There’s a natural rhythm to a bar: the percussion of shakers, the ring of glass on glass, the crescendo of laughter or hushed conversation. Then there’s the literal rhythm, the one that’s pumped through speakers, filling every corner of the room, adding that extra something to a night out. Music has the power to embolden revelers to let loose on the dance floor or inspire discussion that otherwise may not have happened.
Music brings people together.
This is why Fords Gin has created “Music To Drink Martinis To,” a record that’s able to set the mood while you sip your favorite Martini riff. The seven-track LP was produced by hip-hop legends Dan the Automator (Nathaniel Merriweather) and DJ Prince Paul (Chest Rockwell) from Handsome Boy Modeling School and comes with seven Martini recipes crafted by bartenders from around the world.
The Story Behind the Record
For Simon Ford, Fords Gin founder, music has always played an integral part in both his personal and professional life. The idea for an album, he tells VinePair, has been percolating for a while.
“Music, like many art forms, inspires emotions,” Ford says. “It can take you away from your everyday life for a moment and refresh your mind. The power of music is infinite.”
A few years ago, Fords Gin hosted Beats and Botanicals, an event where chefs and bartenders discussed the creative processes behind their dishes and cocktails alongside Merriweather, who talked about making music, and Ford, who discussed the gin distillation process. The conversation kept returning to the Martini as an example of a drink with a reputation beyond just being a classic cocktail.
“The Martini cocktail is more than just a drink,” Ford says. “It’s a drink that is unique to an individual. How they choose to enjoy it goes beyond the drink itself, from the atmosphere to the accouterments, style of service, or even how someone dresses when enjoying it.”
With the Martini being so personal, defining its sound proved difficult. “The fact that no one could agree is the beautiful thing about ‘Music To Drink Martinis To,’” Ford says. (It’s also important to point out that no one could agree on the perfect Martini recipe, either.)
In his case, Ford’s partial to instrumental hip-hop — Lovage, DJ Shadow, DJ Krush, Handsome Boy Modeling School, Aim, and Cut Chemist. To Ford, those artists evoke visions of late-night cocktail lounges, while anything by the Rat Pack transports him to 1950s-era Martini lounges. In darkly lit bars with a speakeasy vibe, you’ll catch Ford listening to gravel-voiced Tom Waits.
“There was no way we could capture all of our ideas on one record,” Ford says. “We do, however, think it’s a great starting point and hope it will, at the very least, inspire people to discuss their own personal Martini soundtracks.”
Producers Merriweather and Rockwell tapped Japanese lounge singer Emi Meyer, New York City native rapper J-Live, and Justin Warfield, a DJ and the lead vocalist of the post-punk band She Wants Revenge, for the record. “Meyer really captures the jazz vibes, J-Live brings the hip-hop energy, and Warfield’s track suggests that there are no limits [to creativity],” Ford says. “All of the credit for that has to go to Rockwell and Merriweather, who took these conversations [we were having] and created this EP.”
As far as the seven Martini recipes go, the process of finding bartenders to collaborate with was an organic one. The first bartender asked, Ryan Chetiyawardana, was known by the Fords Gin team for his predilection for setting up at the bar closest to the live music. Chetiyawardana’s love for music made him an obvious pick for the project, Ford says. Likewise, Sly Augustin rapped word-for-word with Raekwon and Ghostface Killah live on stage at one of Fords Gin’s events, making him and his Killer Bee Martini recipe a perfect fit.
Martini masters were tapped too, including Agostino Perrone, from the Connaught Bar in London, whose recipe was inspired by the music of Handsome Boy Modeling School. Jesse Vida from Atlas, which serves a famous Martini in Singapore, also offered his riff on the classic cocktail.
One of Ford’s personal favorites is the Gin & Ginger Martini that Julia Momosé created. The drink uses a ginger shochu that really complements Fords Gin, he says. Taylor Sampson offered up a recipe that is a slight variation on a classic Martini, but with some bianco vermouth, manzanilla sherry, and a pinch of salt. “Those slight flavor accentuations made it very drinkable indeed,” Ford adds.
However You Choose To Celebrate, Do it Your Way
After three years in the making with countless contributions from musicians and bartenders across the world, “Music To Drink Martinis To” is available for purchase. Each bundle comes with the record, recipe booklet, and a bottle of Fords Gin so you can try out a new riff or invent your own.
“The most fulfilling part of ‘Music To Drink Martinis To’ was that the project was a team effort,” Ford says. “Ideas were coming from everyone on the team, with everyone doing their bit to bring the record to life. When a group of people has that dynamic, you create something that is meaningful and special to all involved. Then you just hope that energy and idea will translate and make others feel the same way.”
To experience it for yourself, Ford recommends listening to “Music To Drink Maritnis To” at home in the company of good friends, and with Martinis you’ve made yourself. Alternatively, he recommends keeping an eye out for Fords Gin listening parties that will be popping up in May and June of this year.
No matter how you celebrate, Ford encourages you to do it your way.
“Music and Martinis are two of the foundations of hospitality. They create an atmosphere and are great excuses to get together and be together,” Ford says. “Just like the Martini, a soundtrack is a personal thing. We aren’t here to tell everyone what they should listen to, but simply to share some inspiration on the topic.”
Keep reading to get a sneak peek of two of the recipes, and listen to one of the songs here.
Gin & Ginger Martini
Created by: Julia Momosé
- 1 ½ ounces Fords Gin
- ¼ ounce Rihei Ginger Shochu
- 1 ¼ ounces Koshino Kanbai Sai Junmai Ginjo
- 5 drops Shiso Bitters
- Garnish: lemon peel
- Stir over ice
- Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
- Garnish with a lemon peel
Created by: Taylor Sampson
- 1 ½ ounces Fords Gin
- ½ ounce manzanilla sherry
- ¼ ounce Dolin Dry vermouth
- ¼ part Dolin Bianco
- Pinch of salt
- Garnish: 2 olives
- Build ingredients into a mixing glass.
- Stir with ice and strain into a chilled Nick & Nora glass.
- Garnish with 2 olives
This article is sponsored by Fords Gin.