Exclusive interview: Zane Lamprey on the Aspen episode of Drinking Made Easy

HDNet's Drinking Made Easy hosts Zane Lamprey and Steve McKenna spend their days traveling across the country and drinking on camera, using their show as a medium to showcase the local drinking culture of towns from all over the map. On next week's episode -- which airs Wednesday, April 4 at 6 p.m. MST -- the pair takes on drinking in Aspen. In this interview, Lamprey talks about the show, weighing in on testing the effects of alcohol at altitude, the beer ski and how his drinking buddy, McKenna, dropped $300 on a case of beer once filming wrapped.

Westword: Tell me a little about the episode.

Zane Lamprey: I don't remember. I remember watching the episode, but I don't remember filming it. I blame Jimmy Yeager at Jimmy's [in Aspen].

No, we did two things when we were there: we shot some of the one-hour episode [finale] and some of the Aspen episode.

We were really there to capture the Aspen drinking scene, but not necessarily the party scene. We wanted to give the best overall picture of what it's like to drink in Aspen, so we went to J Bar, Ajax Tavern, Jimmy's and the Aspen Brewing Company, and they're all completely different. It's not the same clientele going to all the places, but it's my job to get an overall picture -- not high-end, low-end, but everything in between. We were there for three days shooting, but we had to fit everything into half an hour, so we had to limit ourselves to a few locations. There were more places we could have gone.

One thing that's not airing on the Aspen episode is something we did for the one-hour episode: We did a test to see if altitude really affected the absorption of alcohol. It was a great place to try it out, because it's high, and it's a great place to go drinking. We did the same test in Aspen as we did in San Diego. The results were very inconclusive; we actually seemed to get more inebriated in San Diego than Aspen. I drank a lot in Denver and at altitude; I think it's more about getting used to it.

Aspen was a blast. There wasn't a lot of snow; we were there right between Thanksgiving and Christmas because I thought it would be a great time, scheduling-wise. If we shot the north side of the mountain, we got a lot of snow. But on the south side, it looked like fall. We had a great time.

So why Aspen? There are a lot of cool things in Aspen, including a small but great brewery and Jimmy's. [Owner] Jimmy Yeager is a very well-known mixologist in the mixology scene. He's kind of a legend, but don't tell him I said that. Also, they shot Dumb and Dumber there, so we had to go there.

Any favorite bar or favorite drinks? I'm a pretty regular guy. I'm not a high-end guy, I'm not a dive-bar guy, I'm sort of a little bit of everything. So I have different moods for different times of day and people around me. I couldn't say that one bar or one drink in a bar was better than another. I don't have a drink that really stood out as being amazing. I'm accumulating experiences, and it was a very, very fun experience. Also, it was the last episode we shot [of season two], so we might have gone a little crazy.

What about a ridiculous story? That I can tell you? Well, okay, here's a good one: I travel with my crew and my co-host, my buddy Steve [McKenna]. My producer is Mel [Schilling], and she brought a few of her girlfriends along. It was our last episode, and we wanted to go out with a bang. So we went drinking at Jimmy's -- so we're lucky we remember how we got home (by the way, it was a taxi) -- and came back to the hotel. Back at the hotel, we said, "Let's get some beer."

Steve says, "I got it." So I hand Steve thirty bucks figuring he's going to go get in a taxi, pick up some beer and come back. We were staying at the Aspen Institute, on the edge of town, and he comes back in about five to seven minutes.

So we say, "What happened? Where's the beer?"

He says, "Oh, don't worry, the beer's on the way." So we say, "What do you mean?"

He tells us, "I have some beers and s'mores coming. I went to the bar in the hotel and had 36 beers delivered to our room and some s'mores."

So then I say, "How'd you pay for it?"

He says, "Don't worry about it, charged it to the room." My room, by the way. And he tipped with the thirty bucks I gave him. So the tab is $300 for the beer and s'mores, plus tip. That's what you get for sending Steve out for beer.

What was the crowd like? It was interesting, actually. I thought that by going after Thanksgiving and before Christmas, we'd get a crowd. But it was before the ski season: The slopes were open, but people weren't there. It was a total local vibe. You had skiing and everything was open, but the crowd wasn't there. It was great because we could get in everywhere and get a table everywhere, so that was very cool. We got to meet locals. It would have been a little different in the middle of the season.

You did the shotski in Denver -- did you find one in Aspen? Yeah, we found a beerski at the brewery and had a race. Each ski had six samplers on it. Two of my crew members, Gio and Josh, broke a glass, so they lost; the brewery guys were slow. Steve and I won to ruin it for everyone. After that was over, my camera guy is good at chugging, so we wanted to see if he could chug three beers in one minute. He did it, but it was too much volume for his stomach, and it exited even more quickly than it went in. That's in the episode. Like I said, it was our last one, so it was a little crazy. It's not like I'm bringing my camera guy to every location and having him puke in the sink.

Inebriation results were inconclusive, but how was the hangover at that altitude? We usually start pretty early because we can't shoot when the crowds are there, so we sleep early. We get our hangovers when we're sleeping, wake up and we're fine. So I didn't really get a hangover. But hangovers suck at any altitude.

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