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by Jason Gubbels

June 30, 2014

Summer Cocktail Series, Pt. 3: Gin

by Jason Gubbels  |  June 30, 2014

The third installment of Rhapsody's summer celebration of strong drink in all its varied glory considers gin -- that ever-popular (mostly) English distillation of juniper berries that forms the bedrock of the martini, that exquisite concoction essayist H.L. Mencken once dubbed "the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet" (don't worry, vodka martini fans, you'll get your turn).

Musicians certainly love their martinis -- alto saxophonist and lifelong imbiber Paul Desmond famously described his own horn tone as reminiscent of "a dry martini." But one thing you may notice when considering our attached playlist of gin-themed songs is how musicians also feel pretty comfortable guzzling their gin straight (literally: consider Mojo Nixon/Skid Roper's "Gin Guzzlin' Frenzy" or Joe Ely's straightforward "Suckin' a Big Bottle of Gin"). In fact, given gin's starring role in one of the most elegant cocktails available for general consumption, it's surprising how often these songs revel in the beverage's more sloppy and seedy connotations, whether it's Nova Scotia's Hank Snow stealing Sammy Morgan's haul, the Baha Men drenching their drinks in coconut water, or Tom Waits and The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon both waking up as a "Gin Soaked Boy" (yes, that's two different songs).

And gin drinkers love their brands: Chuck Berry's pianist Johnnie Johnson gives Tanqueray a shout-out, while Stevie Nicks admits a preference for Bombay Sapphire. And while indie legends Superchunk gleefully sip "Martinis on the Roof," plenty of other gin-based cocktails make appearances, like Pimm's No. 1 Cup (from New Orleans-centric Buz Burkhead) and the Sloe Gin Fizz (name-dropped in Aerosmith's "Rag Doll"). One too many gin and tonics helped Suzanne Vega tumble into a steamy encounter on "Stockings." And who could forget the alcoholic cornerstone of '90s G-Funk, namely Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice"?

So whether you prefer yours mixed with vermouth or drained straight from the bottle, gin lovers of all stripes should find something worth settling down with inside our tribute to the glorious juniper berry.

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