"THE COCKTAIL: The Influence of Spirits on the American Psyche"

With the kind permission of the author, we present several choice paragraphs from Joseph Lanza's new book, "THE COCKTAIL: The Influence of Spirits on the American Psyche."

From the chapter entitled: VOICES IN VERMOUTH (The Cocktail Crooner):

Choice cocktail music, like choice liquor, is best when clarified and distilled. After filtering out the excessive passion, ethnic posturing, and other raw grains, we are left with a sonic tonic that is immaculate yet potent enough to soothe the friskiest of moods. Just as the cocktail is designed to retain a modicum of order in a chaotic world, cocktail music's blend of pianos, vibraphones, guitars, and sultry ballroom orchestras is fashioned precisely to allay the nightclub's potential bedlam of bristling egos, inebriated banter, and clinking crystal. Cocktail singers emerge amid this decor as living spirits whose voices pour like silky vermouth to signal that precious moment when the dimmers grow dimmer, the spotlight glows, and the casino chatter subsides.
From the chapter entitled: LOUNGE:

Like the pit-pit-patter of imitation rain, cocktail music's Bacardi bossa novas and sloe gin sonatas should complement the staccato of cash registers, clinking glasses, sputtering bar faucets, whirring blenders, and the cocktail shaker's transcendent cadences -- all supported by an air-conditioner backwash. Almost any style is appropriate as long as it is atmospheric and conforms to the rarefied standards of easy listening. It could be a Lenny Dee lounge organ, a Roger Williams piano, an Arthur Lyman calypso combo, a swooning Red Norvo xylophone, a variation on Lawrence Welk's champagne music, a Guy Lombardo ballroom orchestra, or a lounge singer.
From the chapter entitled: RAT PACK CABALA:

In 1960, while still garnering Kennedy votes, the Rat Pack was already filming OCEAN'S 11. Released a year before Nicholas Ray's KING OF KINGS, OCEAN'S 11 provided what could be interpreted as an ingenious satire on Christ's apostles (minus one), made just as Vatican II was making earth-shattering changes... OCEAN'S 11 may also have been a sly allusion to an alleged Las Vegas "Black Book," which had legally barred eleven of the FBI's most wanted underworld figures from all casinos. Whatever, the film's preoccupation with numbers invites a treasure trove of numerological references possibly drawn from the Cabala.

From the jacket:

If you think the cocktail is just a drink, Joseph Lanza's THE COCKTAIL will offer many pleasant surprises. It will rouse your thirst, stimulate your brain, and have you looking into your Manhattans and Gimlets with metaphysical amazement.

Combining history, subjective rumination, and a few nods to the occult, author Lanza exposes the cocktail as a ritual, a religious ceremony that sates the modern mind and soul. He shows how cocktails have impacted politics, movies, popular songs, architecture, circadian rhythms, social interactions, and yes, even the mythic power of such American patriarchs as George Washington and his contemporary incarnation Frank Sinatra.

Warning: After reading THE COCKTAIL, a Martini is guaranteed never to taste or feel the same.

Published by St. Martin's Press
Price $18.95, hardbound (with 21 illustrations) ISBN: 0-312-13450-9
168 pp., including Index and Bibliography

Also by Joseph Lanza:


A Surreal History of Muzak, Easy-Listening, and Other Moodsong.

From the jacket:

Joseph Lanza's entertaining and sometimes disquieting book is a cultural history of the ambient sound that surrounds us every day: enticing us to shop in malls, calming us in doctors' and dentists' offices, urging us to work productively and quiety, cheering us while we are "on hold," and accompanying us on our upward (or downward) journeys through life.

Lanza traces the mystifying evolution of mood music, finding its roots in centuries-old Gregorian song, and following it through to twentieth-century composers such as Erik Satie, "easy-listening" artists including Mantovani, Lawrence Welk, Percy Faith and Ray Conniff, and modern experiments like Brian Eno, Angelo Badalamenti, and various "ambient" soundscapers.

Published by Picador USA (a division of St. Martin's Press)
Price: $11.00, paperback ISBN: 0-312-13063-5
280 pp., including Index, Bibliography and Discography + (illustration inserts)

Both books can be found at your local bookstore. Or order direct from St. Martin's Press toll-free ordering number: 1-800-288-2131.

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