Discussing his recent movie High Flying Bird, which was shot using an iPhone, Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Soderbergh – the auteur behind Sex Lies and Videotape, Traffic, Erin Brockovich and the Oceans franchise – compared shooting on traditional film to “writing in pencil”.
But that doesn’t mean he disrespects everything from antiquity: least of all a certain tipple, produced since the 16th century when South American monks stumbled across it when making sacramental wine, that he discovered while filming the two-part biopic Che in Bolivia.
Singani, the national spirit of Bolivia, is made from the Muscat of Alexandria grape and, over more than half a millennia, was never enjoyed outside of its country of origin – until recently. Soderbergh began importing it to the US purely for personal use, but – happily, for the rest of us – decided to share his secret shortly thereafter.
“I’ll always remember my first time [I tasted it],” recalls Soderbergh, who related the Singani narrative to Robb Report UK at a recent London event. “Its smoothness was like no other I had tasted. Singani hits the front and middle of your palate and then disappears. No aftertaste, no burn. It was magical.”
Soderbergh chose to partner with fourth generation distiller and Singani producer Casa Real in Tarija, Bolivia to produce Singani 63, named after the director’s year of birth, which is now available in more than half of the US, where it holds its own on the cocktail menus of some of urban America’s top bars and restaurants. Distributed in the UK by Distill Nation, Singani 63 will now be available in Britain’s more distinguished premises – not least the 30s-themed Manetta’s Bar at the Flemings Mayfair Hotel, where those asking for a Bolivian 63 will see bartenders mix Soderbergh’s product with fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, Champagne and a lemon twist.
Singani 63 will also be available to purchase at retail stores.