AS x Hedonism (Vol. 1)

With the summer season well under way, and recognizing that my last few pieces have been leaning more towards the melancholic side, I think it’s time for some good ol’ hedonism in the form of the ultimate music cocktail. With that in mind, I present to you, dear readers, AS x Hedonism (Vol. 1), a collection of the best alcohol-related songs; a sort of musical guide to a good night out, if you will.

The criteria was simple – if it has alcohol on it, or a clear reference to it, the song is eligible. As you might guess, this super wide criteria led to a shortlist of thousands of songs, so narrowing it down to a 20-track playlist was quite the task, but fear not – I have completed that task for you in (not-even-remotely-close) record time.

[Author’s Note: please do not try to ingest all the drinks enumerated in this playlist. The result could be… interesting to say the least, but would leave you with the Mother of all Hangovers. Plus, my mum reads my articles and I have to seem like I discourage alcohol consumption – hi mum!].

Let’s start off simple, with One Mint Julep – a cocktail with bourbon, sugar, water, ice and fresh mint. And, as Louis Prima eloquently puts it, “One mint julep / Was the cause of it all”. But we soon realize that one single cocktail is not enough for the night we have planned ahead. So we then move on to Sublime’s 40oz to Freedom, from the masterpiece LP of the same name.

After 40oz of whatever drink is your favourite poison – or 1.18 litres, for those of you who, like me, are not familiar with weird American scales and measures – we now know what we want. “Well, we wanna be free, we wanna be free to do what we wanna do / And we wanna get loaded and we wanna have a good time.” Frank Maxwell and Peter Fonda’s conversation serves not only as the mantra everyone should live by, but also as the opening to our next song, Primal Scream’s superb Loaded. And loaded is exactly what we are aiming for tonight.

With that in mind, treat yourself to Escape (The Piña Colada Song), courtesy of Mr. Rupert Holmes. Now, this song has to be on this playlist. In addition to providing the necessary sugar to keep going the night going (this is not a food playlist, you have to get your energy somewhere else), the song itself is a catchy and unforgettable tune that will guarantee a karaoke performance from at least one friend. Also, anyone who sings “Yes, I like Piña Coladas, and getting caught in the rain / I’m not much into health food, I am into champagne” has my admiration, and seems like someone I could be close friends with, thus earning a place in my hedonistic playlist.

Have a Drink on Me is a must have in any good alcohol-related playlist, not only because we all wish that someone would buy us a drink every once in a while, but also due to the fact that it reflects AC/DC’s complete lack of sensitivity regarding alcohol. Allow me to elaborate – frontman Bon Scott died of alcohol poisoning just a few days after attending the first recording session of what would end up being one of AC/DC’s most monstrous successes. What did the rest of the band do? Mourn? Complain? Weep? Not even close – with Brian Johnson as the new lead singer, AC/DC released Have a Drink on Me as part of 1980’s masterpiece Back in Black.

At this point, we pretty much have to admit we are binge-drinking. According to my English fellow Snobs, there isn’t a song that better describes that characteristic of UK culture than Tubthumping, so it is the perfect follow-up song in our playlist. Alongside being a phenomenal belter and a great football anthem, British rock band Chumbawamba supposedly took inspiration from a pub in Leeds to create an anthem to the “resilience of ordinary people”, exactly the type of motivation we need at this point of the night – resilience in this case translated into resistance to alcohol, as one might guess from the lyrics (“He drinks a Whiskey drink, he drinks a Vodka drink / He drinks a Lager drink, he drinks a Cider drink”).

Drunk Girls is obviously (very) far away from LCD Soundsystem’s best work, but the overall vibe of the song, which feels like a night of reckless boozing, and the fact that we get to listen to Murphy shouting “drunk girls cause a couple of heart attacks”, is just pure fun. On a truly hedonistic night out, everyone knows that, at one point or another, someone will suggest the one thing everyone had been carefully avoiding – Shots. Let me start by saying that I obviously hate this song as much as (hopefully) all of you do – of course I do. But the shot-drinking community might beg to differ. So let’s leave this track here, not as a sort of guilty pleasure, but more as a reminder to avoid these drinks of Satan, just as we would avoid this song.

