Banjo After Dark started as a shelter in place project during the Covid-19 pandemic. I would sit in my back room and pair a cocktail with a banjo tune. I couldn't be happier that now, as we come out of lockdown, B.A.D. is a live show! Every Thursday at Borelli's in Chicago (2124 W Lawrence Ave.) the old time community meets for a short show at 7pm always followed by an open jam at 8pm. Weeks alternate between featured guest performers and the house jug band. Check in on this page for the upcoming schedule and video posts + cocktail recipes.
11/11 - JUG BAND HAPPY HOUR BAND
11/18 - WANDERING BOYS DUO (JOHN HUBER AND AARON SMITH)
11/25 - CANCELLED FOR THANKSGIVING BREAK
My favorite Mississippi John Hurt tune played on my Chuck Lee fretless Deep Hollow banjo.
The Boulevardier is:
-1oz Knob Creek Bourbon
-1oz Ransom Sweet Vermouth
-1/2 oz Campari
Mix together over ice and strain into glass and garnish with an orange peel.
"Rise When the Rooster Crows" is a great tune recorded by the great Uncle Dave Macon. I like the way the lyric imagery feels lighthearted sometimes and heavy others. Also, the idea of a duck chewing tobacco. The Rooster cocktail is a variation of the Red Rooster I found from the Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar and Grill (they add Lychee Puree which I did not have). Enjoy!
– 2 oz Nikka Coffey Japanese Whiskey
– ¼ oz St Elizabeth Allspice Dram
– ½ oz Lemon Juice
– ½ oz Ginger Simple Syrup*
In an empty cocktail shaker, add all above ingredients. Add ice and shake. Strain into glass filled with fresh ice. At Blue Ribbon, Hor serves it in a rocks glass, garnished with lime zest and a maraschino cherry.
I'm playing a 12 String banjo with 7 sympathetic strings. A beautiful instrument made by Noel Booth. I love the way is sounds when played slow and I like "Nancy" that way too. Pairs well with a Negroni:
-1 oz Big Gin barrel aged gin
-1/2 oz Ransom Sweet Vermouth
-1/2 oz Campari
Mix over Ice and garnish with and orange peel. Note: Usually there is a full ounce of vermouth and campari, but I like to cut them back.
I love playing during a rain storm with the window open...so this upload features the thunder as a guest artist. Last Chance Blues is another tune with a banjo tuning named after it and it's heavy on the mood. I paired it with a "Gambler" since those guys take lots of chances. It's a simple drink. 2oz Templeton Rye, 1/3 oz Basil Simple Syrup and a squeeze of lime on crushed ice in a Moscow Mule style tumbler.
The music of John Prine means a great deal to me and his recent death is a loss for everyone. His record label (Oh Boy Records) sent out a message with memories of John and a recipe for his favorite cocktail "The Handsome Johnny." They recommended enjoying the drink while listening to John's music. All week I've been teaching my students at The Old Town School of Folk Music John's song "Souvenirs" and for Banjo After Dark I made a Handsome Johnny and played that song.
Here's the recipe from Oh Boy:
1 to 2 oz Vodka Red Smirnoff (not Blue)
Ginger Ale- John recommends diet ginger ale, not regular
Lemon - In the Summertime Lime - In the Wintertime
Fill a cocktail glass with ice, pour in vodka pour in diet ginger ale and stir. Drop the lemon or lime in from approximately 6" above...do not squeeze it.