Good Read: Booze and Vinyl out now
One indicator of true passion is immersion.
A lot of people drink beer, of course. It’s one of America’s favorite beverages. But fewer people immerse themselves in it — read about beer stories, house beer style apps on their phones, dabble in homebrewing, or get texts from friends about what bottle to pair with chilaquiles. I hesitate to use the word expert, since there is always something new to learn, but I am certainly fluent in beer. It is my passion.
On the other hand, I am by no means a cocktail expert. I have developed a critical palate for spirits and mixed drinks, and I have an understanding of what makes a quality cocktail program. That’s where my capabilities end; I consider myself a casual enjoyer when it comes to booze.
What better way to enjoy the at-home bar than with music? Booze and Vinyl, a new book by the sister-brother duo Tenaya and Andre Darlington, sets up anyone with a cocktail shaker for success with this creative spin. The resurgence of vinyl as a listening modality is no longer new, but it has become more mainstream, and it’s not going anywhere. The same could be said for the DIY cocktail movement.
Far from intimidating, Booze and Vinyl takes a pragmatic approach to the home bar with few hard-to-find ingredients but plenty of intriguing combinations (I fell head-over-heels for Crème de Violette).
Booze and Vinyl is not just a cocktail recipe book. It’s more of a gathering recipe book, with tips on ambiance and backstory about the classic album pairings. Each album has two suggested pairings, “liner notes,” comments on the cocktails, and more. This sets the stage for an instant party. For example: Prince’s Purple Rain + Cross-dressing Party (is that a thing?) + “Before you drop the needle: Raid the closet of your best friend of the opposite sex.”
We didn’t raid any closets, but we did do a bit of living room dancing while enjoying the Side A pairing, Aviation. It was my first time using potent Maraschino liqueur, and it really makes this combination sing. There is room to play with the gin profile – we tried both New Holland Knickerbocker for a wallop of juniper and lemon, as well as Ranch Road, which lies low.
This book is brilliantly successful for a few reasons. First, most music buffs and even casual audiophiles will not have to buy records to enjoy a few paired drinks. That’s because the book uses a combination of classic favorites and modern hits. Second, I found something satisfying – almost addictive – about the tactile nature of tending bar and spinning vinyl that made the two jive together naturally (just wash your hands in between).
Side B: Fallen Angel with rum, triple sec, cranberry juice, lemon juice and sparkling wine. We opted for dry cider.
One pairing was particularly synergistic, though the weather prohibited the suggested bonfire. The liner notes for The Joshua Tree by U2 set the stage for what otherwise would have been a familiar album with an approachable cocktail. “Beautiful and introspective with a sweeping yet minimalist feel, The Joshua Tree captures the gnarled image of the heroic twisted desert shrub to create a monumental album full of grace and resistance in the face of adversity.”
The Desert Derby, which is credited to Los Angeles’ Vendome Club with a riff by Bon Appetit magazine, combines whiskey, grapefruit, honey, and sage. The herb echoes the scorched flora of the album’s cover.
Songs in the Key of Life, a favorite double album at my house, is paired with two bright, buoyant sippers. The Side A suggestion is more ambitious — it’s a green juice with booze. I stocked up on produce, neglecting to realize I don’t actually own a juicer. The results were still passable with the blend and strain method. The savory combination met perfectly with the stylings of Stevie Wonder.
Finally, for a level of zen just shy of nirvana, explore the cocktail combinations for Bon Iver’s For Emma Forever Ago: the prohibition-era Last Word and Canadian bastardization of mulled wine, the Caribou. The first cocktail doesn’t feel like a breakup in winter, the inspiration for the album, but instead feels like an antidote to it. We substituted J. Carver Everlasting Absinthe for the Green Chartreuse. Side B, below, is the most cozy mixed drink I have ever sipped, though I was apprehensive while mixing:
Red wine, Quebecois maple syrup, rye whiskey. Consensus? Surprisingly good cold or warm.
Booze and Vinyl is available for pre-order now through Running Press. Copies release in select locations tomorrow, April 17th, in time for Record Store Day. More information about the authors — food, drink, and music enthusiasts, naturally — can be found on their website.