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“The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking” | Talks at Google

August 23, 2019


SPEAKER: Without
any further ado, we’d like to welcome
the cast of Imbible. [CHEERING] [APPLAUSE] KATE HOOVER: [SINGING] By the
waters, the waters of Babylon. We lay down and wept
and wept for the Zion. We remember, we remember,
we remember thee Zion. ANTHONY CAPORALE:
In the beginning, God created the
heavens and the earth. The earth was without
form and void. And darkness was upon
a face of the deep. And the spirit of God was moving
over the face of the waters. And God said, let
there be a firmament in the midst of the waters. And let it separate the
waters from the waters. And God made the firmament
and separated the waters which were under the firmament
from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was good. And God said, let the
waters under the heavens be gathered together
into once place. And let the dry land appear. And it was good. God called the dry land earth. And the waters that were
gathered together he called seas. A mist went up from
the earth and watered the whole face of the ground. And it was good. And God said, let the
waters bring forth swarms of living creatures. So God created every
living creature with which the
water swarms saying, be fruitful and multiply
and fill the waters. And it was not so
good, actually. At least, wasn’t so good for us. Noah was the first
tiller of the soil. He planted a vineyard
and drank of the wine and became drunk and lay
uncovered in his tent. See, even back then
drunk equaled naked, but we’ll get to that. Let’s switch from
Noah to Pasteur now, because we’ve got a lot
of science coming up. And if we stay on
this path, it’s going to take a Jewish
carpenter to get us wine, and I’m pretty sure that’s not
who they use in Napa Valley. Wine, as it turns
out, is generally not made by messianic
prophets but by yeast. Yeast– a unicellular
microorganism that’s part of the fungi kingdom. And folks, it’s
everywhere– in the air, living on plants,
even on your skin. But don’t worry,
it’s mostly harmless. It can be a bit itchy if
it gets in the wrong nooks and crannies. You can laugh at
that, it’s Friday. [LAUGHTER] Yeast is pretty single-minded
as unicellular microscopic fungi go. Pretty much does
one thing in life. It eats sugar and excretes
alcohol and carbon dioxide. Now, the only thing it
asks is that the sugar be dissolved in water, and
that really is the beginning. Come back with me now to
the days of the cavemen. Now, you think yeast
leads a simple life? Pretty much all these guys did
was eat, sleep, and try and not die. Because back then,
the eating part took up all of your free time
if you wanted to not die. Meat was a real bitch. You had to hunt the mammoth
while trying to not die. Kill the mammoth definitely
trying to not die. Drag the carcass back to your
cave still trying to not die. Clean it, cook it, all
of which could easily use more calories than
you got from the meal and was a little stressful. So mostly we ate
plants, but even those can be a real pain
in the grass to find, till we learned to grow them
where we wanted them to be. But eventually,
we did just that, and the first plants
we were able to farm were the most common. The grasses, things like
wheat and rye and barley. The cereal grains. Once we had a
handle on those, we could start making the
stuff of life– bread. Ooh. So back to our cavemen. And by the way, these
were totally not cavemen. ALL: What? ANTHONY CAPORALE: No, it just
makes for a much cooler story. We’re probably in the
early Neolithic period, around 9,500 BC. He is out gathering wheat to– sorry, more likely she– is out gathering wheat to
make bread, when suddenly– [THUNDER] –a thunderstorm rolls in. Now, remembering that
her first husband once got caught in a
thunderstorm and that’s what cleared the way
for her second husband, she drops the half
full basket of wheat and hightails it
back to her cave. And when the weather
clears up, she goes back to gathering wheat
and comes upon the basket she left in the rain. NICOLE DIMATTEI: Look at that. ANTHONY CAPORALE:
It’s been a few days, and the sugars in
the grain have been dissolved by the rainwater
that’s collected in the vessel. Unbeknownst to our heroine,
the yeast living on the wheat has been happily
doing its thing. Grain looks different. Kind of soupy and bubbly. Smells different too. Sharp but a bit sweet. So she tastes it. Not too bad. Not great, but not bad. [SNICKERING] And then, for some
reason, she has the urge to take off her top. NICOLE DIMATTEI: Woo! ANTHONY CAPORALE:
And she realizes she’s not wearing a top. NICOLE DIMATTEI: What? ANTHONY CAPORALE: Doesn’t
really know what a top is. NICOLE DIMATTEI: Whatever. ANTHONY CAPORALE:
