The Brandenburg

We’re commemorating the dedication Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos in true A&R fashion: with a cocktail (and score)! On March 24, 1721 Bach gave us six concertos that would become benchmarks of Baroque music. On March 24, 2019 we’re returning the favor with a delicious Black Forest twist on a classic Manhattan.

The Brandenburg is a hearty and festive triumvirate of cherry, chocolate, and bourbon inspired by German Black Forest cake and Doppelbock beers, as well as Bach’s penchant for all things “three.”

Velvety, bittersweet crème de cacao and Kirshwasser (a cherry brandy from Germany’s Black Forest region) were selected to add subtle chocolate and cherry undertones to the sweet, oaky bourbon base. These three spirits combine to create a cocktail delightfully reminiscent of a Black Forest cake, without entering into dessert cocktail territory. Like a rich and weighty German Doppelbock, the Brandenburg’s sweetness is perfectly balanced by a touch of bitterness, provided here by the chocolate and cherry liqueurs, resulting in a joyous and robust blend of flavors.

Chocolate bitters were added to entice the nose, hinting at vanilla and cinnamon, and a dash of Cherry Heering for an extra pop of sweet cherry flavor. A brandied cherry garnish was the perfect finishing touch to harken back to the classic Manhattan cocktail and complete another Bachian set of three.

The Brandenburg is a simple, everyday cocktail that (much like the music of Bach) is timeless, sophisticated, and spirit forward.

THE BRANDENBURG

Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces bourbon

  • 1/2 ounce crème de cacao

  • 1/2 ounce Kirschwasser

  • 1/4 ounce Cherry Heering

  • 1 dash chocolate bitters

  • 1 brandied cherry garnish

Instructions:

Stir ingredients with ice until well chilled, strain into a small coupe glass, and enjoy while listening to one of the joyous and hearty Brandenburg concertos!

Note: much of the drink’s sweetness comes from the Cherry Heering. Tread cautiously if you happen to be sweet-adverse; you can always add more after testing.

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New score: Brandenburg Three

Our latest arrangement, Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major, is available now!

The Brandenburg Concertos were originally dedicated to a German nobleman in an attempt to land the court composer gig in Brandenburg. In Bach's dedication (dated March 24, 1721) he noted the Margrave’s interest in “the little talents which Heaven has given me for Music.” Despite Bach’s undeniable talent (and adorable modesty) the nobleman never responded. Yes— even brilliant composers like Bach get left on “Read.” 😆 The pieces (eventually sold for about $20) sat on a library shelf for over a century, but have since become one of Bach’s best known works.

After learning and recording Max Reger's 1905 arrangement, we were inspired to create a more readable, pianistic arrangement of the piece. The result: a tidy four-hand arrangement of one of the greatest glories of baroque instrumental music.

Enjoy!

Pro tip: start hitting the gym now to build up your forearms. #ouch #feeltheburn 💪

 
 

What a Wonderful World

Hot on the heels of Oblivion, we’re back with another new music video. In contrast to the dark and sultry tango, enjoy the sweet simplicity of “What a Wonderful World.”

No tricks or fancy editing in this video. Our intention from the outset was to highlight the natural beauty of the film’s two BIG stars: the “Beartooth Portal” at the Tippet Rise Art Center and our piano/four-hand arrangement of Louis Armstrong’s classic song.

“What a Wonderful World” is sweetly tender and full of wonder, and its opening melody is famously is based on another classic song… you guessed it: “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” As a nod to the flowers described in the song's lyrics, our arrangement includes brief allusions to "Lilacs" by Sergei Rachmaninoff.

From the charming chirping of the native birds to the striking landscape and impressive skies, we knew instantly that the Tippet Rise mountainside was the perfect location to film a video proclaiming the wonders of the world. We adore the juxtaposition of the man-made elements (Ensamble Studio’s stunning, sky-high sculpture; a sleek Steinway Model D; and Liz’s outrageous gown 😍) against Montana’s rugged, rolling hills. To top it off, the sun arrived on set as if on cue, adding yet another dramatic, natural element.

Lose yourself in the timeless beauty of “What a Wonderful World,” and enjoy a few behind-the-scenes pics below.

Oblivion

It’s been 12 years since our first music video and we’ve come full circle with another sensuous Piazzolla tango, this time his dark and brooding Oblivion! (#10YearChallenge #challengeaccepted)

A sense of wistful nostalgia permeates this tango, arguably Piazzolla’s most popular work, as the dancers grasp for the last threads of passion. 😘Our arrangement has Liz circling the piano, exploring the forbidden, and hunting for harmonics on the piano strings (that are impossibly challenging to find!)… all of which played well to the camera.

Sing then the core of dark and absolute oblivion where the soul at last is lost in utter peace.

D. H. Lawrence

Whip up a blissfully bitter Tango Amargo cocktail then sit back and enjoy the magnificent melancholy of Oblivion…

Oblivion

Heavy, suddenly they seem heavy
the linen and velvets of your bed
when our love passes to oblivion

Heavy, suddenly they seem heavy
your arms embracing me
formerly in the night

My boat parts, it's going somewhere
people get separated,
I'm forgetting, I'm forgetting

Later, at some other place in a mahogany bar
the violins playing again for us
our song, but I'm forgetting

Later, it splits off to a cheek to cheek
everything becomes blurred and
I'm forgetting, I'm forgetting

Brief, the times seem brief
the countdown of a night
when our love passes to oblivion

Brief, the times seem brief
your fingers running all over
my lifeline.

Without a glance
people are straying off
on a train platform,
I'm forgetting, I'm forgetting

-poem/lyrics by Astor Piazzolla & Angela Denia Tarenzi

The Tango Amargo

Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us and Musical Mixology is back with a brand new recipe to meet all your (anti-)Valentine’s needs. The Tango Amargo is a rich, complex, and blissfully bitter drink concocted especially for all the sexy singles, cynics, and contrarians out there. It also pairs perfectly with the music of Astor Piazzolla and our seductive new music video featuring our arrangement of his Oblivion.

We spent many evenings searching for just the right cocktail to complement the dark, sexy undercurrents of Piazzolla’s endlessly passionate music. His tangos conjure up a complex mix of emotions and we wanted a recipe that captured all the contradictions of yearning. We also sought to incorporate Italian and Argentinian liquors in homage to Piazzolla’s roots. The chamomile, bitter orange, and myrrh-infused Fernet Branca (an Argentinian staple) came instantly to mind, but also presented a challenge given its bold flavors. Cue the voluptuous red hue and sapid bitterness of Campari! To that we added artichoke-based Cynar, an herbal gin, and the elegant Dolin Blanc Vermouth for balance. The Tango Amargo begins sweet, then turns dark and bitter; it’s the perfect cocktail for your anti-Valentine’s Day fete this Singles Awareness Day (Isn’t that… S.A.D. for short? 😜).

(For those who can stomach this happy holiday "straight up,” our sweet and bubbly Elixir of Love is the quintessential Valentine’s Day cocktail. Lovebirds and spurned lovers alike will also adore a batch of The Rachmaninoff Heartbreak.)

THE TANGO AMARGO

Based on “Eeyore’s Requiem” by Toby Maloney of Chicago’s Violet Hour

Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz Campari

  • 0.5 oz gin

  • 0.25 Cynar

  • 0.25 Fernet Branca

  • 1 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth

  • 15 drops or 0.2 oz orange bitters

Instructions:

Stir with ice until well chilled, then strain into a serving glass (coupe or cocktail glass). Drink yourself into Oblivion.