Taste Notes - Brown Sugar

When you're looking for some Jonz in your Bonz

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A column where every week or two I will try to put out a cocktail based on one of our album picks on InTune - providing an interesting alternative to capture the essence of a record in a new way.

D'Angelo - Brown Sugar

Brown Sugar is D'Angelo's debut album, released in 1995. Brown Sugar was my choice for our "classic talk" in our most recent episode.

D'Angelo is a renowned vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and producer. He's held in high regard alongside other greats, such as Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill. My first real introduction to him was his most recent (and equally incredible) project, Black Messiah and I quickly dove into the rest of the discography.

Unlike so many other RnB artists in this era, D'Angelo never submitted to using well-known producers to create buzz - he himself handled most of the production on Brown Sugar. He also did most of the instrumentation himself.

Mix that all together with smooth, sensual vocals with a vintage tinge and you have a nearly perfect album. Beginning with the title track - a sexy smooth ode to marijuana transitioning to the next, "Alright" being an open yet earnest look into relationships.

The influence Prince had over D'Angelo can be found all over the album, not just in terms of lyrical content, but also instrumentally (if a little more subdued). Anyone who has even the slightest passion for neo soul and R&B, Brown Sugar represents so much of what's good that the genre has to offer.

For this record, I couldn't help but imagine it as a more of smooth, creamy but dark drink. I looked at a handful of references before I found one that fit my idea. It's got a short but sweet description and the addition of Frangelico really set it apart to me.

Here's the recipe I used as a reference:

International Incident

3/4 oz. Grey Goose Vodka

3/4 oz. Disaronno Originale Amaretto liqueur

1 1/2 oz. Baileys Original Irish Cream liqueur

3/4 oz. Coffee liqueur (Kahlua)

3/4 oz. Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur

1/4 oz. Abiding Citizen Rich Vanilla Syrup

Shake and fine strain into martini glass. Garnish with coffee beans.

As an Irish myself this may sound like heresy, but this might have called for too much Baileys as the core of this drink. If I were to make this again (and I probably will to be honest) I would be sure to put in less and maybe think of something else to substitute. I thought about garnishing with Brown Sugar, but I thought that might end up being a little too on the nose.

Tune in next week for another drink!

Aidan Liam Cloet

Published a year ago