The new rock ’n’ roll

15 November, 2018

I am writing this on my birthday, and being an (increasingly) old heavy rock fan, I’ve got british rock station planet rock on at full volume.

As always at this time of the year, I tend to get philosophical, and as I listen to Lemmy (dead), Bon Scott (dead), Rory Gallagher (dead) and Ozzy (should be dead), I can’t help wondering what happened to SEX, DRUGS AND ROCK ’N’ ROLL!!!!!, in capital letters and with several explanation marks.

The answer is, of course, that it died with the people who practised it, to be replaced with spas, drudge and rock and roll in lower case and with no exclamation marks at all. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when the image conjured up when you think of stretch limos, copious excess and porn stars isn’t of a muscular rock god, but of the president of the United States.

Long gone are the red Ferraris, Beverley Hills mansions and dead bodies in the swimming pool. In their place are Tai Chi, herbal tea and counselling on a regular basis. Not so much live fast and die young, as live fit and retire to the country at a sensible age.

But all isn’t completely lost to my head-banging generation as our tattoos fade and our hair thins. For it seems that the must-have accessory for today’s rock star isn’t a solid gold chain, a private island, or a busty young girlfriend. It’s a personalised drinks brand.

The trend is not new. Sammy Hagar, ex-frontman of Van Halen, has owned a range of tequilas for some years. But recently there have been several other artists who have embraced the trend, mainly with beer.

It’s not exclusively a heavy rock thing. Paul McCartney, whose new album Egypt Station is ridiculously good for a man in his 70s, gives his own ale, called Old Stinkhorn, to his friends and family. It’s named after a phallic-shaped mushroom that grows on his estate in the southern England county of East Sussex – as perfect an example of English humour as you’ll ever find.

But it’s the rock crowd that produce the best brews: Queen with the hoppy Czech pilsner Bohemian Lager, Motorhead with American pale ale Road Crew, and Iron Maiden with British ale Trooper all lead the way, and even the aforementioned Planet Rock is teaming up with Thornbridge Brewery to launch a beer, and is asking listeners to name it.

I’ve suggested Plectrum – pretty good, eh?

And now the mighty Metallica have taken the whole concept one step further. They have teamed up with acclaimed American whiskey consultant Dave Pickerell to produce Blackened, a mix of bourbons, ryes and American whiskeys finished in black brandy barrels and “sonically enhanced” by low bass notes during maturation – a technique that causes the liquid to vibrate, affecting the interaction between wood and spirit.

Each bottle comes with a specially selected Metallica playlist.

But is there trouble ahead? Metallica’s whiskey is named after one of their songs, and their bestselling album comes in a plain black sleeve – and you can’t get much blacker than that.

Which is where the problem might lie. What if Spinal Tap, who also released an album in a plain black sleeve, want to go down the whiskey route? And then there’s AC/DC, with their Back in Black album.

It has the potential to get very messy.

Old rockers never die, they just end up in litigation. As no one ever said.

Digital Edition

Drinks International digital edition is available ahead of the printed magazine. Don’t miss out, make sure you subscribe today to access the digital edition and all archived editions of Drinks International as part of your subscription.


La'Mel Clarke

Service isn’t servitude: the skill of hosting

La’Mel Clarke, front of house at London’s Seed Library, looks at the forgotten art of hosting and why it deserves the same respect as bartending.