So it’s all good. And off to the cave she goes
with her growler of beer– NICOLE DIMATTEI: Whoa! ANTHONY CAPORALE:
–because that’s what she’s just discovered. NICOLE DIMATTEI: I’m awesome. ANTHONY CAPORALE:
Cheers, my friends, and welcome to The
Imbible at Google. [CHEERING] [APPLAUSE] NICOLE DIMATTEI: 1, 2, 3. ALL: [SINGING] Beer, beer,
beer, tiddly beer, beer, beer. ANTHONY CAPORALE:
[SINGING] A long time ago, way back in history, when
water was the only drink as far as the eye could see, along came
a lass by the name of Carley Jane– KATE HOOVER: That’s me! ANTHONY CAPORALE: –and she
invented a wonderful drink and she made it out of grain. ALL: [SINGING] Oh, she
could have been a cavewoman, a goddess, or queen. And to sing her praises
we are always keen. Oh, look what she
has done for us, she’s filled us up with cheer. A’Lord bless Carley
Jane, the lass who invented beer, beer,
beer, tiddly beer, beer, beer. The Jury’s Pub and The Stag,
The Wexford Inn as well. One thing you can be sure of,
it’s Carley’s drink they sell. So all you lads and
lasses at 11 o’clock refrain, for 5 short seconds,
remember Carley Jane. NICOLE DIMATTEI: Stop it. ANTHONY CAPORALE: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. ALL: [SINGING] She could have
been a cavewoman, a goddess, or a queen. And to sing her praises
we are always keen. Look what she has done for us,
she’s filled us up with cheer. A’Lord, bless Carley
Jane, the lass who invented beer, beer,
beer, tiddly beer, beer, beer. A bushel of malt,
a barrel of hops, stirred around with
sticks, the type of irrigation to make your
[INAUDIBLE] 40 pints of wallop will keep away the quacks. It’s only ha’pence a penny
a pint and 1 and 6 in tax. ANTHONY CAPORALE:
Everybody sing with us. ALL: [SINGING] 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. She could have been a cavewoman,
a goddess, or a queen. NICOLE DIMATTEI: Louder! ALL: [SINGING] And to sing her
praises we are always keen. Look what she has done for us,
she’s filled us with cheer! A’Lord bless Carley Jane,
the lass who invented beer! Beer, beer, beer,
tiddly beer, beer, beer. A’Lord bless Carley Jane! KATE HOOVER: Woo! Yeah! ANTHONY CAPORALE:
Good job, everyone. Nicely done. I love that song. What was I talking about? Oh. Cereal grains plus water
plus yeast equals beer. But you don’t need to limit
yourself to cereal grains. Grape juice, which
already has water in it, plus yeast equals– AUDIENCE: Wine. ANTHONY CAPORALE: Yeah. Just shout them right out if
you know the answers, folks. All right. What if we start with
the juice of palm fruits like apples or pears? Any one? AUDIENCE: Cider. ANTHONY CAPORALE: Yeah. You can google these. [LAUGHTER] Cider. Very good. I’m gonna make it
a little harder. How about if we dissolve
honey in water and add yeast? AUDIENCE: Mead. ANTHONY CAPORALE: Yeah. There we go. All right. I like it when the
crowd gets mead. Let’s keep an eye on this
and see what happens. So to generalize my
original statement, sugar plus water plus
yeast equals alcohol, or as I like to write
it, ethyl alcohol equal sugar plus
water plus yeast. I call this the alcohol
sugar equivalent formula, and it demonstrates
the same relationship between sugar and alcohol that
Einstein’s equivalence formula demonstrates between energy– I am serious. No, look. Think about it. Einstein’s formula
shows that mass can be converted into energy, right? The more mass you start with,
the more energy you get. Well, my equation
shows that sugar can be converted into ethyl alcohol. The more sugar you start with,
the more alcohol you get. I would argue that my
equation has had a greater impact on human history. In fact, I would go
so far as to say that the discovery of fermentation– this process of converting
sugar into alcohol using yeast– has been more important to
the evolution of our species than the discovery of fire. I would be wrong. Like, way wrong. But I would certainly say that. Maybe after a few drinks I will. Here’s why. Alcohol is toxic. But you knew that. It’s right in the word. In– AUDIENCE: –toxicated. ANTHONY CAPORALE:
–toxicated, yes. It’s toxic to us in
surprisingly small doses. What is the legal
blood alcohol limit to drive in New York state? I’m not going to
use the joke again. Who knows? AUDIENCE: 0.08. ANTHONY CAPORALE: There you go. Good. If you didn’t know that, when
we’re done with the show, then I need to download
an app called Uber. Look at this number folks. Look. That is not 8%. Right? It’s not 8/10ths of a percent. It’s 8/100ths of a percent. That’s one part in every 1,250. If 8/100ths of 1% of your
blood is ethyl alcohol, you are too in– AUDIENCE: –toxicated. ANTHONY CAPORALE:
–toxicated to legally drive. At just over one half of 1%,
