What I Did in 2021 – Roberto Serrini Year In Review.

Quite a year last year … amid a pandemic with an uncertain future I found myself having perhaps the most interesting and meaningful year of my life. Everything has been deconstructed and has us all a bit more focused on what is our own personal reality. Looking back all I can say is thank you, because each day is a gift. Thank you to everyone that made last year so special, and here is to this year, where hopefully more magic continues to find it’s way into all our lives.

What did i do last year. oh boy. Well, my pandemic project of launching www.onemanonecamera.com kept me busy, having 30 projects in the can so far. Some literally.

To save time I made the short All The Pretty Things which featured a dozen brands all in one action packed 5 minute festival film. I call it advertising multitasking. I mean all those episodes of Workaholics aren’t going to watch themselves.

One of the products was an ultra rare quarter of a million dollar bike which we I did a separate doc on.

I got up to do a tiktok tricky piece for buzzfeed which was fun.

Then got freaky with freakmount by hanging babies, filming strippers, Juggalo scientists and armchair jet dudes. its a quality product.

There was of course things with wheels, Like this launch I did for Indians new FTR bike,

A quick edit for my Honda friends with their new line of ATVs

and a quick piece for Wolverine cinema digitizer. I mean it’s kinda a wheel, deal with it.

I got into the real-estate game with AirBnB, one of which was Conde Nast’s best Airbnb in LA … there goes my friends and family rate.

And got very coochie coochie coo as I helped launch the new Ray-Ban stories with Facebook.

and if we’re dropping names I did a big project with Netflix which I’d love to tell you about but I’m under NDA so yeah.

Last year I think we all nurtured an unhealthy relationship with food and booze, so I starting off with a new series about home bars. Shelter in place never looked so good.

I did a quick jam for Absolute where COVID was just a dream.

Then developed a show for the History Channel that explored the fascinating history about booze in America. It had it all … stop motion, fanciful animation, hardcore gotcha journalism, and this guy who’s been training to be the Bourdain of booze his whole life. I knew all that drinking in college would pay off mom.

non alcoholic but just as addictive I did a romantic branded doc for La Colombe coffee featuring chef Tim Hollingworth of Otium and his signature blend he crafted with them. They gave me a crate of coffee and I had the edit done in 23 minutes. #lifehack #roastandrender #caffinecutting

Crashing hard I did a few tasty films for Tasty, like this brie and butter … oh …. oh man. This got flagged a few times on the tok no cap.

I put my laughing cap on for Sweetfin, getting very serious about their new bento box like it was a BMW commercial circa 2004. All tuna interior. mmm.

I brought it back to the boot with a few Italian inspired films for Butter Pat Cast Iron. This is one job I didn’t mind retakes.

finally my torrid romance with Allen Brothers boiled over as we completed 13 heritage recipes with chef Olivier Rassinoux. No one told me in college that I’d have to rib eye, roasted bone marrow tordelli, and wagyu beef cheek risotto for work. I would have gotten better grades.

Putting on my dancing shoes I did a very surreal music video for Chris Sullivan of Joseph the Spouse and got smoke in my eyes with French rap group Kame House out in the desert

quick rando break. I was accepted into the Explorers Club, which is like Soho House for nerds, I bought this red 80’s looker, and started to learn blender. I made a bench. I know it’s not going to win any awards.

But what did win awards are some of my films (now that’s a segway) With 88 official selections and 26 wins my IMDB page is getting downright respectable. I think. I have no idea what any of this means. I did get this dope poster, LADbible shared one of my films which put me over the 10k mark, and I won not one, not two, but THREE Taste Awards which is like the Oscars for food and travel, their words not mine. I knew high cholesterol would pay off.

Alright lets talk travel. Somehow I found myself exploring Utah for Get Lost Magazine which launched their new digital platform, and DC discovering amazing nightlife and whatever the hell this is and with the smokiest and most fire steak I’ve ever had. Over to the Twin Cities to Fargo it up for 3M, and then down to Guatemala for Jet Blue to do a story on their maiden direct flight from NYC, where I explore the colorful sanatoria depths of Atitlan, the vibrant explosion of life in Chichicastenagno, and of course get my Zacapa rum hat on in Antigua.

My last destination was good ol Italy where I did a series of films for The Gold Hotel in on the Ligurian coast. The papers claimed I was seducing American to come visit. Well I do declare. Then Felini’d down to Rome to win at the Motorcycle Film Festival at Cinecita. While I had my best friends there we thought we should film episode 2 of Italy in Bocca.

