The Batali Inquisition: Julian Van Winkle

The president of Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery relaxes like a third-generation whiskey man should: with a cocktail in hand

When is your favorite time of day?

When I get home from the office and settle down for a cocktail. Just seems right.

Where do you sleep best?

We’ve got a little cabin in the woods on a lake south of Louisville. I don’t know what it is about that bed, but I sleep like a log when I’m there.

What is the best way to recharge your batteries?

Just get away from town and go to our cabin or up to our house in North Michigan.

Where is your energy most successfully applied?

I enjoy getting creative when coming up with a new package or working on an idea for a special bottling of our whiskey.

Where do you waste the most energy?

Unfortunately, decompressing at night watching the boob tube! I can be very lazy at times.

When are you most depleted?

After tax season. I hate getting together all those figures for Uncle Sam.

What is the last thing you ate?

Some chicken salad and seafood salad for lunch today.

When are you hungry?

Most often when I get home from work.

What was the last thing you cooked?

Grilled chicken for a salad. I love to grill because that’s the only cooking I know how to do.

If you were a food, what would you be?

Bacon. It’s my favorite thing to eat.

Describe the perfect meal, what and where?

Outside on our porch on a cool summer night in Michigan with friends and family. My wife and kids are great cooks, so whatever they come up with, and some great wine. I love wine!

What is your favorite Olympic event?

Wow. That’s a random question. How about track and field? I was a pole vaulter in high school and really enjoyed it. Fifteen hundred-meter relay is the best!

What was the last live performance you saw?

The Book of Mormon. Absolutely one of the best things I’ve ever seen.

With which artist of all time do you most identify?

Any good drummer/percussionist. I am a frustrated drummer and cowbell player.

Who is your favorite literary character?


What is your favorite method of travel?

Sailboat for short distances. And if I ever get to sit up front on a plane, that would be nice.

What is your favorite vacation spot?

Our house in Michigan…beautiful.

Where would you live if you could live anywhere?

I think Italy, except I would weigh 300 pounds because I love the food there.

What food do you want served at your funeral?

Don’t really care what food is there but I do want Vince Gill to come sing “Go rest high on that mountain.”

What is your favorite luxury?

Well, I think saving enough money to finally be able to build our family vacation house in Michigan.

Bonus Question: Where and when do you have your favorite cocktail, and what is it??

Click here for Julian Van Winkle’s answer (and the recipe!).

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