Guitarist Gary Clark Jr.: Drinking Rules

The Grammy-winning guitarist talks about enjoying whiskey neat, his favorite party song, and how he knew his wife was the right woman for him.

What do you like to drink? “It’s whiskey. That’s about it for me.”

How do you like your liquor? “I’m a spirits-neat type of guy.”

Is there a musician dead or alive that you would like to have a drink with? “Oh, man, that is a great question. Clifford Antone, he’d started a nightclub in Austin and he would always tell stories about hanging out with some of the blues guys, like Ben E. King and Albert Collins. They would hang out and drink whiskey and play cards. So I think I would want to sit down with Ben E. King and have a drink.”

Are you specific about ice quality? “I appreciate fine ice, but I’m not too picky to be honest with you.”

You are working with Jameson on a concert series, called Jameson Music. Why do you think Irish whiskey has gotten so popular recently? “It goes down pretty smooth. For the most part, I have a great time when I have it. It goes along well with a good time.”

Are you a fan of shots? “I wouldn’t recommend taking multiple shots of anything.”

Do you drink before performing? “I haven’t been having anything before I preform. If a set is going well, I might have a little sip of something. But for the most part, I like to be clear headed.”

Do you check out the local nightlife in the cities you travel through on tour? “If we do stay overnight, I’ll definitely end up wandering around… if I can. I’m still excited about traveling and checking out different scenes and, hopefully, catching a live band.”

Is your wife, model Nicole Trunfio, a whiskey drinker, too? “Yeah. That was a nice bond. We went to a bar, we were in New York. I asked her what she was drinking and she said Jameson and ginger. I said, that’s it for me. We’re hanging out.”

Do you frown upon the mixing of whiskey with soda or ginger ale? “Oh, man. I’m not going to judge anybody. You could put Kool-Aid in it if you want to and I don’t care.”

Do you like to drink whiskey while you eat? “I like to have a drink before, while I’m waiting. Eat, and then I’ll have one after. I don’t really like to drink alcohol with my food.”

What song gets a party going? “Curtis Mayfield, ‘Move On Up.’ That’s a good one. It puts people in a good mood.”

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Find the Drinking Rules of other famous tipplers.

Interview has been condensed and edited.