you go into a coma and die. So yeah. Alcohol is toxic. Fun fact. But here’s the coolness. It’s not just toxic to us. It’s toxic to lots
of other things as well, including some
pretty nasty stuff, like bacteria and fungi. Plus, it can inactivate
viruses, which is a nice bonus. And if alcohol is
toxic to our big asses in quantities as
small as 1/2 of 1%, how much alcohol do
you think it takes to kill a teensy-weensy
little bacterium? Not too much is
the correct answer. And this is why I say that
the discovery of fermentation and our resulting ability
to produce this incredibly effective disinfecting
agent, incredibly easily, from incredibly
common ingredients, has quite literally allowed the
human race to survive attacks that would have otherwise
neatly killed us off– and ultimately, go on
to invent cool stuff like iPhones and twerking. Anyway. It didn’t take too long for our
cavewoman to figure this out. When she brought that first
growler back to her people and they started
drinking the beer inside, they noticed a few things. First, the people who drank
the bubbly grain juice tended to not die as much as
the people who just drank water. Remember, be fruitful
and multiply. Fill the waters. Ever hear, don’t
drink the water? Folks we have a Rover on Mars,
right now, looking for life. But is it actually
looking for life, like little green martians? No. What’s it looking for? AUDIENCE: Water. ANTHONY CAPORALE: Water. Very good. And what did we just find? Water. Now, why are we so excited? Because water is
the key to life. Tons of things live in water. Disease causing
agents love water. And we can’t live without it. So let’s fast forward a bit
from our clever cavewoman and drop in on her progeny,
about 10,000 years later. People have gotten really
good at getting plants to grow where they want. They’ve gotten somewhat
less good, but still better, at not dying, in large part
because they’ve been gathering together in bigger and
bigger groups centered around these farms for a
few thousand years now. We are in the midst of an
agricultural revolution, with its resulting
rise in cities. ALEC LEE: Taxi! ANTHONY CAPORALE: And twerking
is looming ever closer on the horizon. Now, cities have lots
of upside, right? There’s easy access
to food, protection from outside invaders,
truly outstanding Off-Broadway musical
communities with cocktails. They also pose some problems. Where do we usually
build cities? Hint– we have one on each
side of us at this very moment. AUDIENCE: Rivers. ANTHONY CAPORALE:
Rivers, very good. Can’t live without water, right? But we also use these rivers
for lots of other things, like washing, transportation,
waste disposal, trapping people in New Jersey
if they don’t endorse you in an election. Very versatile, these rivers. ALL: [SINGING] Down
by the old mill stream where I first met you. With your eyes of blue,
dressed in gingham too. It was there that I knew
that you loved me too. You were 16. Sweet 16. ANTHONY CAPORALE:
[SINGING] My village queen. ALL: [SINGING] Village queen. By the old mill stream. By the old mill stream. Mill stream. [APPLAUSE] ANTHONY CAPORALE:
Thank you very much. And it’s a great system. Clean water flows
up to the city. The inhabitants use it to drink,
cook, clean, fill up bongs. Then they throw the
waste out into the street where it runs back down to
the river and is carried away. Perfection. Unless you live in a city
downstream from, say, London in which case your
H2O is a veritable Petri dish of living goo, courtesy
of the folks upstream. So as fast as we were
filling up these cities, we were filling up the
cemeteries even faster. ALL: [SINGING] Ring around the
rosie, a pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down. ANTHONY CAPORALE:
Now, a lot of people think that song was
written about the plague. ALL: Ohh. ANTHONY CAPORALE: Yep. The rosy red welt with
a circle around it caused by the bacteria. ALL: Ohh. ANTHONY CAPORALE: Stuffing
your pockets with flowers to combat the stench of decay. ALL: Gross. ANTHONY CAPORALE: And
burning the dead to ashes. KATE HOOVER: Jesus Christ. ANTHONY CAPORALE: Those lyrics
were likely added later. It’s pretty clear that
life wasn’t quite as safe as houses around this time. But take some of that
pestilence-laden river water, add a little of our
bubbly grain juice, suddenly all those
nasty pathogens die off. So you’re cavewoman’s– I don’t know– great great
great great granddaughter, still try really
hard to not die. Don’t drink the water. Drink the beer. You guys got some
beer coming, right? SPEAKER: Yes. There it is. ANTHONY CAPORALE:
What kind is it? SPEAKER: Oh, it’s right there. But our keg has arrived. ANTHONY CAPORALE: Oh, great. Fantastic. Guys? ALEC LEE: [SINGING] Spiritus. Spiritus sanctus. KATE HOOVER: [SINGING] Spiritus. Spiritus sanctus. NICOLE DIMATTEI: [SINGING]
Spiritus sanctus. ANTHONY CAPORALE:
