This year we lost legends. David Bowie and Prince both passed in the early months of 2016, two musicians who changed the music industry intrinsically and influenced generations of people with their work. In the days and even months following their deaths, tributes flooded in: performances on award shows, speeches, dedicated television specials, and the outpouring of personal stories shared online and on social media. Strangely, a new tribute trend popped up on the internet this year: tribute cocktails. Bartenders took to Instagram to share photos and recipes of their liquid dedications, aptly named for their favorite songs. And while naming cocktails after song titles and lyrics has been happening for years, suddenly these drinks began to embody the fallen artist they were meant to honor—an ingestible memorial.
For a culture that worships our food by taking copious photos, waiting in line for hours at the newest hot-spot, and paying large sums for meals at Michelin-starred restaurants, somehow this all makes sense. We now choose to honor our legends by sipping them. And without missing a beat, William Grant & Sons hosted a tribute “Spirited Dinner” to Bowie and Prince during Tales of the Cocktail, the New Orleans cocktail festival held every year in July. The dinner featured Bowie inspired dishes and Prince inspired cocktails created by Gina Chersevani of Buffalo & Bergen in Washington D.C. Here are all five of the drinks in their Purple Glory.
The first cocktail of the night, Dearly Beloved, was light and refreshing—a Hendrick’s Gin cocktail with sesame, cucumber, lemon, and wasabi-rice wine vinegar. The side of the glass was covered in toasted sesame seeds, a nice crunchy element that complemented the flavors of sesame and wasabi in the cocktail itself. This is a perfect summer drink to make every weekend and enjoy surrounded by friends and family. You don’t have to tell them that your “Dearly Beloved” is this cocktail (we won’t).
2 parts Hendrick’s Gin washed with toasted white sesame
2 parts cucumber water
1.5 part lemon
1 part wasabi-rice wine vinegar
In a shaker tin combine the ingredients, strain into a sesame rimmed Collins glass and top with a touch of sparkling water.
Diamonds and Pearls
The next cocktail was a wildly creative one, inspired by the song “Diamonds and Pearls” and made with Milagro Tequila, anise and almond-simple milk, fresh lime juice, and rimmed with almond salt. Normally, cocktails with nut flavors are prepared with heavily sweet orgeat syrups, but the almond-simple milk was light and delicate, the “pearl” to accompany the bright and vegetal flavors of the “diamond”—the tequila.
2 parts Milagro Tequila
1 part anise and almond-simple milk
1 part lime juice
Combine ingredients in a shaker tin, then double strain over fresh ice in almond salt rimmed double rocks glass.
Let’s Go Crazy
The third course was a favorite of the evening: a corn water cocktail made with Reyka Vodka, cilantro-ginger simple, and a few drops of chili oil. This cocktail was essentially a liquid tamale—sweet, spicy and savory—and the drops of chili oil allowed you to control the heat, and the craziness.
2 parts Reyka Vodka
1 part Corn water
.5 part cilantro-ginger simple syrup
Garnish with 3 drops chili oil
In a shaker tin combine the ingredients, double strained Chilled coupe glass, then dot the chili oil.
It wouldn’t be a Prince tribute without Purple Rain—and this cocktail was the most theatrical of them all. Wine glasses were filled with a cocktail of toasted sunflower-washed Hendrick’s Gin, Crème de Violet, and lemon juice, and were then topped with an edible purple potato leaf and a few drops of the purple hued cocktail. Guests then topped off the cocktail with champagne, letting it rain.
2 parts Hendrick’s Gin washed with toasted sunflowers
1 part Creme de Violet
.5 part lemon
In a shaker tin, combine Hendrick’s Gin, Creme de Violet and lemon, shake and strain into chilled wine glass. Take a purple potato leaf and lay across top of the glass, and with an eye dropper place a few drops of cocktail on the leaf so that the drops rain into the glass as it being served.
Quite appropriately, the dessert course was Cream—a bittersweet cocktail made with Sailor Jerry rum, cold brewed coffee, and sweetened with fig paste and condensed milk. This cocktail was decadent and defiant, just the way Prince would have liked it.
2 parts Sailor Jerry
1 tsp fig paste
1 tsp condensed milk
4 parts cold brewed coffee
In a shaker tin, combine all ingredient, hard shake and double strain over fresh ice, serve immediately.
Lead and second image by Emily Arden Wells, all other images by Farrah Skeiky