An Interview with Sibling Authors André and Tenaya Darlington
Q: This is your third book together involving cockails. How did BOOZE & VINYL come about?
A: We've always loved vinyl, and the connection between hospitality and music runs deep for us. After watching hundreds of classic films and pairing them with cocktails for our last book, Movie Night Menus (Running Press, 2016), we asked ourselves, "Okay, when else do people kick back and drink cocktails at home?" Everyone we know is listening to vinyl again, so we lit on the idea of writing a listening party guide. This project was an absolute blast -- music and cocktails are in our blood!
T: Our dad was a professional musician and a vinyl collector. When we were kids, he played records every night and hosted listening parties with his friends. My earliest memories are a swirl of adults drinking cocktails on couches (usually gin and tonics) while André and I took turns flipping records on our dad's Thorens turntable.
Q: Did you discover a favorite album while working on this project?
A: I have a whole new appreciation for Bruce Springsteen. I'd listened to him since childhood, but I didn't expect to put on Born to Run quite as often as I did while working on this book. Call it a revitalized addiction. I think in context of all the other albums, I heard its raw originality in a new way. I feel like I finally 'got' Springsteen. That, and a re-kindled love for R.E.M.'s Automatic for the People. I loved the album when it came out, but didn't expect to connect with it so much twenty-five years later. It's aged so, so well.
T: Carol King’s Tapestry became one of my faves while we were writing this book – it’s so full of warm feeling and bright energy. It's exactly what I want to listen to on a Sunday afternoon or when I need a change of mood. King’s voice glows with a heartfelt ordinariness that I connect to -- it's like overhearing a friend sing to you. And the songs are so reassuring. I'm thinking of “Beautiful” and “You’ve Got a Friend” -- those tracks are like Sesame Street songs for grown-ups, in a good way! Amazingly, King was the first solo female artist to win Record of The Year, which is fascinating since this album is not sexy or flashy in any way. It's just pure comfort. Also, I love the Tapestry album cover. When I look at King curled up on a window seat and staring out her rainy window, I just want to sit down and write.
Q: Do you have a favorite cocktail in the book?
A: I fell in love with a cocktail called the Moon Walk, which was created by the Savoy Hotel's bartender Joe Gilmore to commemorate Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon. We appropriated it for side A of Jacko's "Thriller." It's Grand Marnier, grapefruit juice, rose water and bubbles. Delicious!
T: I really love the Swan Cocktail that we paired with Bjork's debut album. It's a pre-Prohibition recipe from the bar at The Waldorf, and it's strange and elegant, just like Bjork. It calls for gin, dry vermouth, absinthe, fresh lime juice, simple syrup and Angostura bitters. No one's heard of it, but it's just gorgeous.
Q: How did you come up with a Side A and Side B cocktail for each album?
A: Sometimes, the pairings follow an album's entire mood. In other instances they follow a particular song, such as the Bohemian Cocktail for Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."
T: Every album in the book has a themed listening party -- from dance parties to chill-out grill-outs -- so we tried to choose drinks that fit a vibe. For example, we think of Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life" as THE album you want to play before you go out to see a live show. While you're primping in the bathroom to side A, you want a Dirty Martini perched on the edge of the sink. By the time you flip to Side B, you're ready for a Corpse Reviver.
Q: Can you describe the range of albums and also the range of cocktails in the book?
A: These are simply some of the greatest albums ever pressed to wax! But also we wanted to make this a collection of listenable, widely accessible albums that represent a good diversity of styles and genres. We've included everything from Robert Johnson to Interpol, AC/DC to Joni Mitchell. The cocktails cover pretty much the crucible of important, simple-to-make American mixed drinks -- plus some sleeper hits.
T: There are a lot of 2- and 3-ingredient recipes in the book. You want to be listening, not spending all your time in the kitchen. But you'll also find some party pleasers, like the medieval punch that goes with Led Zeppelin (come on, you know you want to channel some druids!) and the Fish Bowls we developed for Wilco's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot." We wanted that drink to actually taste good, so we figured out how to make a Fish Bowl without sour mix. It's a great party drink.
Q: What are are some favorite listening party pairings?
A: Digging, we found the cocktail menu for Max's Kansas City in New York -- the spot where all the cool bands used to hang out. The cocktail for Blondie in the book is the Blondie Cocktail straight off the menu at Max's when Debbie Harry and crew were hanging out there! There's also a Brass Monkey for the Beastie Boys, of course. I also love the Hellfire Punch pairing for Led Zeppelin. It's a historically accurate recipe from this 18-century group of miscreants in London called the Hellfire Club. Cocktail historian David Wondrich presented this recipe at Tales of the Cocktail in 2016, and it just fits perfectly with what the band was into while recording "IV."
T: I love our pairings for The Doors' first album, which we themed out as a "Psychadelic Sleep-over." Side A is a Whiskey Daisy -- a franken-daisy of sorts made with whiskey, Cointreau, lemon juice, and soda water. It's served in a tall glass with an orange wheel and a sprig of mint -- very refreshing to sip on during "Light My Fire." Side B is a Bijou. I absolutely love a Bijou -- it's got a neon green cast. Very trippy, very 1967.
What makes a great listening party?
A: A good drink! But also a comfortable place to sit, a block of time free of distractions, and open ears.
T: Low lights, floor pillows, good drinks, nosh, and a few cool friends who can slide between mellow and spontaneous, no problemo.