We sometimes forget that before the internet and YouTube, a nostalgic whim to hear a song or watch a video clip couldn’t be instantly gratified. When I was in my early teens in the 1980s, before my family even considered a cable subscription or owned a VCR, watching something on analog TV or hearing a piece of music on the radio still had a fatalistic thrill, because I never knew when it would come on again, or if I’d even have the reception for it. I’d wait for hours to hear/see it again, transfixed and shutting out the rest of the world when my patience finally paid off. The first time I saw a Duran Duran video, and caught a glimpse of their bassist John Taylor – that cute, wiry guy with the square chin, bleached bangs and grey fedora – and his fetching bandmates singer Simon LeBon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, guitarist Andy Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor (none of the Taylors are related) – riding elephants in the hot sun and calling one night stands “paradise” – I was enthralled. And broke because I had to own everything – every record, poster, magazine, book. I had to keep seeing and hearing what the “Duran Brothers,” as my friend Liz’s dad referred to them, were up to.
Now it’s easy enough to follow them on instagram, watch any of their videos on demand and access their rare B-side recordings (finding the limited edition vinyl 12” singles with the deep cuts was the 1980s equivalent of scoring a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle in a mom and pop liquor store at regular markup). I was even able to meet John Taylor at his book signing years ago, and waited in line with a cross section of fans – gay, straight, male, female, black, white, tan, brown, green, blue, pink, trans, punk, new wave, old wave, buttoned up, dressed up, dressed down – who all wanted their moment with him in an otherwise ordinary world of a midtown Barnes & Noble.photo via Amanda Schuster
A few of us in that crowd had something else in common – we share a birthday with JT. And it’s today. So as a little gift to myself, and for John Taylor (fully aware he no longer imbibes), and for all you Durannies out there ahead of their 40th anniversary as a band (minus one of the Taylors who left a few years ago to spend more time with his crunchy guitar riffs), I am making good on a proposal Jason Bylan, my brother-once-removed, made to me last fall: to create a list of Duran Duran-inspired cocktails. Many of the drink names are his.
For this project, I had help from some of my favorite bartenders, who were all cherry ice cream smiles when I assigned them the task of creating cocktails based on specific songs and lyrics. And yes, they’ll taste as impressive as how Nick, Simon, John and Roger have aged.
by Joe Donahue, Holiday Cocktail Lounge, New York City
To drink to the band’s debut single, Donahue suggests sipping this cocktail through a biodegradable or reusable straw.
Shake lightly (whip shake) to incorporate ingredients. Strain over ice into a lowball glass. Sip through eco-friendly straw.courtesy Copper & Kings
Girls on Film
Says C&K founder Joe Heron, “We wanted something a little orangey… since A Clockwork Orange is played before every Duran Duran show.”
- .75 oz Destillaré Intense Orange Curaçao
- .75 oz Campari
- .75 oz lemon juice
- .75 oz raspberry syrup
From Amanda: Shake all ingredients with ice until well chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Sense the rhythm humming in a frenzy all the way down your spine.
Night Version: Sub the Campari with Cynar and serve long with a splash of soda.
By Michael Padgett and Eron Plevan of ALEX&NDER, Louisville
“Taylor made – nice and fat – like the John Taylor and Roger Taylor rhythm section, with a little bit of masculine eyeliner and lipstick.” – Joe Heron.
- .75 oz Copper & Kings Butchertown Reserve Casks Brandy (124 Proof)
- .75 oz Basil Hayden’s Two By Two Rye (gold medal winner, 2018 NY International Spirits Competition)
- .75 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
- Bar spoon syrup from Copper & Kings brandied cherries
- dash Peychaud’s bitters
- dash C&K Old Fashioned bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice until well chilled, Pour into a chilled coupe or lowball glass. Garnish with brandied cherry. Let nightfall cover you.photo via Abigail Gullo
Dance Into the Fire
Based on “A View To a Kill”
By Abigail Gullo of Compère Lapin, New Orleans
Says Gullo, “[The drink] has its roots in the other 007 Cocktail, the Vesper. It’s pink – like the 80s – and has French Rhum in it to honor the location of the video, the Eiffel Tower. And of course, there are pyrotechnics.”
