zane.JPG
I went to the filming of a drinking show and all I got was this fake cocktail.
Zane Lamprey drank his way around Seattle this

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Drinking Made Easy Is NOT Easy Without Alcohol

zane.JPG
I went to the filming of a drinking show and all I got was this fake cocktail.
Zane Lamprey drank his way around Seattle this week, filming for the second season of his cable-TV drinking show Drinking Made Easy, which airs on HDNet Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. He visited Pike Brewing, Zig Zag Café, Rob Roy, Sun Liquor and Distillery, and Liberty, to name a few. And ran to the top of the Space Needle. I caught up with Zane and the crew while they filmed at Sun Liquor and Distillery on Capitol Hill. Surprisingly, little alcohol was consumed. Not surprisingly, the booze that was drunk was done so by co-host Steve McKenna.

In Drinking Made Easy, Lamprey interviews bartenders, brewers, winemakers, and distillers around the country while injecting his own comedic commentary. Steve McKenna acts as Lamprey's stunt drinker. He is a bearded barfly in dark sunglasses who pounds the booze. Combined, the two make learning fun. If things start getting too academic, Lamprey slides a glass of something to McKenna (a man and a verb) for him to chug.

Lamprey's first drinking show, Three Sheets, ran on the now-defunct Mojo network before ping-ponging around cable for four seasons, ending in 2009. On Three Sheets, McKenna made only a few cameos, but was often referenced. Lamprey contends that every drinker has a friend like Steve McKenna: the one who drinks more than anyone else, maybe gets a little inappropriate, but is still a hell of a lot of fun. The official definition is Steve Mc-Kenn-a'd: inebriated to the point where one loses control of one's actions. Examples include: drunk dialing, streaking, etc. "Sorry I hit on your mom last night, I was Steve McKenna'd." Yup, you can get the slogan on a T-shirt.

I was a big fan of Three Sheets, and first got wind of Lamprey's swing through Seattle via Jessica Voelker on Seattle Met's Sauced Blog. Then, fellow Voracious blogger Julien Perry invited me and a handful of other folks over to Sun Liquor and Distilling Wednesday afternoon for the taping. Sign me up! Now, where did I put my Pleepleus sweatshirt?

When we arrived, Sun Liquor owner Michael Klebeck showed guests the still, while bartenders Chelsea and Cale mixed up a dozen or so cocktails. Sun Liquor's Hedge Trimmer Gin has received bottle and label approval, and is just waiting for the final green light before bottling. Lamprey and crew set up lights and cameras while McKenna got comfortable at the bar, sipping what I assumed was a cocktail.

When it was time to get the cameras rolling, we were all invited to grab a cocktail and a seat at the bar. I grabbed what looked like a Manhattan and took a seat next to McKenna. We were asked to look natural and have fun, like we'd normally do at a bar. The only difference--I soon found out--was that we were given PROP COCKTAILS. For the next hour or so while Lamprey mixed up cocktails with Cale and sent them over to McKenna to chug . . . the rest of us sipped our "cocktails." Mine tasted like a flat, diluted Coca-Cola. With a cherry in it.

Lamprey says the Seattle episode will be "a great one." He's impressed by the cocktail scene here, but less impressed with the weather. He added "Seattle is also a very important city in the craft-beer scene. Without Charlie Finkle over at Pike Brewing--who knows what would have happened with the craft-beer movement."

Drinking Made Easy doesn't exactly replace Three Sheets, which traveled the globe, visiting highfalutin drinking destinations like Scotland and Cognac, France. Thankfully, you can watch all past episodes of Three Sheets on Hulu. There were still plenty of boyish hijinks, like the adorable Pleepleus--a small stuffed toy monkey--who made cameos on occasion so Lamprey didn't have to drink alone. And the time Lamprey got a Frenchman to chug a glass of Champagne.

The 24 episodes in season one of Drinking Made Easy were filmed while Lamprey, McKenna, and occasional co-host Mark Ryan zigzagged the country with a "Drinking Made Easy" comedy tour. The comedy show was at the Paramount last Saturday. Filming for season two continues and will include 24 episodes, with Pacific Northwest cities Seattle, Spokane, and Vancouver, B.C., each getting their own show.

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