By the Middle Ages, people were drinking
low alcohol, small ale as an everyday drink. Now, the small ale was packed
with vitamins and minerals. It was really liquid
bread, after all. And at about 2% or 3%
ABV, or alcohol by volume, had just enough ethanol
to kill off any bad stuff. That’s what everybody drank,
including pregnant women and children. Just think about it. Would you rather your
kid catch a little buzz or die of cholera? I mean, I guess it
depends on your kid. Look, small ale was just part
of a balanced breakfast, folks. Laborers would drink gallons
of the stuff every day while they were sweating
away their electrolytes. It was the original
sports drink, really. So score one for ethanol,
which, as I mentioned, is the alcohol we’ve
been talking about. Ethanol, or ethyl alcohol, is
the type of alcohol we drink. Now, there’s lots
of other alcohols. There’s methanol, isopropyl
alcohol, butanol, amyl alcohol. But the only one we
drink is ethyl alcohol. And yes, it’s exactly
the same as the ethanol you put in your car. So what is this
stuff that you have been pouring into your
stomachs and gas tanks? [SINGING] Sweet ethanol. ALL: [SINGING] Sweet ethanol. ANTHONY CAPORALE:
[SINGING] My ethanol. ALL: [SINGING] My ethanol. ANTHONY CAPORALE:
[SINGING] [INAUDIBLE] ALL: [SINGING] [INAUDIBLE] ANTHONY CAPORALE:
[SINGING] For you I call. ALL: [SINGING] For you I call. ANTHONY CAPORALE: [SINGING]
In all my dreams– ALL: [SINGING] In
all my dreams– ANTHONY CAPORALE: [SINGING]
–your fair face beams. ALL: [SINGING] –your
fair face beams. You’re the flower of my
heart, sweet ethanol. Sweet ethanol. [APPLAUSE] ANTHONY CAPORALE: Thank you. So ethanol is a volatile,
flammable, colorless liquid with the structural
formula CH3 CH2 OH. Now, best known as
the type of alcohol found in alcoholic
beverages, it is also used in thermometers, as
a solvent, and as a fuel. Ethyl alcohol can cause alcohol
intoxication when consumed. It is one of the oldest
recreational drugs still used by humans with significant
psychoactive effects. In common usage, it
is often referred to simply as alcohol,
liquor, or hooch. Yeah. No thank you, Wikipedia. So ethanol is
volatile, That means it boils at a low temperature. You need to remember that. It’s flammable. It burns, like in
your car engine. And of course,
significant psychoactive effects which you will be
feeling in just a few minutes. So let’s talk about that. I said when our
cavepeople started drinking the bubbly grain juice
they noticed a few things. Well, in addition to
not dying as much, another thing they noticed
was that the people who drank the juice
threw way better parties than everybody else. KATE HOOVER: Woo-hoo! Yeah! ANTHONY CAPORALE: Yeah. There was dancing. Oh, and singing karaoke. NICOLE DIMATTEI: Ahh! ANTHONY CAPORALE:
And a lot of times, you’d wake up next to
somebody you didn’t even know the day before. ALEC LEE: Yeah. [LAUGHTER] NICOLE DIMATTEI: [SINGING]
At first I was afraid, I was petrified. KATE AND ALEC: Yassss. NICOLE DIMATTEI: [SINGING] I
kept thinking I could never live without you by– by– I’m gonna make you smile. [LAUGHTER] –side. Don’t go away from me. But then I spent so many
nights thinking how you– you– me– yes, you know it. Wrong. KATE AND ALEC: So wrong. NICOLE DIMATTEI:
You have great hair. Cool. I’ll see you later. [SINGING] That I
grew– audience! As AUDIENCE: Strong! ANTHONY CAPORALE: There we go. One guy. NICOLE DIMATTEI: You win. I’ll give you all
another chance. That I grew– AUDIENCE: Strong. KATE HOOVER: My god. Strong. NICOLE DIMATTEI: All right. One more, guys. The word is “strong.” [SINGING] That I grew– AUDIENCE: Strong! NICOLE DIMATTEI: There it is. [SINGING] And I learned
how to get along and so you’re back
from outer space. I just walked in
to find you here with that sad look
upon your face. I should’ve changed the
stupid lock, should’ve made you leave you key. If I’d’ve know for
just one second you’d be back to bother me. I will survive! ANTHONY CAPORALE: That’s Nicole
DiMattei, ladies and gentlemen. That’s our director right there. So not only are these grain
drinkers living longer, they’re living way cooler. This really gets our
ancestors attention. Pretty soon, they become more
interested in the dancing and karaoke part of the beer
than the not dying as much part. They start to wonder
if there’s a way to get just the fun part out– that dancing and karaoke
spirit of the drink. Right around 900 AD, a
Persian physician/philos opher/chemist/alchemist by the
name of Muhammad Ibn Zakariya Al Razi, or Razziz, as he
was known to his peeps– ALL: Peeps! ANTHONY CAPORALE:
–identifies this essence, which the International
Conference on Chemical Nomenclature officially names
ethanol about a millennium later in Geneva, Switzerland. But folks, some of us
