In the early ’60s, Phil Spector was the important person in pop. At the age of 21, the ever-controversial producer (who is today serving 19 years in prison for the 2003 death of actress Lana Clarkson) became the chief owner of his own label, Philles Records, and went on to produce 18 records in the Top 40, making household names of The Ronettes and Darlene Love (both later inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame); his song “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” first recorded by The Righteous Brothers, was the most popular radio song of the 20th century; even after this period of prominence, Spector gave life to one of the most famous records of all time, Let It Be by the Beatles. But perhaps Spector’s most important gift to the music industry was the Wall of Sound, a studio technique whereby tracks are layered on top of one another to produce a kind of sonic architecture, which has influenced the way albums across varying genres have been made ever since. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys has called Spector the “biggest inspiration in my whole life.”
This whiskey cocktail from Ramona bar in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, borrows its name from one of Spector’s later works, the Leonard Cohen album Death of a Ladies’ Man. “When we first started, all of our cocktail names were literary, film or music references,” says Scott Schneider, co-owner of Ramona, the sister bar of the old East Village haunt Elsa. “It was carried over from there. Death of a Ladies’ Man always been one of our best-selling whiskies.” With rye at its base, the cocktail is layered with Islay Scotch and tobacco bitters. “People expect the drink to be really smoky,” Schneider says. “It’s not. You can taste all the flavors, but it’s surprisingly round and balanced.” Find the recipe below, along with a playlist, curated by Schneider, that “starts with songs recorded by Phil Spector,” he says, “and moves on to those that openly emulate his style.”
The Wall of Sound
Sweet and Smoky
2 ounces rye whiskey
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
3/4 ounce water-diluted maple syrup
1/4 ounce Laphroaig 10 Year
3 dashes tobacco bitters (or, 2 dashes Angostura Bitters)
Lemon rind (garnish)
1. Combine all ingredients, except lemon rind, in a shaker with ice. Shake well.
2. Strain into coupe glass.
3. Garnish with lemon twist.