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15 Minutes with Brandon Plyler & Jayce McConnell

15 Minutes with Brandon Plyler & Jayce McConnell
March 2019

The duo behind the Pocket Liquor podcast serve up a spirited talk on all things libations

CM: Tell us about who you are and what you do.
I am an Advanced Cicerone (aka beer professional). I handle the beer buying and education for both Edmund’s Oast restaurant and Edmund’s Oast Exchange. I do all sorts of glorious brewery operations work up here at Edmund’s Oast Brewery, too. I’ve been with the EO team for 10 years.
JM: I am the bar manager of Edmund’s Oast restaurant. I’m in charge of bar staff, spirits, and cocktails, and general bar day-to-day. I’ve been with the restaurant since we opened in 2014.

CM: How did your podcast Pocket Liquor come about?
We’re both very much into podcasts and history. But when it came to starting our own podcast, we didn’t want this to be just for and by beverage professionals. There are plenty of those out there already; they’re good, too. But we wanted to do something very approachable; to offer practical info to use at home. Like what you can actually find at the store that’s always solid and consistent and tasty. I’m not trying to impress my bartender friends with my knowledge. A lot of them probably know more than I do, so this is more for the general consumer.
BP: One of our recurring themes on the podcast is the “terrifying booze term.” We take a term that seems terrifying, like “dry-hopping” for beer or “bottled-in-bond” for whiskey, and give people some good knowledge on it, so they can say, “Oh, okay, this isn’t as scary as I thought it was. I can have a little more fun with this. I can explore and try new things.”
JM: We’re just trying to explain stuff in non-sommelier, non-mixologist, non-cicerone terms.
BP: I recently read an article online with all these fancy bartenders talking about their favorite bourbons that are impossible to get. You can go to a restaurant and maybe pay 30 bucks an ounce, but that’s not practical behavior, or useful information. That whole article was a waste of time to read.
JM: I’m sure they want to seem cool, like they have access to this rare stuff.
BP: Well, no bartender wants to say, “Here’s this super affordable and approachable and easy-to-get whiskey that’s my favorite,” even though those are all totally legitimate reasons to fall in love with a bottle of whiskey.
JM: I mean, honestly, even if I could, I wouldn’t want to drink a Pappy Van Winkle 15-year every day. No, I’d drink Evan Williams White Label every day instead.

CM: It loses its specialness if you drink it every day, right?
JM: Not to me, I love it [laughing].

CM: So what kind of drinkers are you?
I don’t know if we coined it or not, but “omni-imbibious” is kind of what we go for. We drink everything.

CM: What is it about Underberg bitters with you guys?
A bottle of Underberg can fit in your pocket, hence its nickname. We love it, so we made Pocket Liquor the name of our podcast.
JM: And right before we hit “record,” we shoot a bottle of Underberg. We do the same thing after we hit “stop.” Every time. We don’t record without Underberg.

CM: Have they offered you a sponsorship yet?
No, but I want a blimp ride to Germany.
BP: Yeah, we need a zeppelin ride to Germany. We’re owed.


Photographs by (Plyler & Mcconnell Portrait & H&L Market) Aleece Kingsley-Taylor & (sliders) Shell Royster & Courtesy of (amaro) Highwire Distilling Co. & (scotch) Johnnie Walker