In Good Spirits

Drink to
America’s Music

By Cheré Coen  |  Photography courtesy of Gaylord Opryland

It’s only natural that Tennessee and Mississippi would name cocktails after the native sons who gave the country its distinctive sound.

Tennessee and Mississippi tourism tout their states as birthing America’s music. And rightly so. Blues musicians from deep in the Mississippi Delta, country singers from throughout the state, and a hip-gyrating man from Tupelo brought their unique sounds to Memphis and Nashville to record and share their tunes with the world. The rest is music history.

Naturally, cocktails in both regions tend to bask in this glory.

There’s the “Ms. Pat’s Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Puff” at Bar DKDC or the “Black Magic Woman” at The Blind Bear in Memphis. The Skull’s Rainbow Room in Nashville serves up “Ramblin’ Man” and “For the Good Times.”

Even water parks throw a nod to the music that took America by storm. SoundWaves at Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville offers two indoor bars and two outdoor tiki bars for its patrons looking to cool off. The water park cocktails run the gamut, but lean toward the refreshing style of tikis to coincide with the water attraction, says Trudy Thomas, resort director of beverage.

“SoundWaves is a little tiki-inspired,” she explains of the attraction’s cocktail menu. “I wanted something reflective of summer but also reflective of the history of tiki.”

And the drinks also mirror the city’s famous musical heritage.

“All of SoundWaves drinks have a music name and a musical reference,” said Thomas.

There’s the signature “Blue Note,” combining RumHaven coconut water rum, Grey Goose vodka, Blue Curacao liqueur (for that lovely azure tint) and citrus, served in a keepsake container. “In Harmony” mixes up Jack Daniel’s whiskey with Bacardi Rum, passion fruit, lemon juice, and bitters.

One cocktail going the extra mile is the “Standing Ovation,” featuring aged rum, Cointreau, pineapple juice, and banana liqueur served in what resembles a sterling silver pineapple. The cup’s actually plastic — it is a water park, after all — but the extra attention to detail makes it special.

“The cup really sets it off,” Thomas says.

Here’s a SoundWaves musically-inspired drink that doubles as a refreshing summer cocktail. The Bajan punch Thomas incorporates may be created at home by mixing 12 ounces each of the lemon, lime, and orange juices with four ounces of Falernum syrup. Thomas also suggests mixing the juices with simple syrup and a dash of cinnamon and ground cloves for a touch of spice.

SoundWaves Lil’ Off Key Cocktail is one of many fun recipes in a free downloadable digital recipe book titled “Recipe Notes: A Taste of Music City,” produced by Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. Food and drink lovers can access it at

SoundWaves Lil’ Off Key Cocktail
From SoundWaves at Gaylord Opryland

1 1/4 ounces Maker’s Mark
4 ounces Bajan punch (12 ounces each of lemon, lime and orange juice with 4 ounces Falernum syrup.)
1/4 ounce Kahlua
A sprig of mint

Directions: Shake the first two ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Then pour over fresh ice into a cocktail glass. Float the Kahlua — slowly pour about 1/4-ounce Kahlua on top of the drink. Garnish with mint.

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