The drinks of Breaking Bad
To mark 10 years since the final episode of Breaking Bad aired, db looks at some of the drinks, from the finest Champagne to lethal Tequila, that made an appearance in the acclaimed AMC series.
The cultural legacy of Breaking Bad is difficult to overstate. While the series’ popularity was slow to take off when it premiered in 2008, the advent of streaming, as well as the show’s numerous accolades, has meant that its place in the public consciousness endures – the tragic tale of Walter White, who went from meek and mild-mannered to a brutal kingpin and then to nothing, still strikes a chord a decade on.
Here, we list some of the wines, beers and spirits that made an appearance during the show’s five seasons, which concluded on 29 September 2013 with the broadcast of the finale, Season Five, Episode 16: ‘Felina’. Vince Gilligan famously chose every detail in the show for a reason, and the drinks are no exception.
WARNING: CONTAINS PLOT SPOILERS
Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill – Season Four, Episode Three: ‘Open House’
There are few finer ways to toast the successful acquisition of a carwash to launder your ill-gotten gains than with vintage Champagne.
Walter White is shown to be something of a Second World War buff earlier in the series when he tells former student Jesse Pinkman about the history behind thermite when the hapless duo try to steal a barrel of methylamine. His appreciation for history is shown again when he opts for a cuvée made in honour of the Champagne-swigging wartime leader.
His wife, Skyler (yo), does not take the purchase of the US $320 bottle of celebratory fizz so well, worried that it will raise questions concerning how Walt, an unemployed school teacher, afforded it, but acknowledges that the best course of action is to “destroy the evidence” through ingestion.
The 2015 vintage of Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill was recently released, though the vintage consumed in the show is not clear.
Jive Turkey – Season Four, Episode Two: ‘Thirty-Eight Snub’
The fictional Jive Turkey whiskey, presumably a pastiche of Wild Turkey, is what handyman in black Mike Ehrmantraut enjoys, as much as Mike can enjoy anything, on the rocks before then beating up Walt, which, one suspects, he did actually enjoy quite a bit.
Knob Creek – Season Five, Episode Eight: ‘Gliding Over All’
Hank Schrader is a fan of many things: his wife Marie, busting criminals, and rocks (sorry, I mean minerals). However, as evidenced by his home bar, he’s also partial to a Bourbon.
What can be ascertained about Hank from his choice of whiskey? Well, he’s a straight shooting, no nonsense American man who occasionally needs a double of something strong to steady the nerves. Interestingly, he does not have his on the rocks whereas Walt does on this occasion – there is a theory that after Walt kills someone, in this case Mike, he adopts a trait of their’s, in this case having ice with his whiskey.
Schraderbräu – Season Two, Episode Five: ‘Breakage’ and Season Two, Episode 13: ‘ABQ’
Of course, if we’re on the topic of what ASAC Schrader likes to drink, we mustn’t overlook his garage-brewed beer, Schraderbräu.
Stylistically a Märzen (a Bavarian lager), when we are first introduced to the drink it seems that Hank still hasn’t quite got the hand of the chemistry, as a probable carbonation error causes a batch to explode in the night, triggering his PTSD when he mistakes it for gunfire. Hank later offers a six-pack of the beer to help raise funds for Walt’s treatment.
The character of Hank has become so popular that actor Dean Norris has made Schraderbräu a reality – though, unfortunately, it appears to be sold out at the moment (but Hank fans can still pick up merchandise for the brand).
Tequila Special Gold – Season Two, Episode 10: ‘Over’
If you want an insight into the petty, vindictiveness of Walter White, see him when he is drunk. Just as later in the series (Season Four, Episode Five: ‘Shotgun’) when Walt drinks too much red wine at a dinner party and proceeds to reveal his own insecurities when Hank, inadvertently, gives a rival the credit for Heisenberg’s success, in this scene Walt lashes at out Hank due to the close relationship he has with his son, Walt Jr. In forcing his 16-year-old son to drink shots of cheap Tequila Special Gold, a brand that appears to have been concocted by the prop department, to excess, we are shown a glimpse of the man Walt is becoming.
Zafiro Añejo – Season Four, Episode 10: ‘Salud’
Revenge is a tipple best served in a shot glass, and preferably by a pool. When the two faced Gus decides to wipe out Don Eladio and the cartel, he does it with the icy charm and deviousness that only the chicken man can deliver. The episode title, which is a toast of good health, is, of course, laced with irony, as the precious liquid inside has, in fact, been laced with poison – on the plus side, it saves a headache the following morning. It is perhaps a metaphor for Gus: immaculate presentation with a deadly secret within.
The bad news for those seeking to make a splash at their next work drinks is that Zafiro Añejo Tequila is a fictional product – probably for the best considering the brand damage Gus’ use of it could do. The spirit also plays a role in spinoff series Better Call Saul, with Kim Wexler and Jimmy McGill keeping the spiky agave-shaped stopper from a bottle as a trophy from a successfully-executed scam. Jimmy, AKA Saul Goodman, is a noted fan of the Rusty Nail cocktail, consisting of Scotch and Drambuie.
When it comes to drinking for pleasure, rather than vengeance, Gus is quite the wine connoisseur, as evidence when he orders a 1978 Côte-Rôtie in Season Six, Episode Nine ‘Fun and Games’ of spinoff series Better Call Saul. The reasoning behind why this particular wine was chosen was theorised by Screen Rant. When he has his somewhat awkward Chilean fish stew dinner with Walt, it is unclear what Gus served – perhaps a Casablanca Sauvignon Blanc to pair.
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Fortunately for Breaking Bad fans, actors Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston have since cooked up a mezcal of their own, inspired by their time together in New Mexico.
Launched in 2019, the brand, rather literally meaning “two men” in Spanish, has gone from strength to strength, and is a testament both to the strength of the celebrity back agave spirits category, but also of the show’s enduring popularity.