- 1.5 oz Cocchi Rosa
- .75 oz Rhum Clement Canne Bleu or 100 proof Rhum JM
- .75 oz palo cortado sherry
- Dash of orange bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice until well chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a flambeaux orange peel.photo by Noah Fecks
Save It ‘Til The Morning After
By Pete Vasconcellos, The Penrose, NYC
Pete Vasconcellos, on the drink: “This is a dry and tropical breakfast tiki drink inspired by ‘Save a Prayer,’ perfect for morning sipping. It’s a deconstructed Irish coffee that’s distinctly un-Irish, with everything I like about breakfast: coffee, coconut milk and a hint of sweetness. Mesh & Bone Arraku is a Sri Lankan liqueur made from coconut flower nectar – 1a nod to the setting for the epic music video (but Batavia Arrack, more widely available, would work just as well).”
- 5-8 mint leaves
- 1.5 oz. Jameson Caskmates Irish Whiskey
- 1 oz. Coco Lopez coconut cream
- 1 oz. cold brew coffee
- .5 oz Mesh & Bone Arakku (or Batavia Arrack)
- .25 oz. Branca Menta
- .25 oz. Cynar
- .25 oz. orgeat syrup
- 1 dash Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla bitters
- Mint sprig, for garnish
In a shaker, lightly muddle the mint. Add all other ingredients, and fill with ice. Shake well and strain into an Old Fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Top with additional crushed ice and garnish with a mint sprig.photo by Chelsea Morse
Last Chance on the Stairway
by Melissa Derfler, The Wren, NYC
Explains Derfler: “The first verse of ‘Last Chance on the Subway’ talks about the waves in a woman’s hair, and the sun reflecting in her eyes, so I was inspired to create something summery and, though I hate to use this word, ‘crushable.’ The members of Duran Duran famously got started while working at Birmingham’s Rum Runner club, so I wanted to create a rum drink. The classic Jungle Bird was an inspiration.”
- 1.5 oz. Mount Gay Eclipse Rum (gold medal, 2018 NYISC)
- 1 oz. Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto liqueur
- .5 oz. fresh lemon juice
- blood orange soda, to top (Derfler prefers San Pellegrino)
- Sprig of fresh thyme, for garnish
- Blood orange wheel, for garnish
Combine rum, Italicus and lemon juice in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into an Old Fashioned glass filled with fresh ice. Top with blood orange soda and garnish with blood orange and thyme.photo by Amanda Schuster
Sing Blue Silver
By Anthony DeSerio, senior cocktail correspondent, Faith Middleton’s Food Schmooze podcast
Based on “The Chauffeur”
To be prepared in a metal thermos, preferably in the back of a car.
- 2 oz Ketel One Citroen vodka
- 1 oz simple syrup made with dried butterfly pea flower (turns drinks blue!) or Bols Blue Curaçao
- 1 chilled 187 mL bottle of Champagne or other sparkling wine such as Prosecco or Cava
Chill thermos with ice. Add all ingredients. Swirl. Sit beside someone new and charming and let the dewdrops glisten fresh on the side… of the thermos.photo by Amanda Schuster
Try Not To Bruise It
Based on the “Reflex”
By Carol Donovan, Intoxicatingly Fun Cocktails, Chicago
- 2 oz London dry gin (birthday girl’s pick is Sipsmith)
- .75 oz fresh pineapple juice
- .5 oz maple cocktail syrup*
- 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
- Garnish: 2 drops green Chartreuse, grapefruit twist, brightly colored flower
*Maple Cocktail Syrup: 2:1 solution of real maple syrup and water, to allow the syrup to be more easily mixable
Place all ingredients except Chartreuse in shaker tin with ice. Shake & fine-strain into coupe glass. Drop the 2 drops of Chartreuse onto the top. Express grapefruit peel over the top and discard. Garnish with flower & serve.
The story behind the cocktail and what’s this wacky tune about?: “There are many theories about the meaning behind this song. For this cocktail, I chose to focus on the theory that they were talking about gaining confidence*, so I have made a gin-based cocktail to illustrate how so many consumers have branched out beyond neutral spirits-based cocktails to base spirits with all sorts of additional flavors.
I wanted to keep to a drink with just 3 ingredients for the three lines in the chorus repeated so many times throughout the song, but just like Duran Duran, there seems to be a surprising additional ingredient (the bitters). The only question mark would be whether to order a 3rd one.
The brightly colored flower represents the vibrant colors Duran Duran was wearing in 1984 when this song quickly soared to number 1 after it launched.
