If you’ve read this post, you know my throw-down challenge that I have the most extensive Christmas music collection in North America. Today, I’m going to focus on a Christmas cocktail party. And I’m going to make it easy. I’m assuming this is a last minute party and you don’t have time to gather a load of individual songs. So I’ll be focussing on a few CDs — mostly compilation CDs — that will give you a party’s worth of Martini and Cosmo tinged holiday cheer. With a ten CD shuffler and these CDs, you’re good to go. Start mixing.
1. Ultra Lounge: Christmas Cocktails
There are three volumes: Christmas Cocktails Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. I’d recommend all three. If you can only afford or find one, make it Part Two. With lounge gods like Peggy Lee, Julie London, Dean Martin and Ferrante and Teicher, this is the collection that will keep your stick swizzling.
2. Yule B’ Swingin’
This collection takes it a bit earlier than the Lounge Era. Think Ella Fitzgerald, Glenn Miller and Kay Starr. In the worlds of Louis Prima (the first song on the track) “What will Santa Claus do when he finds everybody swingin’?” Indeed. He’ll know this CD is in the machine.
3. Pottery Barn Hip Holidays Trilogy
I hope, I hope Pottery Barn is still selling this compilation. It’s the best. Everything from Herbie Hancock to James Brown’s Soulful Christmas to Al Hirt and Ann Margaret doing the definitive version of “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”
4. Big Band Christmas Swing
This CD doesn’t just feature Benny Goodman and Lester Lanin. It’s got newer, retro artists such as Squirrel Nut Zippers and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. It’s another Pottery Barn compilation, so hopefully, they are still selling it.
5. Lifetime Music Presents “Christmas Belles”
Why is it television stations (yes, it’s that Lifetime) and stores (see Pottery Barn above) are the official guardians of alternative Christmas? Here’s a great CD featuring all the babes you’d love to see hanging around your tree in a short fur trimmed elf suit. I’m talking Pearl Bailey singing “Jingle Bells Cha-Cha-Cha”, Nancy Wilson with “That’s What I Want for Christmas”, Brenda Lee belting out “Papa Noel” and my personal favorite, the under-rated Doris Day performing “Silver Bells”.
That’s five collections, featuring nine CDs stuffed with holiday canapes. Each CD is worthy enough to go through the cycle again. But if you are serving the cocktails I think you’re serving, once is enough. Send your revelers home once these CDs have cycled through.
Need some recipes? Here are ten great ones. I recommend the Drunken Elf.
And if you are making classic Martinis? Remember that the only true Martini is made with gin. And as my friend Rob cautions, you just wash the ice cubes with vermouth. Nothing more.
P.S. — You may ask at this point why I’m departing from winemaking topics and Sonoma to focus on Christmas. Well, there are no posts I’ve ever written that are more popular than my music posts. The three top hit magnets: my post on the Best Christmas Songs You’ve Never Heard, The Ten Best Cowboy Songs and my post on Gram Parsons. Believe me, if I could write a post on Western Christmas Songs Sung by Gram Parsons, I’d do it. I’d have thousands of hits. Until then, this will have to do.
P.P.S. — Yup, no sooner had a posted this when I checked my stats and I had a visitor who got here on the keywords “Gram Parsons Christmas”.