Making Booze Great Again with Jeff Bradford
First Anthony Bourdain famously explored international culture, cuisine, and the human connection provided by food. Then Guy Fieri rolled into diners, drive-ins, and dives all across America, sharing the stories behind favorite local eateries while introducing audiences to new foods. Now Jeff Bradford is here to bring Drink Destinations to the world.
Drink Destinations is Jeff’s way of connecting cultures and spotlighting the art of alcohol. Beer, Wine, and Spirits is his platform to do so and Drink Destinations is the first show of its kind. If you haven’t heard of it yet, you will. Much like Gary Vaynerchuck’s years of dedication to his Wine Library series seemed to some to be an overnight success, Jeff is now emerging as a rising star of a similar but also different style.
Jeff Bradford left a long and courageous career in the Special Forces to embark on his next great adventure.
He was a Master Sergeant with an eye on bumping up to Sergeant Major. “I loved the military,” says Jeff. “I loved the camaraderie.” He also struggles with the loss of more than one close friend in service, noting one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do was speak at one of their services.
With 20 years in the service, he reached a fork in his road. One path took him into six more years of service with a high likelihood of that promotion. It was six more years of doing what he loved with people he loved, and a steady paycheck attached.
The other path took him into completely unchartered and uncertain territory. It allowed him the ability to explore his creative side, to “go figure out what I want to be when I grow up,” he laughs.
Both paths held risk of completely different natures; one held a risk of death or injury and the other held a risk of failure and all its accompaniments.
Both paths also held rewards of completely different natures: one held the continued reward of camaraderie, adrenalin, and a clear sense of purpose while the other held the potential for self-discovery, new adventure and new purpose.
Ultimately he chose to take the creative leap.
“I said to myself, you know what? I’m going to go take a chance. I’m going to pursue my list of passions.”
That decision lead him down his list, checking off one box after another. The list was varied but all of his passions involved travel. First, he traveled to Rome and toyed with creating a travel app for the city. When he lost his appetite for that he took a stab at spotlighting artistic tattoos and checked another pursuit off his list. Eventually, he landed on his love of alcoholic spirits and went all-in on Beer, Wine, and Spirits.
His pivotal moment took place in Germany. Curiously examining the label on a wine bottle, he began wondering about its origin – who made it? How was it made? With each beverage he had he found himself more and more curious about the story behind it until he decided to turn his interest into action.
Jeff Bradford spent about a month researching and calling breweries.
He asked each one for the opportunity to spend time with them, work alongside them and understand the whole story and process behind their craft and products. “I got a lot of “No’s in the beginning,” says Jeff. Undeterred, he continued dialing until one brewery said “Yes.”
Off to Belgium he went, where he spent quality time at the Delirium Brewery learning all about their famous Pink Elephant brew. He loved every minute of that experience and soaked up every drop of knowledge -and beer– as possible.
“I couldn’t wait to do it again,” he says. The more people he shared his experience with, the more he began to be asked why he hadn’t videoed it.
Some things, says Jeff, are way out of his comfort zone. It’s one thing to serve in the Special Forces and be engaged in deadly combat. He’s used to that. But getting in front of a camera? That’s different. He was already overcoming discomfort by cold calling people and showing up at the first brewery to interview and learn from them. Still, he knew the idea was a solid one and set about preparing to level up with the same military-like precision he’d perfected during two decades of service.
This was not a lark for Jeff. It wasn’t an excuse to drink and get drunk in exotic places. It is his passion and his commitment to himself to turn this into a purpose. He’d gone all-in on the path. “People thought I was nuts,” he says. He didn’t let that bother him.
He sold all of his belongings, save for what he could carry. He budgeted his travels and work from his retirement pay and passive income from smart real estate investing he’d had the foresight to do. He wasn’t about to bring just anybody along with him, so he got busy and researched videographers until he found the perfect person, and off they went.
“It was the absolute best decision I could have made,” says Jeff Bradford.
It wasn’t easy letting go of his Harley or his car but it felt great to unload car payments and insurance payments. He didn’t miss all the responsibility that comes with owning things.
It was such a weight off my shoulders,” he says.
It was challenging to figure out where to do his limited laundry and he began to miss having some place to nest after a year of travel, but it was all worth it. Jeff drew upon his entire life experience, both as the oldest of 3 boys raised by a loving single mom and his military experience. Early in life, Jeff was cooking for his brothers, mowing lawns to make money, and moving from one place to another as his mother found different means to support her children. It was not easy but it instilled a grit and an entrepreneurial spirit in him that he drew upon as much as he drew upon the discipline he’d sharpened in the military.
Today Jeff is preparing to launch his series called Drink Destinations. The series takes his audience right along with him from one far away land to another. He shares in-depth behind the scenes stories and creativity behind select alcoholic beverages, educating people on the process of creating each one and the culture behind it. He’s an expert in the world of beer, wine, and spirits not just from his travels but from one course after another, he continues to take on all aspects of those topics.
Right now it is all still a labor of love and passion for what he does. He’s always known his chosen path is a long one, and he’s fine with that. With a growing following on social media and a growing expertise on his niche, Jeff is poised to explode on the entertainment and travel scene as if out of nowhere.
His series is close to launching and he is ready to pounce on opportunities to build it into the same household names as Anthony Bourdain, Guy Fieri, and the same success as Gary Vaynerchuck. With his drive and talent, and friends and mentors like Patrick Bet David and Bedros Keuilian, he has another critical tool for success: a network that supports, pushes, and inspires him to push past pain points in order to achieve a goal.
Jeff Bradford dedicated 20 years of his life defending freedom and the right to pursue happiness. Today he is building his own American Dream, and we’ll toast to his success.