Shake, Rattle & Rocktails: A Sippable Salute to the VMAs

The MTV Video Music Awards are set to air live on Sunday, 8/30. Conceived 36 years ago as a looser, more casual alternative to the Grammy’s, this year’s ceremony is set to pay musical tribute to New York’s heart-rending struggle―and its resilience―during the earliest months of the Covid-19 pandemic, with featured outdoor performances scheduled across the five boroughs. That’s something to celebrate indeed. So we’re kicking things off with a sippable salute to a few of this year’s nominees as well as some of the most memorable music videos in recent years.

Moontini over Manhattan

Sledgehammer | Peter Gabriel, “Sledgehammer”

Characterized by eye-popping animation and anchored by Peter Gabriel’s vocals, and a horn riff reminiscent of the Stax era, “Sledgehammer” remains one of the most iconic music videos of all time. The video won 9 awards at the time of its release in 1987, and ranked fourth on MTV’s list of “100 Greatest Music Videos Ever Made.” Indeed, many say it’s the music video that elevated the medium from musical ancillary to digital art. Only a cocktail as artfully delicious will do. 

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Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice. Shake well, then strain into a cocktail glass. 

Gaga Grande | Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande, “Rain on Me”

This bangin’ bubbly cocktail is a mashup worthy of two of the world’s biggest pop stars ― Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande. Gaga, a former NYC bartender with a soft spot for bourbon and Grande, a Disney alumna with powerhouse pipes, made a splash with their hit release “Rain on Me,” which is up for a Video of the Year and Song of the Year award.

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Combine the bourbon, curacao and bitters in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Stir until well combined, then pour into a cocktail glass and top with the sparkling wine.  

Savage Queen | Megan Thee Stallion, “Savage”

Quarantine or no, it’s been hard to escape the irresistible bounce of Megan Thee Stallion’s viral contender for “Song of the Year.” Fresh, fiery, and funky ―just like this cocktail ― and featuring Keara Wilson’s viral #SavageChallenge dance, the animated video is a style mashup of video games and anime and features Megan taking an army of evil robot dancers. 

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Fill a shaker with ice cubes. Add all ingredients. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass.

Life on Mars | David Bowie, “Life on Mars”

This number, with it’s dreamy lyrics and wandering rhythms, was destined to become a classic, even without its arresting video. Directed by photographer Mick Rock, and featuring a heavily made up David Bowie in his famous ice blue slim-cut suit singing against a white background, the music video took the world by storm and cemented Bowie’s status as star that’s out of this world. 

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Combine all ingredients in a shaker, then fill the shaker with ice. Stir well and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish a lemon twist or, if you’re getting Ziggy with it, a lemon peel cut in the shape of a lightning bolt.