Paring high-brow musicians with the dregs of college partying is something I think Mozart would appreciate. Who says that black-tie culture can’t mix alcohol as well as adagios? I’ve been studying classical music for over two years and hearing fiery works (i.e. The Ride of the Valkyries by Wagner) reminds me of liquors I’ve encountered at home and in college. Yes, Mozart might’ve been a child prodigy and Saint-Saëns might’ve written his first piano piece at age three, but behind every great artist is a well-stocked bar.
Tchaikovsky – Vodka
Twirl me a mustache and write me a symphony because Tchaikovsky would definitely down a few shots at a party. The Romantic composer is Vodka because 1) he’s Russian, and 2) the burning liquid and heightened emotions ring of his brooding works. The thunderous keys of Piano Concerto No. 1? The four-part intensity of Symphony Pathetique? Tchaikovsky released his struggles (i.e. being gay in 19th century Russia) through his music, nothing frilly or innocent about it. Svedka is not swallowed easily, but once it’s stomached, a night of shoes-off passion will follow.
Richard Wagner – Fireball Shot
Wagner was notorious for his racist, anti-Semitic views and tempestuous “music dramas” such as Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung). His most famous five minutes, The Ride of the Valkyries, was part of this drama and features bold french horns and skittering strings. The suspense – the drama – and the Star Wars-like sound are jarring and hit the listener like a colliding Death Star. Therefore, this German composer reeks of a sticky shot of Fireball. Cinnamon and acidic, the shot is an epic four seconds of regret and internal pride.
Georges Bizet – Tequila Sunrise
The French mastermind behind Carmen and L’Arlésienne would suck this fruity drink down in a metronome beat. One of his sassiest works is La Habanera, in which Carmen makes her debut in an Opera involving a naïve solder, a scarlet woman, and a sexy toreador. Flirtatious and colorful (but still traditional), it’s the kind of piece I’d drink a tequila sunrise too. The orange juice, grenadine, and Jose Cuervo mix the sweet with the savory.
George Gershwin – Absinthe
Ah! The Roaring 20s with its immorality, prohibition, and swingers in their fringes and feathers. Behind all the glamour, Gershwin composed the sounds of this decade of decadence, including An American in Paris, Rhapsody in Blue, and Porgy and Bess. I always envision Fitzgerald, Picasso, and the rest of the Lost Generation sipping on absinthe cocktails as the clarinet notes begin. If The Great Gatsby has an anthem, it needs a signature drink too, right? Emerald and shrouded in hallucinogenic mystery, absinthe was a fashionable vice in the early 1900s. It’s black licorice with a mouth-burning itch, a 140-proof luxury impossible to find at the nearest ABC. Here’s Why I Think Absinthe Should Make A Comeback (as should classical music).
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Gin and Tonic
White wigs and britches taste like Seagrams gin and tonic from Target. I associate gin with class and grandmothers, the kind that blast The Magic Flute while doing a crossword puzzle. Although Mozart is an overused archetype of classical music, his works (i.e. Requiem, The Marriage of Figaro, and Don Giovanni) are ingenious. Just like gin, there’s a stereotype that Mozart’s work is dry and pretentious – which couldn’t be more untrue. Amazon Video wouldn’t have created Mozart In The Jungle if he was irrelevant… Also, I’m a flautist and his flute concertos are playful, proper, and 15 minute delights—just like gin and tonics.
Johannes Bach – Godiva Cognac
This unusual combination of Godiva Liqueur and Hennessy Cognac produces a resounding depth for the palate. It reminded me of Bach’s famous Cello Suites, a six-part series showcasing the cello’s earthy voice. Maybe it’s the stained color of the body or the rich bass, but cellos are a chocolatey instrument. Emotion through strings, tranquility inside wood. Similarly, Godiva Cognac is smooth but biting and elegant to the hilt. Other Bach works incudes Ave Maria, Brandenburg Concertos, and Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.
Pull out those Beats and unlock the liquor cabinet for an evening of tipsy culture. You’d be surprised how similar Lady Gaga is to Bach.