Musical Mixology

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.

The Mambo!

Musical Mixology is back with a fun and festive Caribbean cocktail in honor of Leonard Bernstein's 100th birthday (this Saturday, August 25, 2018)! A zesty twist on a classic rum punch, we crafted The Mambo's big flavors to match the bold rhythms and sassy kick of the "Mambo" from Lenny's West Side Story.

The sweetness of fresh tropical juices reside at the forefront of this cheery tribute, and they're perfectly balanced by the subtle heat of homemade ginger syrup and Puerto Rican spice. Whether you're looking for a little liquid courage (to help make your way to the dance floor!) or extra pep in your step, a couple quick shots are the perfect accompaniment to your favorite rendition of Bernstein's "Mambo."

THE MAMBO!

Yield: 1 full cocktail (or 3-4 small “shooters”)
 

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Bacardi White Rum (or another Puerto Rican white rum)
  • 1.5 oz orange juice
  • 1.5 oz pineapple juice
  • 0.5 oz lime juice
  • 0.5 oz ginger syrup (see below)
  • dash grenadine
  • pinch adobo seasoning (Puerto Rican spice blend)
     

Instructions

Combine the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake until well chilled. Strain into an ice-filled glass (or shot glasses, if making shooters!) and sprinkle with a pinch of adobo seasoning. A store-bought bottle of this Puerto Rican spice blend provides plenty of punch, but you can also easily whip up a homemade blend from equal parts of these common ingredients: black pepper, onion powder, oregano, cumin, coriander, and turmeric.
 

Ginger syrup recipe

Add 1/2 cup fresh ginger juice with 1 cup superfine sugar to a blender and blend until sugar is dissolved. Make fresh ginger juice with a juicer or by finely grating fresh ginger, wrapping it in a thin cotton towel or cheesecloth, and squeezing out the juice.

This is the perfect recipe for summer entertaining! It's a breeze to prepare in a big batch for parties and is also delicious as a family-friendly virgin cocktail. By simply replacing the rum with coconut water, you can craft a zippy juice cocktail that everyone can enjoy.

Bottoms up!

-Greg

The Rachmaninoff Heartbreak

Musical Mixology is back to celebrate the lush beauty of early summer with our latest cocktail, The Rachmaninoff Heartbreak. We crafted this deeply romantic drink, in part, to celebrate the release of our latest music video, "The Night... The Love..." as well as the appearance of Rachmaninoff's gorgeous Suite No. 1 for Two Pianos on our latest album, Mother.

Pinot noir (the heartbreak grape), chocolate, apricots, and cognac come together to create this earthy and sensual drink worthy of Rachmaninoff’s romanticism. The drink is less dessert-like than the ingredient list may suggest; it's lightly sweet, juicy, smoky, and totally luxurious — perfect to pair with Rachmaninoff's sumptuous harmonies and passionate lyricism. One sip of this delightful craft concoction will send you drifting on the evening breeze like night-blooming jasmine. Drink up and get lost in:

THE RACHMANINOFF HEARTBREAK

Adapted from "Chocolate Wine" from Ryan Chetiyanwardana's Good Things to Drink
Yield: 6-7 drinks

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle pinot noir (earthy, fruit forward, not too tannic)
  • 6 oz cognac
  • 0.5 oz peaty single-malt scotch (lower-end, like Laphroaig, is fine)
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar (just less than 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • 5 dried apricots
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
  • pinch of salt

Instructions:

  • Stir ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl
  • Cover and heat on high power in the microwave for 3 minutes (I’ve tried cooking this over a stovetop, but the flavors infused better in the microwave.) 
  • Allow to cool, then strain (Keep the apricots to serve as small hors d’oeuvres with the drink. So good!)
  • Refrigerate until cold
  • Serve in a wine glass with 2-3 cubes of ice

Helpful hint: I've made this cocktail several times and much prefer to use softer dried apricots over those that are chewy and completely dried. 

The Rachmaninoff Heartbreak is perfect for fueling a budding summer romance or soothing a broken heart. Whether sharing in passion or pathos, this cocktail is best paired with an assortment of hors d'oeuvres (think fresh and dried fruits, nuts, cheese, chocolates!) and our music video "The Night... The Love...", featuring Rachmaninoff's Suite No. 1 for Two Pianos. 😉

Enjoy!

-Greg

Musical Mixology: The Rite of Spring

You must be parched! It’s been unbearably long since my last Musical Mixology post, but the wait is over. To quench your thirst and celebrate the DVD release of "The Rite of Spring: A Musical Odyssey," I’ve finally crafted not one, but two “Rite of Spring” cocktails recipes. With our film production still fresh in mind, and May 29th being the 104-year anniversary of The Rite of Spring’s premiere, now seemed the perfect time to reflect on Stravinsky’s masterwork and allow its lessons of risk and sacrifice inspire equally daring mixology concoctions.

Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring will push any listener’s body and spirit to the brink, and as a performer/film producer, the piece is a real kick in the ass. As such, I aimed to craft a cocktail that could embody the visceral, raw power of the music… a drink that could approximate the incendiary rush of creation. Behold:

THE RITE OF SPRING COCKTAIL 1

Ingredients:

  • LOTS of VODKA

Instructions:

  • Pair with a performance of Stravinsky’ Rite of Spring
  • Take one shot before music commences.
  • Down a second shot immediately before “The Sacrificial Dance.”
  • Repeat as necessary.
  • 😬

For the more adventurous bartender, we have a more sophisticated, earthy brew inspired by the “Rite’s” climactic centerpiece, “The Dancing Out of the Earth.” The cocktail aspires to represent the explosion of springtime… a swirling dance of delirium, harmony, and ecstasy. Rye is the base, chosen for its dryness and hint of spice that pairs nicely with the woodiness of Birkir snaps, an Icelandic birch liqueur made by Foss Distillery. St-Germain adds spring florals and calls to mind the “Rite’s" Parisian premiere. Most significantly, the cocktail is rounded out with a charred tarragon leaf, imparting an herbal smokiness to the drink… and hinting at the flames to come. 
 

THE RITE OF SPRING COCKTAIL 2

(based on a recipe by Matthew Itkin)

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces rye whiskey
  • 1 ounce Birkir snaps
  • 1/2 ounce St-Germain liqueur
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • 1 tarragon leaf

Instructions:
Pour first four ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice and stir. Strain into a coup glass. Using tongs, char a tarragon leaf over a flame and float over the cocktail as a fragrant garnish.
 

Watch our DVD "The Rite of Spring: A Musical Odyssey” with one of these cocktails in hand to quench your thirst and delight—or overwhelm!—your senses.

- Greg

The Amadeus Affair

Mozart’s no spring chicken — he’s turning 260 this month! — but his work retains a youthful freshness everyone can enjoy (and envy…). I’ve concocted a youthful cocktail to swig alongside the Big Bad Wolfie’s most effervescent music. (We’ll drown our sorrows in the the D-minor Piano Concerto and the Requiem another day…) 

The drink is several years and many tipsy evenings in the making. In fact, we originally intended to pair the drink recipe with the release of our album, An Amadeus Affair. But just as playing Mozart’s music takes years of refinement, so does crafting the perfect tipple to compliment his sonic whirl of intrigue, scandal, exhilaration, and mischief. 

I drew inspiration from the following quotes while rustling up the ingredients for “The Amadeus Affair”:

“Mozart is happiness before it has gotten defined.”
     — Arthur Miller

Happiness = effervescence & sparkle = sugar & soda water!
 

“Does it not seem as if Mozart’s works become fresher and fresher the oftener we hear them?”
     — Robert Schumann 

A perky and fresh spring day = tarragon, with its licorice-like, peppery scent. (Besides, is it just me, or does tarragon scream, “MOZART!?")
 

“When you play Mozart, it’s so clean, it’s so simple. It’s the body naked.”
     — Gustavo Dudamel 

Cleanliness = lemon; see the article “24 things you can clean with a lemon” for evidence.
 

“An astonishing number of kisses are flying about! I see a whole crowd of them. Ha! Ha! I have just caught three — they are delicious… I kiss you millions of times.”
     — Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, to his wife Constanza 

In all forms of art, romance and love are often symbolized by flowers. Gin is the most floral spirit, and elderflower is the most intoxicating of scents… yum!
 

To tie it all together, I added two drops of absinthe to account for Mozart’s token dash of the unexpected, his latent wild side. (Speaking of which, click here for an NSFW link showcasing the true extent of Mozart’s wild side.)

 

Below, please find what I believe to be the most pleasing, balanced, and Mozartian combination of the ingredients.

THE AMADEUS AFFAIR

In a cocktail shaker, start with:

  • 1-2 sprigs tarragon
  • 3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar

Muddle, then add:

  • 1.5 oz gin
  • 1 ⅓ oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur
  • ⅔ oz fresh lemon juice (I use Meyer lemons)
  • 2 drops absinthe

Add ice to the cocktail shaker, shake, and strain into a tall glass filled halfway with ice. Then add:

  • 2 ounces soda water

Stir. Once complete, sit back and enjoy "The Amadeus Affair" with this sparkling track from our album An Amadeus Affair. :-)