still just call it spirits. So now the problem becomes
how to get those spirits out of beer. Because as cool as beer
and other fermented drinks like wine, cider,
and mead are, they’re still mostly water,
and that’s just going to slow things
down if you’re trying to get a dance party started. ALEC LEE: Yeah! Dance party. ANTHONY CAPORALE: No, Alec. Alec. ALEC LEE: Come on, now. Here we go. Woo! Woo! ANTHONY CAPORALE: Alec. ALEC LEE: Woo! Yeah. ANTHONY CAPORALE: No,
he’s very excited. We’re not twerking yet. ALEC LEE: Oh, All right. I’ll be back. ANTHONY CAPORALE: Good. All right. So alcohol is toxic to
microorganisms, right? But what makes alcohol? This was like five minutes ago. AUDIENCE: Yeast. ANTHONY CAPORALE: Yeah. Very good. Yeast. And what is yeast? A microorganism. There’s the rub. You know, as any of you
that have kept fish, or have hamsters,
or children know, most things don’t thrive
in their own excrement. Ditto yeast. See how our yeast is– whoa. Nicole, nicely done. NICOLE DIMATTEI: I made a mess. It’s perfect. Let’s give it up for yeast,
ladies and gentlemen. [APPLAUSE] ANTHONY CAPORALE: You’re not
going to hear that at Hamilton. All right. That’s not bad for– that
was like, what, maybe 10 minutes of fermentation? But as soon as the
alcohol builds up to a certain level, usually
not much more than about 15%, the yeast will either
go dormant or die. No more alcohol after that. Now this is why most fermented
drinks top out at about 17% ABV. Beer’s generally
about 3% to 5% ABV. Cider hovers around 6%. Apples have more
sugar than grain, so cider ends up with
more alcohol than beer. And wine, which usually
starts with the most sugar, usually ends up at
between 10% and 15%. Any idea what the ABV of
a spirit like vodka is? AUDIENCE: 40. ANTHONY CAPORALE: 40, very good. So my question is, how do we
go from beer, with an alcohol content of 5%, to vodka, with
an alcohol content of 40, if we know the yeast is going
to give up the ghost at 15%? Say it. AUDIENCE: Distillation. ANTHONY CAPORALE: Distillation. Very good. So to find out how we came
up with that neat trick, you’re going to have to come
see The Imbible at New World Stages. We are playing. Thank you very much. [APPLAUSE] We’ll give you a schedule later. Let’s give it up
for the cast, guys. You guys were awesome. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] SPEAKER: So this show, I saw
it recently in its entirety. Fantastic show. ANTHONY CAPORALE: Thank you. SPEAKER: And I’ve had to try
to– as I’m telling people to go see it, the way
I have described it is, the show itself is a cocktail– two parts world history,
one part anthropology, a dash of chemistry,
with a liberal garnish of barbershop quartet,
which sounds delicious. ANTHONY CAPORALE: I love that. ALEC LEE: Very accurate. SPEAKER: How did you come
up with the idea for this? Where did it start? ANTHONY CAPORALE: So
like all good cocktails, the origin story is a little
muddy and very collaborative. I guess the genesis
of the show started with lectures and
seminars that I was giving within the beverage industry. I teach at the Institute
of Culinary Education. I’m the director of
beverage studies there. And also, I used to do a lot
of work with the liquor brands. I was a national
brand ambassador. And a lot of educational work. So I would give sort of
very high level talks on spirits and cocktails,
history, science, trying to engage consumers
and also bartenders. And my degree’s actually
in mechanical engineering, so I would get pretty geeky
in these presentations. But I would always– but we’ve
been running theater companies as well. So I was running a
company with Nicole, which is the company
that we’re currently– Broadway Theater Studio,
which produces The Imbible. And we decided that
we would incorporate some elements of theater– sketches and comedy
and stuff like that– into the presentations. And people loved them because,
in these presentations, you also always get cocktails. You’re not going
to go to a seminar hosted by Bacardi unless
you’re getting a Bacardi drink. So the standard was always three
drinks within like a couple hours that you get. And after one of these, called
The Science of Mixology, someone came up to me afterwards
and said, you live in New York. If you did this exact
presentation downtown on a Friday night,
I would go see it. So fast forward five
years or something like that, Nicole, who’s an
incredibly talented writer, had been writing some plays and
was entering a show in the New York Fringe Festival 2014. And I said, you know,
I have this idea. Would you mind if I
also entered a show? And she was like,
yeah, we could– one of them–
neither of them are going to get in, but whatever. Double our chances. Well, they both got
in, and we ended up producing two full length