So first we rented a 500 year old apartment on the Tiber and planned the ultimate roman meal from the cookbook series.

From there we went to the birthplace of the most roman pasta, Amatrice, which was sadly destroyed by an earthquake in 2016. The mayor took us around to the absolute best purveyor of guanciale and roman pecorino cheese needed to make this ambrosia, and somehow got the local nonnas to share her secrets with us.

Then we jumped over to Arricia which is the home of the por por por porchetta, where we learned the secrets behind this mouth gift from the gods.

Back in Rome I met with epicurean royalty like the only female Roman Michelin star chef Christina Bowerman , the vanguard behind the carciofi judiche at Nonna Betta, the oldest restaurant in Rome la Campana to learn carciofi romani, and the charming Michela Di Maria of my favorite restaurant Due Ladroni to learn the impossible truths of real roman cooking .

Overloaded with this profound knowledge we hit up the best specialty shops and fresh markets in Rome before returning to our ancient apartment to cook. Lemme tell you cooking in a 500 year old wood burning hearth is not like my Brevel toaster oven back in queens. Somehow we had the courage to invite my Roman family to dinner who actually know how to cook, and one very special guest. Rodo, who was the original illustrator of the cookbooks, who not only came, but gifted us two new illustrations which are so special to me I don’t even know what to say.

The entire night was magic. The fact that Me and my friends, who are complete nobodies, could reach out to all these people that share this common love for food, family and culture and bring it together just with our own passion is amazing. In fact, it was so special, such a perfect example of what life should be, that I ended up proposing to my girlfriend Jackie. I never thought 2021 would be such an amazing year, and all I can say is thank you, you all mean everything to me. Here’s to us all in 2022, no matter what comes at us.

One for the Road; The Bourdain of Booze.

That title may be pretentious but I’m a sucker for alliteration like most drunk poets (I’m looking at you Seamus Heaney). After a not-so-dry January, I’ve decided to take a look back at my long and wonderful love affair with alcohol.

My first drink was probably a drop of J&B on the gums as a teething baby. Although not Irish but Italian, no one puts grappa on a kid’s gums because that would be insane. Whiskey is the correct drink for a baby, this is a well known and documented fact. My real career in drinking began like most in college at UCSB (U Can Study Buzzed was thrown around often), where I was an avid reader of Hemingway because I loved the idea of making a living by writing drunk, boxing, and travelling the world. My drink of choice was a Rusty Nail, the drink my father called his favorite, a man who to this day claims he has never been intoxicated, and I can’t say I’ve ever seen him drunk. That said a Rusty Nail for me is 2 parts Scotch Whiskey to 1 part Drambuie and not to be messed with unless properly trained. I remember going to the legendary ancient jazz dive Arthur’s Tavern in NYC when I was 22 and asked the salty waitress for one. She paused giving me a hard look over and said plainly “you’re too young for a Rusty Nail, I’ll bring you a rum and coke” and proceeded to do so. Pure NYC.

a young, and perhaps sober Roberto, heading for Italy at 17.

From humble beginnings beautiful booze has brought me as many fond memories as it has clouded. I remember 50 cent giant cold Touborg beers on the veranda of a 16c. villa turned youth hostel just outside of Florence, falling in love with an Australian girl named Eva Toussaint. My parents, both airline employees, and Eva, just being an Australian, made a career of being a professional backpacker at very early ages, and like two international jet setters that didnt have two dimes to rub together between them, we would meet up in far-off places around the world in a blink of an eye for a shot and kanpai. Eventually I would move to Brisbane to be with her, fall in love deeper, be introduced to the true Dark and Stormy while watching the State of Origin on the tele, and ask her to marry me, all because of a cold Tuborg beer in Florence.

Unfortunately I was just turning 22. Man, writing that makes me laugh.

The proposal didn’t work out, I had to go back to the states and finish my degree and become a human. I left, heartbroken, unsure if I did the right thing, and confused about the future. Obviously I made a beeline for my local; Tom Bergan’s, the only real Irish bar in all of Los Angeles.

