June 23: Robert Hunter

hunter-garciaWhen is a key member of a rock band not part of the band? When he’s the lyricist. Such is the unusual state of songwriter Robert Hunter’s (born on this day in 1941) membership in the Grateful Dead.

Hunter (seen at left with writing partner and Grateful Dead leader Jerry Garcia) served as the Dead’s main lyricist for most of their thirty year run. His often surrealistic lyrics complimented the Dead’s psychedelic jamming. Hunter’s lyrics would help make albums like Aoxomoxoa, Working Man’s Dead and American Beauty rock classics, and a lyric of his from the proto-rap song “Truckin,” “what a long strange trip it’s been,” has become a longstanding hippie slogan. Hunter was such an important member of the band, that when the Grateful Dead was inducted in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, he was included on the list of inductees, making him the only non-performer to be inducted as part of a musical group.

American Beauty is considered by some to be the Dead’s masterpiece and includes the song “Friend Of The Devil,” which Hunter has said he and Garcia thought that “that was the closest we’ve come to what may be a classic song.” So, it’s only appropriate that you toast Hunter, Garcia and the rest of the Grateful Dead with an American Beauty cocktail. The drink has a rosy color and a slight hint of mint. But don’t let appearances fool you, this beauty’s heavy alcohol content packs a punch.

American Beauty

  • 1/2 ounce Brandy
  • 1/2 ounce Dry Vermouth
  • 1/2 ounce orange juice
  • 1/2 ounce grenadine
  • 1 dash Creme de Menthe
  • 1 splash Port Wine

Shake everything except the port thoroughly in a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice. Strain in to a cocktail glass and carefully float a splash of port into the glass. To float a liquor, slowly pour it over an inverted teaspoon (round side up) and into the glass.

Tomorrow: The original American Sweetheart.



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