When Memphis Slim sang about troubles with a lady friend who loved her whiskey - "every time I wanna find you, you're laying around some whiskey bar," he wailed in "Whiskey Store Blues" - aged single-barrel bourbon probably wasn't the source of his problems. But Hans Offringa believes the blues and high-end bourbon complement each other in significant ways.
In his new book, Bourbon & Blues, Offringa proposes a dozen blues artist and bourbon brand pairings. "The whole purpose is to use all your senses," says Offringa, who will be signing his book this afternoon at The Pike Brewing Company. "Just as you determine what the bass player is doing, what the lyrics are doing, you take a spirit and enjoy all the flavors. In my opinion, they go well together."
While blues is an immediate expression of heartache and bourbon is a time-enriched celebration of corn, Offring says both genres are studies in maturation. Blues music, he points out, developed from West African traditions. Bourbon's also evolved since early American farmers started distilling their corn.
"Bourbon, like the life of African Americans, went through steep valleys and ended up on hills," says the Dutch-born author, who divides his time between Europe and the U.S.
Offringa suggests listening to Memphis Slim while drinking Marker's Mark.
"It's a smooth bourbon and Memphis Slim was a smooth operator," Offringa says.
Although it's not a bourbon, Offringa made room in his book for Jack Daniel's, which he advocates savoring while listening to Keith Richards - or some other artist.
"It's not my law," Offringa says. "Don't take it too seriously."