Tom Bergin’s was hallowed ground. It’s where I would go after a grueling day of work and school. My friends would pour in and we’d drink Guinness and Jameson all night, and when “Sweet Caroline” would come on the juke we would all pound the bar “Da Da Da, good times never seemed so good SO GOOD SO GOOD SO GOOD” like a drunk soccer chant (is there any other?). After 2 A.M. they would do a “lock in” with the regulars, and I would smoke cigs while my best friends Dave Hanson would talk about the plays he was writing (and later become a fantastic playwright) and Chris Sullivan would talk about the parts he would want to play (and become a famous actor) and I would talk about the places I wanted to go. We sat under the South-West corner of the U-shaped bar, beneath three green shamrocks cut out of a Mickey’s case of beer that had each of our names on it; a badge you were awarded if you were a true regular, and not easy to earn.

It was in Tom Bergin’s that my life would change forever over a drink.

I was there, crestfallen from recently breaking up with the first true love when I heard over the already rowdy bar the distinct intonation of an Australian. It’s an accent that is immediately recognized anywhere in the world, like the sound of a leaf blower or a glass breaking in a restaurant. In my semi-sauced state I saddled up to this nearly 7 foot lanky Aussie and made fast friends, as I knew I would with anyone from the great Oz, presumably to tell him of my woes and tales of love lost. Predictably our conversation turned to drinking at which point I made a startling discovery.

“You never had an Irish Car Bomb?”

There are few accolades I take true relish in. One is having a film in the permanent collection at the MoMA. Two is meeting Anthony Bourdain. Three is teaching an Australian something about drinking.

Jimmy the barkeep was always listening and without having to ask two half filled pints of Guinness and a shot of ice cold Baileys slid before us. We dropped our shots in the pints and opened our gullets to let the elixir slide down our throats. I can’t say it’s a drink I enjoy often, but I’m always amazed how much it taste like cake to me. Justin, the Australian, must have enjoyed it too because he never forgot this interaction, which would end up making my dreams come true.

A few years later I get an email from my long lost drinking buddy Justin saying that he runs a travel magazine in Australia, and remembers me telling him (somehow) that I was a writer and traveller. He was wondering if I would be interested in writing a local piece about NYC (where I was living at the time) for the mag. Boy was I.

I had never written an actual travel piece before but it came pretty naturally, especially about NYC a town I knew better than most others. Justin thought I was a natural and immediately started offering me other assignments. First hitting up random destinations like Memphis and Miami, then much more exotic ones like Peru and the Canadian Arctic. I have discovered rooftop Jellyfish Bars in Manila, elite speakeasies under the Little Nell in Aspen, and had muktuk shooters at the Northernmost Stripclub in the world. I have been writing with Get Lost Magazine for over a decade and have experienced some of the worlds most sublime adventures because of it, exploring the frozen North-West passage while sipping cold Corona’s in the hot tub on the deck a Russian Research (spy) ship. Drinking chicha (spit beer) along the Inca Trail while staying at the world’s most luxurious hike in lodges in the world, or a fermented ayahuasca drink in the Peruvian rainforest while studying Macaw parrots at the Tambopata Research Center. I’ve learned the secrets of distilling the northernmost whiskey in the world in Iceland (hint: it’s made with sheep dung). I’ve sailed to the illusive Marquesas islands in French Polynesia on a half cargo-half-luxury-liner named the Aranui and got tattooed by a chief in the bay where Melville wrote “Typee” while sipping warm champagne. I’ve eaten in the 3rd greatest restaurant in the world, Central, an elevation dining experience, and the oldest restaurant in the world, Botin, serving suckling pig for 500 years. I’ve done all of this because of a drink in a bar with a friend and never forget that.

Booze has intoxicated me more then just physically in my life and I would have it no other way. So here is a moment to look back at some of the finer moments I happened to document were a good drink has made magic happen.

3A.M. Shanghai Bar Tattoos

You know any video with me screaming “LET’S GET TATTOOS!” as I drinking snake infused baijui at 3 A.M. in a very dimly lit back alley Shanghai bar has to top a list somewhere.

Belgium is the Beer Capital of the World

Most every country makes a form of beer, from Makgeolli in Korea to Kvass in Russia, but in Belgium people’s viens run with barley and they bleed Lambics.

5 Oldest Bars in NYC

Good history only makes drinking better. NYC is rife with watering holes that precede the countries formation, and which is the oldest is seriously debated. One day in June I decided to get to the bottom of the debate and visit each one to hear first hand who could claim the crown.

Making 2000 year old Roman Vermouth.

Ancient history also only makes drinking better. During the pandemic with some time on my hands, my friend and I attempted to faithfully reproduce a 2000 year old recipe for vermouth found in one of the oldest cookbook in recorded history. All I can say is we didn’t go blind.

Booze is Better on a Boat.

