Our friend showed up at our house with a gift bag. “When I found this, I immediately thought of you,” she said. Filled with curiosity, I put my hand in the bag and pulled out a book. Its title was ‘Booze and Vinyl’, a nice tie-in to my love of mixology and re-kindled affection for music engraved on a plastic disc.
The book is a spiritual successor to the authors’ previous book ‘Movie Night Menus’, and aims to pair classic albums with appropriate cocktails and food. Each album is presented with a short description, then suggestions for setting up your listening party. A pair of cocktail recipes follow (one for each side), and sometimes food suggestions. The album list covers a lot of genres, and it wisely sticks records widely accepted as classics. I’d feel confident grabbing any of those discs, even those not in my preferred styles. (You can find the whole list here. Keep it close for your next crate digging expedition)
Likewise, the cocktails rarely involve truly unusual elements, and many can be made with simply two or three ingredients. You might have to make a few trips to the liquor store, but contrary to some mixology books I’ve come across, you won’t find yourself special ordering stuff online that your local store has no idea about. Also included is a section on bar techniques and accessories, and they once again keep things simple, lowering the barrier to entry for even inexperienced weekend home bartenders.
In the era of streaming and commoditized music, that may sound like a lot of effort just to play an album. But in truth, it’s the perfect embodiment of the vinyl experience. Records are a fragile medium, full of character despite their flaws, that require care and attention. My love of vinyl stems from the experience of listening to music, of carefully selecting an album and listening to it attentively, all the way through. It’s about treating music as an event, one to cherish and reflect upon.
After all, you don’t just throw on a record: you carefully select it with your head tilted sideways while trying to read the spines, and you pick it up, examine it and carefully set it down on the platter. And then you slowly lower the needle to its surface and settle down while the music comes alive. There’s surface noise, and maybe a few pops, but the organic sound that comes out of the speakers creates a human connection with the music that’s unrivaled, short of a live concert.
Or maybe you’re cynical, and think that you need to be drunk to enjoy records. Then that book works for you too.
I highly recommend this book to any vinyl lover, and believe me, it makes for a great gift. I’ll probably spend the next few years trying out its suggestions! As for now, I’ve got gin and bourbon ready to go, and a nice copy of ‘Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison’ on the turntable, waiting for me.
Cheers, and rock on!