Dan Aykroyd is a busy guy. He's a comedic hero, having graduated from Saturday Night Live to create and star in the blockbuster likes of The Blues Brothers and Ghostbusters. He's also made his name as a blues musician and an entrepreneur through the co-founding of the House of Blues chain. He's been in Australia, though, promoting another of his passions - vodka. GT caught up with him while he was in Sydney promoting his Crystal Head vodka to talk drinks, parties and his singular take on bush tucker.
GT: Welcome to Australia, Dan. Have you visited before?
DA: Never have. Just love the people and the architecture and the parks and the whole feeling of the city - the sophistication. It's one of the greatest international cities I've ever been in.
Where have you been eating and drinking since you've been in town?
Nomad. We had lunch over there; it was really wonderful. They've got a nice kitchen and a wood-fired oven. They make the bread there, and they butter it with this beautiful black-salted butter. You could just sit there eating slices of that.
The vodka came out of me looking into the vodka world and saying, "Why do these products smell like this? I've got to get something better."
What's with the bottle? It's inspired by the legend of the 13 crystal heads, right?
We did it because the legend of the crystal heads is about positive energy - enlightenment. The Mayans, the Navajos and the Aztecs were all supposed to have had these in legend and the heads were used to forward the tribe in a positive manner. Crystals have storage properties and the shaman would look inside them - he would see the future, the past and the present - to analyse how the tribe would move forward. We felt this positive energy would help our legend as we went out to sell this pure spirit, this clean spirit, this really superb and superior product.
So what do you drink when you're not drinking vodka?
I love wines. I like to drink red wine and white wine. I love a cold beer now and again and, of course, I do drink a Patrón. I love having a party and at the end of the dinner party serving Patrón XO Cafe.
What, for you, are the elements of a good party?
The people: it doesn't matter where it is, if you've got the right people. Preferably an outdoor space, a really good smoker and a barbecue - smoked turkey, smoked trout, smoked chicken, smoked meat; the grill for chops, steaks, swordfish and salmon. Then probably whipped parsnips, whipped turnips. Music: preferably a good old live R 'n' B band like Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, or Keith Hall - the great Australian blues man. Then, of course, good wines - good reds and whites to complement everything. A tub full of beer and a dance floor and basically just let it go.
What do you look for in a restaurant?
Hole in the ground, genuine food, ethnic food. I like the out-of-the-way places that are dependable. I went to a restaurant on the French-Spanish border - a truck stop in a back road that you would have a hard time finding with a GPS. It sold simple Basque trucker food, but fresh salads and delicious grills and beautiful wines. It was really outstanding and it cost all of 30 bucks.
Do you have any down-time while you're here in Australia?
I'd like to drive out into the desert and put the pedal to the metal and go out and hit a kangaroo and cook the haunch. People eat it… If I killed a kangaroo with my car I wouldn't waste it; I'd prepare it and, of course, I'd have the greatest Australian wines with it by the side of the road with a crackling campfire.