In this industry we’re constantly pairing things together… the right drink with the right meal, the right drink with the right person, the right drink with… well you get the picture. I’d even argue that we as human beings are constantly trying to pair things together; perhaps part of that insatiable need to better understand our world through comparing and contrasting.
That being said, I’ve personally found a great interest in pairing Cocktails & Music, as I feel many specific drinks pair very aptly with specific songs / compositions. Something light and tart could be very indicative of some more upbeat music with either Latin or Electronic influences; whereas something dark and aggressive could go either into Jazz or Progressive Metal.
It’s my hope to occasionally be able to produce one of these pairings in video form to help capture the essence of both the drink & the song… Perhaps a “Music Recipe Video” if you will. And on that note… here is the first ever “MusicMixed: A Pairing of Cocktail & Song”. Enjoy!
1 1/2 oz. bourbon
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
1/2 oz. Bénédictine
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Tools: mixing glass, barspoon, strainer
Glass: double rocks
Garnish: lemon twist
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and stir with ice until chilled. Strain into a double rocks glass without ice, then garnish.
Named after Tom Pendergast, the 1920s-30s Kansas City political boss, this modern classic cocktail has found its way onto multiple menus and quickly become a city favorite. Pendergast the person however held quite a notorious past, known as “Boss Tom” and generally feared; he was not at all shy about using force to get what he wanted. Pendergast also controlled the local government via the “Pendergast Machine” and made KC a “wide-open” town during prohibition, with no-alcohol related arrests within city limits. The resources and stories on his influence alone have since filled multiple books and even short films – his impact on Kansas City has certainly not gone unnoticed.
The drink was created in 2006 by bartender Ryan Maybee of Kansas City – owner of Manifesto and The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange. His goal was to create a balance of simple ingredients that would be “delicious yet easy to replicate”. This drink, while falling into the “Strong” category, drinks exceptionally smooth. The nose presents a very light citrusy note from the lemon oil expelled from the garnish; while also creating a nice interplay with the lingering herbal notes from the Bénédictine and Sweet Vermouth amidst the punch of caramel and vanilla in the Bourbon.
On the palate it’s all about maintaining a smooth and silky texture. The classic balance of Bourbon, Sweet Vermouth and Bitters is given a much more unctuous mouth feel and herbal note with the added Bénédictine – further enhancing the vanilla and citrusy notes of the Bourbon along with the hints of fig and toffee in the Sweet Vermouth (I opted for Carpano Antica). The Bitters, as could be assumed, provide an essential balance to all the ingredients, rounding out the palate experience. I would describe the overall flavor profile as being dark & smooth, with an underlying bit of drama from the heat of the Bourbon. It certainly finishes clean, but by no means lets you forget what you’re drinking.
“133w” was composed and performed by local Kansas City pianist Mark Lowrey – off his recent album “Tangos for 18th Street”. The track’s title refers to an apartment where the pianist lived for a period of time, and the song itself certainly has a feeling of classic Kansas City style Jazz while maintaining the album’s angle of capturing the essence of Argentine Tango.
This particular track definitely feels darker than some of the others on the album, having a bit of mystery and allure to it, but not without some tension and drama as well. Thematically it ebbs and flows, shifting from light melancholy to light upbeat inquisitive themes – further into more tense and dramatic themes performed in a very lively almost playful style, but tonally maintaining tension and curiosity. It ends on a very subtle and positive tone with a calm finish.
First and foremost… both this Cocktail and Song derive their inspiration from Kansas City. I feel that in many cases the drama that happens to be captured in the song is also inherently present in the drink; as both tend to change as you sip or experience them. Both have a dark sensibility to them but leave you in the end with a positive or clean finish.
Further, historically the address that is referenced in the title of the song is only a few blocks from “Boss Tom” Pendergast’s old office, which is in turn only a few doors down from Ryan Maybee’s bar and restaurant. That being said, my ideal environment for sipping this cocktail is definitely in a dimly lit bar with some dramatic jazz piano playing in the background.
I opted to shoot this piece entirely as high-contrast high-speed footage to try and further dramatize the viewing experience – to draw the viewer into some of the subtle nuances not just of crafting the drink, but also of the song. Not to mention utilizing the dark background and some sharp cuts to help further the dramatic feelings. It’s also intended to have somewhat of an over-serious tone to try and capture the feeling of the song and in turn of Pendergast’s notorious history.
At the end of the day, I thought it was a damn tasty drink, and wanted to pair it with a song I’m equally as excited about… Thanks for reading & Cheers!