shows in the Fringe Festival at one time. And the Imbible
got a lot of press because we served
drinks during the show. That had never been
done at Fringe. So we got encored, and then
we opened Off-Broadway shortly after that. It started, like I
said, as lectures. The idea to bring in
sort of Greek chorus and introduce music and comedy
and sketches and costumes and all of this, the majority
of that is due to Nicole. She came aboard as
the director and said, you know, I have this vision. What if you are the bartender
and there’s a staff behind you that sort of all are analogous
to restaurant servers, and they can help
propel the story. And what was going
to originally just be a one man show turned into
this full musical comedy. SPEAKER: Fantastic. The acapella harmonies that
you all are doing are amazing. Like, it’s not
anything else that– certainly not
anything else that’s happening on Broadway
right now or near it. Did that come easily? I mean, is this your training? ALEC LEE: Well, I studied
theater and music in college. But one of my favorite
experiences in college, I was in an acapella
group, and people would say that we were a
drinking group with a singing problem. So I spent a lot of time
during my college training actually in an acapella group. And often, alcohol was involved,
so this was a perfect fit for me right out of college. KATE HOOVER: I just love booze. No, I also went to school
for musical theater. I never really had acappella
training, but I just– I don’t know. I’ve always been very good at
just listening and hearing, picking up other
parts and whatnot. And I mean, I’m
fortunate– again, I have talented coworkers that
just mesh with me very well. SPEAKER: It’s fantastic. NICOLE DIMATTEI:
It’s a unique talent and actually hard to find. We’ve been casting this
show now for three years, and we have four
versions of the show. So we have a rum show, a brunch
show, and a Christmas show. And to find casts that
are able to do this, because most musical theater
kids right out of college are trained to just
stand and sing their solo with an orchestra behind them. That’s not this at all. You have to be able to hold
your own part while people right next to you are singing
something completely different. And there’s no
orchestra to help you. SPEAKER: Right. Which has got to save
money but be frustrating? ANTHONY CAPORALE: That. Both of those things. SPEAKER: Yes. Exactly. You talk about these
skills to have. In addition to being an acapella
group who is also doing comedy, you’re going around serving
drinks with trays in hand. KATE HOOVER: Yes. NICOLE DIMATTEI: So
that opening number we sang, we actually
serve the audience the first drink during it. We get that. And then, hilariously, people
see us as servers then. And we’re singing
in their faces, and they’re trying
to talk to us. Like, can I actually get
water, or what’s in this? And I’m like, I am
singing a song right now. SPEAKER: Do they ever tip? ANTHONY CAPORALE: Yes. SPEAKER: Oh. ANTHONY CAPORALE: Yes, they do. SPEAKER: Wow. You’ve really– this
business model is fantastic. ANTHONY CAPORALE:
It’s a good deal. But to Nicole’s
point, we actually put, in all of
our casting calls, that we’re looking for actors
with serving experience, because not only
are we asking people to remember bits and do
costume changes and sing, but they got to do it
while they’re carrying trays and serving drinks. And that’s something it’s
difficult to just pick up off the street. So luckily, many actors also
have restaurant experience. NICOLE DIMATTEI: But
actually, Kate didn’t. She was just so talented,
and we loved her. And she has great people
skills and wonderful at improv, which is really helpful. Our show is right in your face. But Kate has a great
story about the night before her first show. KATE HOOVER: I am not a server. I’ve had like one serving
job, and I was rubbish at it. I was not good. And so, of course, I
got hired for this, and I was so nervous the
night before my first show that I remember
I was up at 2 AM. I found something to make a tray
with, and I was serving drinks and like going over my
part to my cats in my room. Just like, [INAUDIBLE]. Trying to make sure,
please don’t spill this during the show. But literally, that was
the most nervous I was. And even to this day, I’m
a little better at it now, but I still have that
moment of like, oh shit, before I go on– oh, sorry. Sorry. I didn’t mean to swear. SPEAKER: It’s all right. [LAUGHTER] KATE HOOVER: Great. Everyone is going to see that. Yeah. NICOLE DIMATTEI: Just drink it. [INTERPOSING VOICES] KATE HOOVER: But it’s
better now, obviously. SPEAKER: And it’s not just
that, oh, you know, crack open a Coors Light and hand it out. You’re making real cocktails. When I was there you make– spoiler alert– an Old
