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Podcast Summary:

“Anyway, I’ll Drink to That” is a Boozn Sam’s production, exploring the fun, quirky, and fascinating tales of drinks (homemade sangria in this episode) that define culture, history and the world. Every drink has a story to tell, and I’m going to tell it…as true as I can. Hosted by Sam, from Boozn Sam’s. Saddle up with a good cocktail and give me a few minutes of your time for a mystery surrounding a drink that changed the world.

Episode 29 Notes:

The traveling Hank went around the world, only to find a secret summer treasure, in a remote place, an old man, and an island that had many secrets to share, including homemade sangria. 

Transcript of Podcast:

*This is the entire podcast episode in written form. Do not read if you want the audio version to be spoiled.

The water is blue today. A Hardware store $20 tarp blue color. And the only difference between the tarp and what moves before Hank is the diamonds shimmering across the surface as the wind ripples the water, which reflects the sun. Below his feet the sand is hot and he had to turn his feet on their edges to protect the soles from scalding. The sand is a fine silt and feels soft. Behind him, there is the tink, tink, tink of the cooling four wheeler engine. 

He’s dusty from zipping down dry roads on the island and speeding past hand built, stone stacked walls with reckless joy. The land was partitioned off by these simple stone walls, which were formed by men who had stacked blocks of stone on top of each other. They weren’t high, maybe knee height in some places to waist-high in others, but they served their purpose whether that was to keep animals in or mark off territory.

Hank zipped by them all. He liked to punch the throttle and hear the engine whine. See the trail of dust leap into the air and form a thin line like crop-dusters dusting fields of corn. This reckless abandon led Hank many places. It took him to a marble quarry where precious, famous marble is mined. It’s the same type of marble that was used in the statues throughout Athens. Or, in the temples and ancient ruins of that city. 

There are other wonders on the islands too. The butterfly house with native flowers and butterflies that smells like lavender and crisp, tree fruit. Hank was moving slow and quiet through the house, letting the butterflies circle around him and brush against his skin. Then dash away to the safety of flower petals and leaves. 

Beyond the butterfly house and the marble quarry, there is a winery with a handwritten “Wine and Liquor” sign in black paint. At first Hank couldn’t find the man. He turned to leave when we heard someone call him back. And there he was. An older Greek man, emerging from a nearby garage.  Following him into his small barn he cleared off two seats and took a seat himself.  

He was in his mid fifties and had spent his whole life in this house. His mother before him and her mother before her had owned the property.  When he was younger he had ventured off the Island and traveled around Europe. He went to school for engineering. He worked as a sailor. He worked in Spain. He traveled extensively.  

Eventually, he returned home to his simple life of working the land with his hands and turning the products of nature into products for consumption. He chain smoked and spoke in a combination of spanish, english and greek calling a church, iglesia and a beach, playa. He set out his honey liquor and kept talking. He had sunshine in his heart and he was determined to share it. 

His son left him. Moved to the mainland. He needed the city life, the vintner said. He needed the excitement. There was nothing he wanted here.

Hank looked around. The idea struck him as odd. This place to hold everything worth having and none of the things that were worth avoiding. There was no traffic. No fear of getting robbed or beaten. Derelict buildings were replaced with sunshine and fresh air instead of car exhaust. 

Hank liked the man. Hank also liked the honey liquor. So, Hank bought a bottle of white wine from the man and felt the sunshine in his heart. Then he stuffed the wine into his four wheeler and continued on. He road through the dusty switchbacks from one side of the island to the other and found an empty beach. This, was as good a place as any to enjoy a nice bottle of wine. A good bottle of wine is also made better by the people and place. That goes for a mediocre bottle of wine too. Come to think of it. The people and the moment, are just as important as the experience itself. 

So, that’s what drove Hank off of his four wheeler in the middle of the day and on to the beach. The beaches in Greece are different. Ungroomed. Sharp and pointy on the feet. You have to swing your arms for balance as stones jab at you. Hank looked like an ape in that moment. Picking his way through the hot, golden sand on the edges of his feet. Trying to avoid the sharp, jabbing pangs from the rocky beach. Swinging his arms for balance. The only thing missing was an “oooo”, “oooo”, “oooo!”

Whooshhhh!

Another wave crashes against the shore of the empty beach. Hank took a sip of the wine and reflected on his life. Most didn’t believe he lived this life. They thought he was lying. They couldn’t related to it so it couldn’t be true. 

But, a month ago it was St. Petersburg, Russia and then shooting big guns in Estonia. Two weeks ago it was Budapest seeing the travesties of socialism in a former soviet bloc country.  Today it’s the Greek islands for Hank, an area often described with clichés such as “sun-soaked” and “white-washed.” 

Days ago Hank left behind the busy city of Athens, its crowded streets, noisy cars and constant bustle for this little plot of sand he now sits on. Life on the islands is different, simpler. It’s made better by wine. 

And this wine tastes light like the carefree attitude of island life. It’s airy, like the wind blowing through you on a cliff overlooking the ocean. Soft and friendly, like the vintner’s smile. But, the wine also has hints of something more. It’s a perfect wine. A perfect summer sipper.

And it reminded Hank of the plants near the top of the island. They were green and very much alive but struggling against the heat and dry ground to grow big. They had that special quality of surviving, despite harsh conditions.  

They put down roots into the ground and latched on to the dry, hard ground with all their strength. They were not going anywhere. They would fulfill their purpose, even if these vines wouldn’t grow as tall or hardy as some of their other European siblings. They would adapt to the difficult conditions. They would grow in different ways, with their trunks winding in a circle around themselves as a way to protect the buds inside. They would share their grapes. They would bring joy, like they were bringing joy now to Hank. 

And in their taste they would also give hope. Because a good glass of wine can be the only thing that matters, at times. In truth, the rest of the things don’t matter. Nothing matters, in fact, but being in that moment. In that place, wherever that place is. With whoever you want to share that moment with.     

For Hank, right now this was the island of Paros, a place not claiming to have the best sunset in the world, or the lost city of Atlantis, but a place holding a silent confidence in its beaches, which line either side of the island, like a sandwich, with a great mountain in the middle.

A place where you can smell tropical flowers in the air, have butterflies brush your skin, and speak to a retired engineer who is staying young by keeping the sunshine in his heart, and sharing that sunshine with whoever stops by. 

It would actually be that sunshine which would inspire Hank over a decade later in a different way. A way that would create a product that could also give people that same sense of connection to the present moment and the joy of being there. 

It’s why Hank added lavender to his homemade sangria, as a reminder of those strong, tropical smells that inspired him all those years ago. As a way to transport other people to that same state of mind. To experience the best within them, by experiencing the best around them. Because, the fact is, that life is meant to be lived and the best way to live life is through experiences.

It’s why Hank, which was the pen name for me, Sam,

Decided to create Sam’s Sangria, a Greek inspired homemade sangria 

It was a selfish reason really. 

An inability to find a drink that could taste like the Greek Islands tasted.

An inability to find someone who had the experience, the years of travel, the work ethic, and the desire to actually create a drink that had some thought behind it. 

It’s a selfish reason really.

The desire to bring the sunshine to your heart, the way the retired engineer, turned vintner brought the sunshine to my heart.

It’s why I created Summer Sipper

A sugar free, lavender, orange and raspberry sangria kit that can make homemade quality sangria in 10 minutes and turn $10 wine into $100 dollar wine.

And bring you some sunshine… nay… some SAMshine.

Anyway, I’ll drink to that.