Thad Vogler is best known for his Bay Area bars, Bar Agricole and Trou Normand, which feature tight, thoughtful spirits lists. His debut book, By The Smoke & The Smell: My Search for the Rare & Sublime on the Spirits Trail (Ten Speed Press, 2017), serves as a memoir, manifesto and travelogue, tracing his journeys through France\u2019s brandy-making regions, Scotland, Cuba and more. We talked with Vogler about his life of writing and traveling.\r\nWhat made you decide to write this book? \r\nI bartended for decades and had all these incredibly short conversations about things I\u2019m interested in\u2026 I had a thoughtful conversation with an agent who said why don\u2019t you do a memoir? And brought up a book that I love, the Kermit Lynch book, Adventures on the Wine Route, which is just a really cool wine book about trying to find stuff that was good, and the challenges of that. It\u2019s as much a travelogue as much a treatise on wine. That appealed to me.\r\n\r\nAs often as we can, we try to go and look and see what the real story is.\r\n\r\nWhat has been your favorite place to travel?\r\nFrance. We go every year, and we have relationships we renew every year. The group I travel with, it\u2019s very familial, so we have a real chemistry and a real history. It\u2019s like a reunion\u2026 You have lunch, you have cheese, it\u2019s just so civilized. It restores my faith in what we do.\r\n\r\n\r\nWhere are you headed next?\r\nI am going to Italy, to visit [vermouth producer] Bordiga. Vermouth is a huge component that\u2019s called for in tons and tons of old drink recipes\u2026 We often will like something, and want to use a lot of it, but as often as we can, we try to go and look and see what the real story is.\r\n\r\n\r\nThere\u2019s a line in your book: \u201cGood spirits are grown first.\u201d What do you want people to know about \u201cgrower spirits\u201d? \r\nI have seen people enjoy thinking about food on the plate that way, wine, now coffee: Wow, there\u2019s someone in another country that grew this stuff\u2026 I just wish people would see spirits the same way, and that marketplace would open up, and those producers would get the support they could use, and independent distilling would survive.\r\nTell us about Obispo, your new rum bar. \r\nI\u2019ve always loved the Caribbean, and I\u2019ve always loved rum. It\u2019s a troubled and difficult category of spirit. So much of it is junk. But when it\u2019s good, it\u2019s so good. And I\u2019ve enjoyed these moments in the rum-producing world. There\u2019s a relaxed way of eating and drinking that I\u2019ve wanted to take inspiration from\u2026The food[s] of these islands are really ideal for drinking. They\u2019re spicy, starchy stuff that stands up to booze.