Fashioned that was amazing. This was like caramel sugar with
apples, and it was incredible. It was one of the best
drinks I’ve ever had. And I understand that was
just the drink that night when I was there. How often does it
change, and who decides? ANTHONY CAPORALE: So,
again, collaborative. The Old Fashioned we
used because there’s a very interesting story
behind the Old Fashioned that we actually– the drinks
that we serve aren’t random. They’re all incorporated
into the script. So as we’re teaching you
about the history of a drink, we will serve it to you. And the Old Fashioned is more of
a template than a recipe, so we change it up every month or two. And actually, we
have a stage manager, who’s been with us for
about three years now, and we kind of
given her free rein to come up with the flavors
for the Old Fashioned. So if you like
the caramel apple, I will tell Kim that you
like the caramel apple. Before that we had– what did we have? KATE HOOVER: Strawberry. NICOLE DIMATTEI:
Strawberry and basil. ANTHONY CAPORALE: Creamsicle. Yeah. We’ve done some really,
really cool stuff. SPEAKER: So there is incentive
to see the show multiple times. ANTHONY CAPORALE: There is, yes. There is. Absolutely. I mean, if we’re
going to talk about– I’ve been in the bartending
world since 1911 or something now. We kind of feel an
obligation that if we’re going to put ourselves out
there in a position where we’re going to teach you about
spirits and cocktails, we should put our money
where our mouth is and give you some pretty
darn good cocktails. So we try and do that. Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it. SPEAKER: It’s also got to make
for some interesting audiences. ALEC LEE: Oh, yes. SPEAKER: What is the best
and/or worst story you’ve got? ALEC LEE: Oh, who
wants to tell it? KATE HOOVER: You’ve
got a really good one. ALEC LEE: No, Nicole’s got it. KATE HOOVER: Yeah. Nicole’s got it probably. Thank you. ALEC LEE: Thank you. Cheers. KATE HOOVER: Woo. VMP! MVP? NICOLE DIMATTEI: What? KATE HOOVER: I don’t know. NICOLE DIMATTEI: So we had– our audiences range in age. You know, we have
the 21-year-olds who want to come drink, and then
we have the older people that really enjoy the history. And they’re honestly
my favorite. But then sometimes we
get these like middle aged women, and then– ANTHONY CAPORALE: This is
why she’s telling the story. NICOLE DIMATTEI: You
know, like late 50s and just out for a good time
and very interesting people. And we had five
of them on stage– SPEAKER: We should
probably– oh, thank you. NICOLE DIMATTEI: Yeah. SPEAKER: The stage– this
isn’t a standard theater set. Your set is a bar. We’re all sitting
at the bar with you. OK. NICOLE DIMATTEI: So this is– we were at a different
space for two years. And now, this past year,
we’ve been at New World, where you saw the show. And our premium
seats are at the bar. Like, literally, you are
on bar stools at the bar. We had a small stage
at the other show that was like across from
the bar and our premium set on the stage. So this group of five women
were sitting on the stage, and Anthony starts
talking about the yeast. And the one woman goes,
Kathy has a yeast infection right now. ANTHONY CAPORALE: It stopped
the show if you can imagine. SPEAKER: To Kathy. ALL: To Kathy! KATE HOOVER: Never forget. I’ll never forget Kathy. SPEAKER: Now, this is not your
first interaction with Google. ANTHONY CAPORALE: No. SPEAKER: I learned this
kind of incidentally. We have some things
that we’ve been doing with the slow food
program and with farm to table projects. And apparently, you’re
involved there too. ANTHONY CAPORALE: Yeah. So we’re going to be
doing, I think, with– SPEAKER: Vanessa the
Googler who is off stage. ANTHONY CAPORALE: Yeah. We’re gonna be doing
a cocktail event that is going to be sustainable
cocktails and farm to table and like all
kinds of really good stuff. And then I also did
a talk at Google a few years back on
the history of whisky. I think it’s called the
Wonderful World of Whisky or something like
that, where we actually talked for about an
hour and a half just on whisky and the
science and history and cultural
significance of whisky. It was amazing. You guys are– AUDIENCE: You distilled. ANTHONY CAPORALE: Awesome. Yes. AUDIENCE: I remember
that in a [INAUDIBLE] ANTHONY CAPORALE: Yeah. You remember it? I love it. KATE HOOVER: Are you drinking
out of a stein right now? Is that like a metal– NICOLE DIMATTEI: Oh my gosh. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] ALEC LEE: I suppose
that’s right. ANTHONY CAPORALE:
That’s amazing. NICOLE DIMATTEI: I love it. ANTHONY CAPORALE: Yeah. We actually set up the distiller
and distilled moonshine right on stage. So yeah, you guys are awesome. It’s a great, great place. SPEAKER: Wow. Thank you. That’s the other thing. So you’re serving drinks
