, something nearly unheard of in magazines anymore. By the time I reach the table of contents, I’m accustomed to ripping out several cardboard inserts, ignoring at least three full-spread car advertisements, and sifting through credits in a font so small I’d need a magnifying glass if I cared to read them. The features:
- Destination Oaxaca
- Twelve Great Hotel Bars
- Organic Wine Comes Alive
- Coffee’s Third Wave
- Seven (Church-Approved) Sins
Mostly cookie-cutter titles except for the last one. The short takes on each article, which aren’t more than a sentence long, are fairly lackluster as well, except again for the one on Trappist ales.
Moving on, Departments are listed. Immediately, words start jumping out at me: “uncorked,” “distilled,” “gear,” “elements,” “characters,” and “taste test.” Now we’re getting somewhere. On the facing page is a list of recipes in the issue. The list looks fairly full, and I move on, eager to find out what’s inside.
Karen, Editor-in-Chief, starts us off with a very motivational editor’s note. The whole thing lays out the path of the magazine right in front of you – and it’s a grand quest. Their about page on their website summarizes the editor’s note, but it’s well worth your time to pick up the magazine and read it. If Karen doesn’t make you either rush to the register or read the entire magazine on the spot, then I don’t know what will.
I have a feeling I could keep writing about Imbibe, both the good and the bad, until I’ve written more than is contained in the magazine, and well more than you’d like to read in one post. So I’ll leave you with two points that Paul doesn’t mention in his post on imbibe. First, he was a contributor to the magazine, writing up an engaging article on Dr. Cocktail (well, he mentioned this, but not loudly enough). And secondly, I have never in my life seen so much variety of liquor in a home bar as the pictures of Ted Haigh’s cabinet(s) show. I thought I had a lot, but I’d be lucky if I had even one shelf’s worth compared to his insane collection.
Hopefully soon, I’ll be diving deeper into the magazine and posting my thoughts on Kaiser Penguin, but probably not before I subscribe.