Amsterdam might be best known for its smokable delights, but for me it was it’s rose colored ambrosia that stole my heart. Boat culture is something that many travellers overlook when exploring Amsterdam, which is a shame, because there is nothing more fun than cruising the canals with chilled rosé making new friends.

New Orleans

It’s hard not to think of drinking when you hear New Orleans, and for good reason because the streets run with rum down there. Fortunately I was with a Bywater local that showed me all the back alley spots locals wet their whistles at, letting me go full Bourdain in one of my favorite love letters to an amazing drink-centric city.

Spain Loves Monday Nights

Barcelona and Madrid both hold special places in my heart. Barcelona’s dolce far niente (or I guess dulce hace nada?) attitude rivals Madrid’s deep tradition of good living (they do have one of the best, and oldest, restaurants in the world). They also love a good party, and choose Monday as their day to let loose. Between Madrid’s “Fucking Monday” and Barcelona’s “Nasty Monday” it’s hard to choose where to be hung over on Tuesday (Hint: it’s Barcelona;)

Berlin is more than Brews

You know by now I’m a big fan of beer, but what I really like is finding the unusual, and if you can have a drink when you find it, all the better. So while travelling in Berlin we decided to scope out the more hidden gems, like a bar that serves drinks in a ketchup bottle, a bar that hasn’t been closed a day in over 40 years, and a parking-lot-bar-art-gallery that boasts the best view of the city.

Boston’s 5 Best Breweries

5 is a magic number for beers it seems, so when WOW airlines (remember WOW?) chose my friend and I to be travel ambassadors, the first exotic location they sent us was … Boston. I joke but Boston is one of my favorite towns, and if you even remotely like beer, you gonna love Boston, so we curated a brewery tour that took us to our favorite places and learn every variety the beer-centric Boston has to offer.

Jakarta’s Illusive Smokey Negroni

It’s usually pretty easy to find a drink anywhere I go in the world, save for one place: Jakarta. Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country, which means no demand for alcohol (which is largely illegal), so to find a bar, let along a booze temple that boasts a magical smoky Negroni, was a very unique find indeed and required on the spot documentation.

Edinburgh’s Scotch Malt Whiskey Society

In Leith, on the waterfront of Edinburgh, if you are fortunate enough to meet someone that is a member of “the secret vaults of the Scotch Malt Whiskey society”, you might be asked inside, and if you ever so gently ask to interview their caskmaster, he might be willing to talk casually over a delicious dram. Lotsa maybe’s went into this. (on a side note, I have to add in Flokí, the Northernmost whiskey distillery I visited in Iceland, who flavors their mash the old style, that being, with sheep dung. It’s … impressive)

Liquor in LA

Let’s get one thing straight. The greatest bar ever to grace Los Angeles is Tom Bergin’s. That said I would never make that information public on a YouTube video. I would offer three more elaborate pics to show off the flair and pageantry LA is known for. A stripmall speakeasy, a NYC dive in WeHo, and a rooftop looker should do the trick.

The Brewhaha

Lastly, a blast from the past, and one of my first videos I ever made. Back when craft beer culture began to explode I thought it would be a great idea to make a beer variety show called The Brewhaha. It had beer news, skits, some history, contents, and a reference to the Snooki on the Jersey Show (this was like over 10 years ago, give me a break). I produced, shot, and cut together a pilot episode, and learned a lot about beer in the process that I have a hard time remembering.

The Brewhaha – Sizzle


The Brewhaha – Pilot

This has been so much fun to write, I don’t even know how to put it in words. I’m lucky I made films of some of these experience, to keep the memories sharp and the colors vibrant in my mind. Alcohol has provided so many interesting experiences in my life, from professional ones like doing commercials for Belvedere, Absolut, and Guinness, to drinking parking lot “tuba” wine in Mindanao and driving from LA to Hyder, Alaska in a straight shot, only to get “hyderized” at a bar and drive back (I failed that midterm). It was never about getting drunk, it was always about learning and connecting with people and places through something that is rather universal. There are so many styles, techniques, and varieties of drink out there that stretch back to the beginning of human culture, and is such a part of the human existence.

So nice to look back at a life well drunk, and here’s to the next round. Here are some pics … each has a special story … all have a drink to go with them. Salute!

>> Roberto Serrini is a travel journalist and filmmaker for Get Lost Magazine. He has explored the world making hundreds of video you can watch on his YouTube Travelclast channel, and works professionally as a commercial director when not out getting lost.