and you’re harmonizing and you’re dancing and
you’re hitting all your marks and you’re giving this
incredibly engaging lecture and you’re setting up science
experiments on the fly. Has that always gone
perfectly every show? ALEC LEE: Usually. ANTHONY CAPORALE:
I’m not doing that. They are doing that. ALEC LEE: 90% of the time. KATE HOOVER: We do
a pretty good job. I mean, the most that’ll go
wrong is, every now and then, we’ll have a cylinder
that starts to– meeh– kind of like leaning
tower of Pisa. And then we just have to go
and straighten it and adjust it during intermission. But we’ve never really had any– NICOLE DIMATTEI: Yeah. I mean– KATE HOOVER: Knock on wood. ALEC LEE: We’ve also– yeah, we’ve learned
enough about how to make it work that if
it happens to malfunction in some way, we’ve always been
able to fix it within the show and make it work. So yeah. I mean, it’s just gotten to
the point where we’re just used to how it’s done. SPEAKER: The science here
works pretty much the same way. 80% of the time, it
works every time. KATE HOOVER: Now you’ve got that
[INAUDIBLE] out, I don’t know. I’m just– ANTHONY CAPORALE:
But to their credit, I mean, you make a great point. We actually distill moonshine
live on stage, for real, from beer, in real time. And then we prove that it’s
ethanol, the whole bit. And the show’s been– we’re probably coming up
on 600 performances now, I got to believe? That’s 600 distillation
runs that this cast has, which is probably more
than some microdistilleries at this point. I’m not even kidding. It’s a lot of booze
that they make, and it’s got to go perfectly
every single night. And that doesn’t happen in
commercial distilleries. I mean, I don’t think
I express to you guys enough how impressed
I am with the way that you do that, because
there is no safety net, there are no tricks. They actually take
beer and turn it into moonshine every single
night in front of the audience. And it’s just fantastic. And I just sit there and sings. SPEAKER: Huzzah! Drink to that. KATE HOOVER: [INAUDIBLE] . SPEAKER: Before we wrap,
do we have questions from the audience? Anything about the show? AUDIENCE: When’s your next show? KATE HOOVER: Tonight. ALEC LEE: Tonight. 8 o’clock. ANTHONY CAPORALE: So
what’s the schedule? NICOLE DIMATTEI: So we run
Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 8 PM. Saturdays at 5 and 8 PM. That’s this show, The Imbible
Spirited History of Drinking. The Imbible day drinking– it’s the history of
brunch and brunch cocktails with a build
your own Bloody Mary bar. It also tells the
story of coffee, and we make Irish coffees,
and the story of champagne, and we make bellinis. That runs Tuesdays– Tuesdays. That doesn’t make any sense. Saturdays at 2:00
and Sundays at 3:00. And then, mid-November,
we’ll start Christmas. ANTHONY CAPORALE: So we
have a Christmas show, which is called The
Imbible Christmas Carol Cocktails, that is basically a
retelling of A Christmas Carol. SPEAKER: The hangovers
of Christmas past. ANTHONY CAPORALE:
It actually picks up at the end of the book,
and Scrooge is all happy about Christmas. He decides he wants to
throw a big Christmas party, but he realizes he doesn’t know
how to make drinks because he’s been Scrooge his whole life. So he calls all the
holiday spirits back– NICOLE DIMATTEI: Spirits. KATE HOOVER: Spirits. ANTHONY CAPORALE: See
what we did there. They go out for another
night, but this time they teach him about cocktails
past, present, and future. And so we teach you like
the history of eggnog and why we drink
that, and we actually serve a precursor to eggnog
and go through all that. In the last drink,
we actually use liquid nitrogen live on stage
and titrate alcoholic cream into Dippin’ Dots live on stage. We make alcoholic Dippin’
Dots live for 70 people. So these guys are crazy, man. They do some really
amazing stuff. SPEAKER: The Rockettes
got nothing on you. NICOLE DIMATTEI: And
we can kick our faces. ALEC LEE: Yeah. We also do kick lines. We also do kick lines. ANTHONY CAPORALE: So you
can check out imbible.nyc. And hopefully we’ll be able
to get a Google deal out to you guys for discounts. And we have some cards
there for you guys to use as discount codes too. SPEAKER: This is fantastic. Thank you so much for coming in. ANTHONY CAPORALE: Thank
you for having us. SPEAKER: The Imbible. ANTHONY CAPORALE: Awesome. ALEC LEE: Cheers. Thank you. SPEAKER: Cheers. ALEC LEE: Cheers.

2 Comments

  • Reply blaquefrost November 4, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    Awesome Show, Awesome Cast, Awesome T-Shirts!!

  • Reply George Mirchev January 27, 2018 at 5:39 am

    This is the nerdiest thing that ever happened.

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