On a much more appealing note, Gin and Juice, in addition to providing a low-cost cocktail recipe, Snoop Dogg’s anthem from his Doggystyle debut addresses a very real problem that most of us face on a daily basis – “with my mind on my money and my money on my mind”. Also, Snoop actually broke the Guinness World Record for “biggest paradise cocktail ever” back in 2018, mixing 180 bottles of Hendricks gin with a large amount of juice on a XXXL cocktail glass, decorated with a large cocktail umbrella and a straw taller than the hip hop star. Anyone who takes their music that “seriously” deserves a place in this playlist. And, since we are mixing Gin and Juice and someone has already kicked off festivities by ordering shots a while back, let’s move onto some Tequila. Taking its name from everyone’s favourite-not-so-favourite shot, The Champs’ globally-recognisable two-minute belter adds the Latino touch our night needs at this point.

Yet we quickly realise that, just like the actual shot, Tequila is not what we want to drink right now. And so we go back to everyone’s [Editor’s note: John’s] favourite drink: beer. And at this point, you can get cozy with your friends and justify your drinking habits because En el Cielo no Hay Cerveza – or, in gringo, In Heaven There is No Beer. Give it a listen and let me know if you don’t agree with Flaco Jimenez’s existential justification for drinking beer – you have no excuse, as Mr. Jimenez explains in three different languages (Spanish, English and German). By now, and as per the words of the wise Chance the Rapper, we have to acknowledge that we have been drinking All Night. Produced by Kaytranada, the song also serves as a reminder that drunk people will use all sorts of excuses to bum a ride home. But the night is still young – “The night’s still in diapers” as El Mascarado would put it – so there will be no rides homes yet.

With that in mind, and given that we clearly haven’t had enough, let’s have One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer – the “bitchin’ and moaning” of this version, courtesy of George Thorogood and his band of Destroyers, is a medley with House Rent Boogie, where the singer, unable to pay his rent, is thrown out by his landlady and, homeless, drowns his sorrows with – you guessed it – repeated bourbons, scotches and beers until last call.

Moving on and – if I am going to be completely honest, during my innocent phase I thought our next song was a rap about a monkey. Brass Monkey is in fact a name given to a number of different cocktail recipes, commonly prepared with rum, vodka and orange juice. Beastie Boys’ anthem, which drove explosive sales for Heublein’s Brass Monkey, is a perfect inclusion in our playlist – and so is the cocktail at this point.

We can then quickly pause in our hedonistic festivities to quickly discuss the dangers of alcohol (my mum is so proud right now), referencing Kendrick Lamar’s phenomenal introspective Swimming Pools (Drank). Addressing social life, alcoholism and peer pressure, it is one of Lamar’s standout tracks, taking us on a journey through his childhood years, his grandfather’s drinking problem – resulting in his death – and how seeking to belong can pressure people to “get a swimming pool full of liquor” and then “dive in it”.

Saddened by the stories we just heard [Editor’s note: classic melancholy from John] and, given that Bacchus’ favourite poison has not yet been touched, we can move to Red Red Wine. UB40’s version adds a lighter, reggae vibe to Neil Diamond’s original composition, perfect for us to catch our breath in the middle of this binge drinking. Mr. Diamond himself has admitted that the song is one of his favourite covers, and frequently uses UB40’s arrangement when playing it live. So, if it works for one of the best selling artists of all time, it certainly works for us.

Alabama Song (Whisky Bar), originally performed by a group of prostitutes, gives us the right advice for our next tipple. In the words of the late Jim Morrison, “show me the way to the next Whisky bar!” Once there, it is now time for a little Henny & Gingerale – shout out to El Mascarado for showing me Mayer Hawthrone’s recipe; the perfect means to start cooling off after the night we just had.

Finally, to finish the night off, let’s have a glass of Lilac Wine, courtesy of the great Nina Simone – although covered by countless artists, only Mrs. Simone is able to provide the mood that both this song – and our heads – demand at this point. Lulled by the sweet sound of the High Priestess of Soul, it is now time to collapse on the bed for a well deserved 24-hour rest. Congratulations, we made it to the end.