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Aimsel Ponti

Aimsel Ponti is a Content Producer at and a music writer for and the Portland Press Herald. She has been obsessed with - and inspired by - music since she listened to Monkees records borrowed from the town library when she was six years old. She bought her first Rolling Stones record at a flea market when she was in 7th grade and discovered David Bowie a year later. She's a HUGE fan of the local music scene and covers it along with national musical happenings in her "Face the Music" column and with artist interviews that appear in print in the Portland Press Herald and online at You'll also find her out and about absorbing live music like a sponge and roaming around local record shops and flea markets. Aimsel is also the host of Music from 207 on 98.9 WCLZ and appears monthly on the News Center Maine TV show “207” to talk of course.

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Posted: April 17, 2018

Grab a Collins glass from the cupboard and spin some vinyl

Written by: Aimsel Ponti

Book cover design by Jason Varney

The proper soundtrack to any given event is key in my opinion. Whether you’re having a cocktail party, cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, going for a multi-mile solo walk or on a road trip to a far-flung flea market, proper music selection is huge.

But here’s a twist on that concept, courtesy of a book that arrived on my desk recently. Let’s say you already have the perfect soundtrack ready for an evening at home. You’ve chosen, say, U2’s “The Joshua Tree,” and heck, maybe you’re even really going for gold and spinning it on vinyl. Here’s something to consider: What beverage should accompany the listening session? “Booze and Vinyl: A Spirited Guide to Great Music & Mixed Drinks” (Running Press) by siblings André Darlington and Tenaya Darlington, with photography by Jason Varney, answers this question in fine form with dozens of examples in which they pair albums with cocktails.

Photo by Jason Varney

The book is gorgeous, and the April 21 release date was intentional – so as to correspond with Record Store Day.

“Booze & Vinyl” mentions 70 albums released between the ’30s and now, and it’s divided into four categories: rock, dance, chill and seduce. With each album, you’ll find a Side A and a Side B cocktail suggestion along with liner notes about the artist and album, themed listening party ideas and appetizer recipes sprinkled throughout the pages.

Photo by Jason Varney

Among my favorite albums in the book is Joni Mitchell’s 1971 “Blue,” which the authors say set the tone for a “decade of wine-drunk afternoons spent listening to her wistful lyrics about loving the wrong man.” They suggest lighting some incense and perching yourself on the floor for the ultimate listening experience. As for a cocktail, they suggest the Santorini Sunrise, made with Campari and grapefruit juice.

Photo by Jason Varney

There’s also U2’s 1987 masterpiece “The Joshua Tree.” The Darlingtons say the album “captures the gnarled image of the heroic twisted desert shrub to create a monumental album of grace and resistance in the face of adversity,” and they’ll get no argument from this fan. The album is best enjoyed in front of a lit chimenea whilst sipping tequila-based cocktail El Diablo.

And saving the best for last, I chose what I consider to be David Bowie’s best album, 1972’s “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.” The Darlingtons and I both have immense appreciation for its theatrical impact. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to do what they suggest, which is busting out the body glitter and spiking my hair, but the Champagne Cup cocktail sounds fabulous. Wham bam, thank you ma’am!

I reached out to both of the Darlingtons to ask what their personal favorites are. André said it’s hard to pick a favorite, but he loves the Blondie and Golden Cadillac (1 ounce Galliano, 2 ounces white crème de cacao and 1 ounce light cream) combination. “I like to think that while sipping one and listening to ‘Parallel Lines’ you’re immersing yourself completely in that very specific scene.”

Tenaya chimed in with her love of Johnny Cash and his “Live from Folsom Prison” album, especially how raw it is, and how you can hear the prison PA in the background and inmates laughing at Cash’s jokes. “Our pairing – a Suffering Bastard – needs no explanation. This drink contains both bourbon and gin – two spirits I love – along with ginger beer and fresh lime. I like to serve it in a tin can.” Suffering Bastard ingredients are 1 ounce bourbon, 1 ounce gin, 1/2 ounce fresh lime syrup, 1/2 ounce simple syrup, dash of Angostura bitters, 4 ounces chilled ginger beer and an orange slice for garnish.

Photo by Jason Varney

I’LL END WITH A FEW LINES the siblings wrote in the book’s introduction that best describe the essence of what they’re trying to get at: “Our family record player held center stage in the living room, and some of our favorite memories are of our parents’ vinyl parties. Picture candles flickering, adults sacked out with gin and tonics. In the semi-darkness, the amp and tuner of our father’s hi-fi glowed like the dashboard of a car on a dark highway.”

Although I’ve never met Andre and Tenaya, we’re already best friends in my mind because this book is so right up my alley I can hardly stand it, and I have a sneaking suspicion it’s going to resonate with many my fellow music and cocktail (or mocktail) fans who still appreciate vinyl and a well-crafted libation. In fact, since many local acts like The Ghost of Paul Revere and Micromassé have been pressing their music on vinyl, perhaps you’ll be inspired to come up with your own local listening party. If so, I’ll clear my schedule.


Priced at $13.99, “Booze and Vinyl” is available at, or ask at your local bookshop.


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