Music club: Imbibe's all-time favourite drinks songs



07 May 2020

With all this time to reflect on our hands, we got to thinking about what our most enjoyable, influential or most memorable drinks-related songs are. And here they are – a playlist, hand selected by a jukebox full of Imbibe contributors, as well as a Spotify playlist with songs chosen by you, our readers. Enjoy!


Tequila (Mint Royale remix), Terrorvision

OK, so this song may not be the coolest of choices. It doesn’t have the swagger of Oasis’ Cigarettes & Alcohol, or the insouciance of Snoop’s Gin & Juice. But what it does capture is the party fun-times that go hand in hand with a bottle of tequila.

What I hadn’t realised is the version of the song I remembered is actually a remix by Mint Royale, who turned a dirge-y swamp rock original into a musical time capsule of the late 90s, complete with indie disco beats, mariachi trumpets and a group of children chanting ‘con tequila!’ throughout the chorus.

Sounds awful, doesn’t it? Maybe it is. But it’s also a hella lot of fun.

Add to that the fact Terrovision describe sipping tequila in the lyrics, and doing away with the ‘salt, lemon and lime’, and you could argue this is a band that knows how to imbibe decent tequila.

Still not convinced? Then maybe skip this track and head straight for The Champs’ classic song of the same name instead…


Rye Whiskey, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

A relatively upbeat outing from Nick Cave, who grows gloriously more miserable with each new release. Back in 1986 he turned this traditional folk song into a raucous tune best suited to singing along with in a tavern after a few.

It covers all the essentials, from gambling to moonshine, while quite rightly asserting the importance of rye whiskey to life. It reminds me of when it was more difficult to get hold of decent rye over here. Manhattans are better these days.

It also references that other folk drinking classic If The River Was Whiskey, with the momentarily sobering realisation that ‘the sea ain't made of whiskey and I ain't a duck’.

Cave has plenty of other good music to drink to as well, but this track makes me think of Stagger Lee in particular, from the album that got me into this band, Murder Ballads. It might be primarily about a violent multiple homicide, but it is set in a bar.


Maltworms, Peter Warlock, EJ Moeran

A maltworm was a tippler in the late 16th century, which is when this song’s lyrics were written (and where I got the name for my beer blog from). Centuries later in the 1920s, composers Peter Warlock and EJ Moeran were living in a Kent village and visiting the pub a lot, where the music to this intemperate drinking song was written.

I love it. It’s a short and simple singalong to piano whose rousing chorus features the line ‘God send thee good ale enough /Whether it be new or old.’ Chaz and Dave it ain’t. It’s boozy, uplifting and also emotional, best listened to with a pint, a one-off collaboration between two youngish composers, seemingly destined to take their place amongst the greats.

They didn’t. Warlock, whose real name was Philip Heseltine, killed himself in 1930, after allegedly dabbling in heavy drinking, drugs and the occult. Moeran also struggled with the bottle, wrote some good symphonies and died in 1950, falling off a pier into the sea after suffering a cerebral haemorrhage.


Brandy Alexander, Feist

I first listened to Feist's Brandy Alexander as a freshman in college. Though I had never heard of the titular cocktail, something about Feist's torch song lodged in my brain. 'It goes down easy,' she sang, over and over, and it sounded like how I hoped the Brandy Alexander would taste: decadent, and a little bit illicit.

Like most cream-based cocktails of the early 20th century, it's equal parts sophisticated and kitschy. Technically the Alexander No. 2 (No. 1 is made with gin), it sounds, on paper, like little more than boozy chocolate milk: cream meets brandy meets crème de cacao. John Lennon once supposedly quipped 'that's brandy and milk, folks' – he used to get roaring drunk on the cocktail in his post-Beatles years.

It would be years before I drank my first Brandy Alexander, with a friend at Death & Company in New York's East Village. I told the bartender what I was craving: dark spirits, spice, something rich. He brought us both Brandy Alexanders crowned with freshly grated nutmeg. It tasted precisely how I had envisioned years back: luscious with cream, brooding and potent. And Feist is no liar: it really did go down easy.


Drunk Girls, LCD Soundsystem

It’s four in the morning. It’s hot – sticky hot; humid hot. There are too many people in the flat I share with my new husband. Someone is dressed as a lemon. All I can smell is Cutters Choice baccy and chips but I haven’t cooked any of the latter and no one seems to know who’ll give me some. I can hear LCD Soundsystem. The album is This is Happening and it’s 2010 – the year I got married.

You might think that as soon as you get hitched you settle down, but the 12-months surrounding our wedding were positively bacchanalian. This is one of those songs that reminds me of that exact point in time and remains one of the best tracks to get energetically drunk to - if it's morose drunk you are after then you'll need to find something else.

The observant among you will have noticed that this was all exactly a decade ago and it is in fact my 10th wedding anniversary this very weekend (Friday 8 May). No hot, sticky, chip-smelling party for us this year, but we’ll pump out Drunk Girls nonetheless and drink Mojitos and Budweiser Budvar just as everybody did back then.


Libiamo ne' lieti calici from La Traviata, Giuseppe Verdi

I know what you’re thinking: Italian… opera, pizza, spaghetti and mandolin. I admit it, I like all of them, and I can even play the mandolin. But it’s not the stereotypical Italian in me that justifies my choice. Libiamo is one of the most popular melodies of all times; even those who don't like or know much about opera have certainly heard it at least once.

Not many however, realise this is in fact a drinking song, a song that celebrates hedonism in its entirety, booze, beauty and love: 'Let's enjoy the cup, the cup and the chants, the embellished nights and the laughter.'

It's not just to enjoy a 'cup' that I've chosen this song, though. The Libiamo duet leads to the scene where Alfredo, the lead male character, expresses his concerns over Violetta’s – the protagonist – poor health. I couldn't think of a better song to raise a glass to the drinks industry as it faces its worst crisis to date. 


Escape (The Pina Colada Song), Rupert Holmes

I can't remember the first time I heard this song, but I do remember my first Pina Colada (I was almost definitely underage, on a teenage girls holiday and probably thought I was tres sophisticated). Perhaps, then, it has been in my subconscious ever since, as without fail, this song holds a special place in my naff-leaning, 70s-loving heart. As does the drink – novelty umbrella included.

Although it's not technically a song about the drink (for those of you unfortunate souls unfamiliar with it, it's about a man and his wife connecting over the personal column in the newspaper) I can't think of many people who call it Escape or don't defer to its unofficial title when talking about it.

Saying that, the theme of 'escape' makes this song even more pertinent during these unprecedented times. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's been planning for freedom from lockdown. Planning our escape, so to speak.

And, although I can't say I've ever been to 'the dunes of the cape', frequented 'O'Malleys' or enjoy 'getting caught in the rain', I do like 'the taste of Champagne', am also 'not into yoga' and, most importantly, I 'like [love] Pina Coladas'. I also urge you all to watch the Top of the Pops recording on Youtube. Maybe there is a God.

Check out the Imbibe all-time favourite drinks songs playlist on Spotify! If you've got a suggestion, get in touch on Instagram @imbibeUK.

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