*(Other possibilities include that it was about taking drugs, or pleasuring yourself.)”
Based on “New Moon On Monday”
- 2 dashes Degroff Pimento Bitters .25 oz apple cider vinegar
- .5 oz fresh orange juice
- .75 oz
- Amaro Montenegro1.5 oz J. Rieger & Co. Midwestern Dry Gin
- 2.5 oz dry Champagne or other sparkling wine well chilled.
Combine first 5 ingredients in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake vigorously to aerate, chill and, dilute. Double strain into a chilled Nick and Nora glass to remove any ice shards. Serve the sparkling wine in a crystal cordial glass on the side. It’s up to the imbiber to either add the bubbles to the drink or enjoy them on the side.
Teague explains the cocktail: “Duran Duran had a massive impact on the music scene right during my formative years. If you had ears, you were listening to Duran Duran at some point in your daily routine no matter what you did.
This cocktail is a sour with a few augmentations. Orange juice is often disappointingly flabby so, the addition of apple cider vinegar helps to improve its acidity. The Montenegro adds a complexity of bittersweet flavors and a silky texture is formed when blended with juice. The backbone of this cocktail is the malty style of this gin.
The cordial glass of Champagne is the lonely satellite that revolves around the cocktail. It can also be held high in toast as if though it were a torch to inspire a fire dance through the night.”photo by Amanda Schuster
(B-Side to “Union of the Snake”)
By Byran Teoh, Porchlight Bar, NYC
Remarks Teoh, “While the music is upbeat and references to parties are made, the lyrics allude to someone who has some regrets about past transgressions or perhaps is searching for something more. The drink is accessible and fun with some more dark/bitter/serious undertones for those who want to dig a bit deeper. I believe the song’s reference to the month of October is symbolic, but I’ve chosen to base the cocktail around Apple Brandy and Walnut Liqueur for a more literal nod to fall flavors.”
- 1.5 oz Laird’s Straight Apple Brandy
- 1.5 oz pineapple juice
- .75 oz Cynar
- .5 oz lime juice
- .5 oz simple syrup
- bar spoon Nocino (black walnut liqueur)
Teoh’s instructions: “Shake, serve down in a chilled lowball with no garnish (served ‘naked and wise’). Alternatively if one is feeling crafty, I suppose a butterfly could be crafted with a few thinly cut lime wheels and a cherry.”Yes, I have a “Reflex” picture disc! photo by Amanda Schuster
By Erick Castro of Simple Serve, Inc.
- .75 oz Cognac (such as Honor VS, gold medal winner 2018 NYISC)
- .75 oz Lemon
- .75 oz Grand Marnier
- .75 oz Amaretto
- 1 dash orange bitters
Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with lemon twist. Repeat 6 more times (optional).
Where Is All You Angels?
based on “Wild Boys”
by Erik Trickett, Holiday Cocktail Lounge, NYC
Those thirsty angels stole a double share of the whisky used as this cocktail’s base – first the bourbon in the barrels used to age it, then the whisky as it aged in those barrels.
- 1.5 oz Auchentoshan American Oak Scotch
- 1 oz cold brew coffee
- .75 oz vanilla syrup
- 2 dashes Bitterman’s Tiki Bitters
- crushed ice
- whipped cream
Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into a highball glass or julep cup filled with crushed ice. Top with whipped cream.
Meet El Presidentephoto by Marcie Anderson
By Marcie Anderson, Restaurant Daniel, New York City
Says Anderson, “The lyrics of this song really made me think about Éva Perón, who was the famous wife of Argentinian President Juan Perón. (And Evita is definitely my favorite musical of all time.) It’s a summer riff on an El Presidente with fernet, which is very commonly consumed in Argentina.”
- 1.5 oz Plantation 5 Year Rum
- 0.5 oz Fernet
- 0.5 oz Dry Curaçao or Cointreau
- 0.75 oz Lime Juice
- 0.25 oz Simple Syrup
- 2 small Strawberries
- Mint Sprig
Muddle strawberries and mint in shaker. Add all remaining ingredients and ice. Shake. Double strain into chilled coupe glass. Garnish with mint sprig.photo by Amanda Schuster
Bonus Tracks: 7″ single pours
Room 7609, based on “Late Ba r” – a beer and a shot of choice, but it’s served through a hole in the wall next you