Steven Soderbergh’s Seven Year Quest To Bring a Bolivian Spirit to the U.S.


Usually with celebrity endorsed spirits, a liquor company throws a bunch of cash at the star and said star then appears in their commercials making the drinking of it look so good. See: Mila Kunis, Kiefer Sutherland, Christina Hendricks. But Director Steven Soderbergh (Magic Mike, Erin Brockovich) is such a visionary that he got involved with Singani 63 even before it arrived in the United States. In fact it’s thanks to him that this Bolivian spirit is even in America now.

Singani is a nearly 500-year-old eau de vie that’s distilled from the white muscat of Alexandria grape grown in the Andes. And even though it has long been considered the national spirit of Bolivia, no one knows about it outside of the country. Soderbergh first encountered and subsequently fell in love with this clean and shimmery spirit when he was filming his biopic Che in Bolivia in 2008. It didn’t help that everyone involved in his film also got hooked on the spirit and goaded the director to bring it to the States.

However, not being too familiar with how the booze industry works, or the U.S. government for that matter, he had no idea what he was getting into when he made it his goal to bust the spirit out of Bolivia. It wasn’t til after he had already brought in 250 cases that he finally met with a brand manager in New York who schooled him for two hours about what was involved in launching a spirit in the U.S.

“If I hadn’t already at that point had 250 cases sitting in Jersey I’m telling you right now I would have said it’s not worth it, it’s not going to happen. I had no idea what I was up against,” says Soderbergh during a special K&L Wine dinner at Delphine celebrating Singani 63. “I really thought, ‘Oh, it’s good. I like it. I’ll just call some friends of mine that have bars…That’s how naive I was.”

But his passion for the spirit and belief that it was something so unique that needed to be shared with the rest of the world motivated him to keep pushing through for seven years despite the road blocks he experienced along the way.

Fast-forward to now and Singani 63 has been collecting accolades like a gold medal from the Craft Competition International Awards, a silver medal from the New York International Spirits Competition, and another silver from the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition.

If you want to try out Singani 63 in a cocktail, Pour Vous on Melrose features it in a summer cocktail, Le Papillon, which mixes the 80-proof spirit with lime juice, orgeat, muddled grapes, and Giffard Crème de Cassis. Or pick up a bottle at K&L Wine in Hollywood for $29.99.