Drinking Rules

How to Drink Like Garbage’s Shirley Manson

Garbage is back on tour, and we got lead singer Shirley Manson to reveal the band’s favorite cocktails.

Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast

I was happy to find in your new book, Garbage: This is the Noise That Keeps Me Awake, recipes for some of the band’s favorite cocktails. Why did you want to include them? “I think we are just really immature. To be fair, we’ve always had signature cocktails for periods in our career. I mean not deliberately so but just when we look back we all remember, ‘oh god, that was the night we all got sick on vodka shots or lemon drops.’ Or ‘remember we all got wasted on this and went out and did that.’ Actually, Jason Cohen, the writer that we worked with, I think it his idea if the truth be told. He was like ‘You guys should do a sidebar about all your cocktails and misdemeanors’ and that’s where the idea came from. They’ve gotten a really great reaction. It’s really sweet. Just last night we were doing a book signing and a fan gave us this huge basket and inside it were shot glasses that she had made that emulated the shot glasses in the book and then all the ingredients to make every single one of the cocktails that we mentioned. It was really, really lovely.”

That’s amazing! “We love our booze and so do our fans.”

Is there one signature Garbage cocktail? “No. Here’s the deal, what happens is we drink a certain cocktail until such a time that something bad happens or something outrageous happens or we just get bored with it and we move on. For a while, we were crazy about the Szarlotka, the cocktail that we discovered when we went to Poland, by complete default simply because the bar didn’t really stock much other than bison grass vodka and apple juice, so we didn’t really have choice in what cocktail we consumed that day but they poured them and it was chock full of ice and they were delicious. And then we drank them until quite literally we were sick of them to complete and utter boredom.”

Is there one member of Garbage who is the band’s bartender? “I would say Butch [Vig] is sort of the bartender in some regards. Duke [Erikson] is a close second. They practically grew up together and they are very tight. They’re buddies in the band. They’re partners in crime. They definitely egg each other on a lot of time. So, I would say that they may be the bartenders. They’re always suggesting new ways we can experiment on tour. Just yesterday, Duke was like ‘we should make a new cocktail to go with our tour that we’re on with Debbie Harry and Blondie.’ And we’ve got a new song and there’s a line in it, ‘a sky full of tears,’ and that’s going to be the new name for our cocktail. We’re currently doing mad kind of research on any liqueur or alcohol that is blue.”

Do you request certain things in your rider? “We do. Basically, though you know, when you’re on tour you’re very calorie focused because you’re wearing very tight clothes, so it tends to be just straight vodka with seltzer water and ice and lemon. We keep it pretty plain. And we always know we can get good vodka doesn’t matter where we are in the world. If we order a bottle of vodka we’re all good. We used to be very fancy and have beers and wine and all kinds of different beverages but now it’s just usually Stoli Vodka. There’s always a big, big bottle of vodka backstage.”

I know you’re from Edinburgh, do you also request a case of Scottish soda Irn-Bru? “There has been in the past certainly a lot of experimentation with Irn-Bru but we’re not big fans of Irn-Bru mixed in with alcohol. It’s too sweet. However, you know that Irn-Bru is the hangover cure, you know this, right?”

But does it work? Of course, it works! Noah! Ye, of little faith. Of course, it works.”

Can you get it on your tour? “It’s too difficult to get our hands on. Over the years, we’ve learned what you can and cannot get reliably and we shrunk our rider down to bare bone basics that we’re guaranteed to get no matter what part of the world we’re in.”

Do you have a pre-show drink or meal? “I never eat before I go on because I’ll end up vomiting in my mouth, which is never a glamorous thing to do when you’re in front of thousands of people. So, I don’t really eat eight hours before I preform. I like my digestive track to be pure as the driven snow. However, I do always have a shot of whiskey on what we call the red velvet trey that sits at the base of Butch’s drums. That’s my go to in case of any kind of stressful situation that may arise or any vocal issues that may arise.”

The whiskey helps your vocal cords? “Yeah. I’m sure a doctor would argue otherwise but it always seems to clear my throat if I’m having a froggy throat or it feels a little soar then I can anesthetize it with delicious whiskey. It just gets me through the night for whatever reason I’m not entirely sure but it’s delicious.”

What kind of whiskey do you prefer? “I’m Scottish so I, of course, only drink Scottish whisky. That’s my political act. I’m a huge fan of Highland Park. Highland Park Whisky is pretty much my go to. That’s the thing I love the most. There are other whiskies, like Macallan, that I really love. I love whisky.”

I’ve always wanted to go to Orkney to visit the Highland Park distillery. “I’ve been to Orkney. It’s such a magical island. That’s where I discovered Highland Park for the first time. I actually introduced Highland Park to my parents who are big whisky drinkers. I was on my honeymoon up in Orkney and that’s where I discovered it for the first time and I’ve never looked back.”

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I know Highland Park 18 is a favorite of many drinkers and bartenders, which expression do you like? “I have to confess, I’m rather partial to the 18. But I’m not overly snobby, I’ll have a crack at anything.”

Your dad is a big Scotch drinker? “He’s a member of the Scottish Malt Society in Edinburgh and certainly, while my Mom was alive, we would go there regularly for whisky tastings. He would have us around for tastings and test us and say, ‘now tell me is this a single malt? Is this a blend?’ He’s mental my dad. He’s really intense.”

Do you have a big liquor cabinet at home in L.A.? “I don’t have a big one but a beautiful one. (That’s what she said!) It’s an old 1930s wooden, gorgeous, thing. I bought it for my husband’s birthday and, of course, I have taken over ownership of it just by default. We have a pretty cool liquor cabinet, I have to say.”

Currently, what’s in the liquor cabinet? “I’m looking at it right now. It’s quite mental how much whisky there is. There’s Talisker and Highland Park and Glenlivet and Laphroaig. And then we’ve got one from the Scottish Malts Society, which is Sangria on the Terrace 986, whatever that means. All the whiskies made by the Malt Society have got these most incredible names. We always have vodka. We always have Myers’s Rum in case we want a Dark ‘n Stormy. Oooh, there’s a Glenmorangie. We always have pisco. We always have tequila. That’s basically our basics, we don’t really go much fancier than that.”    

When it comes to cocktails, do you have any favorites? “I love a Dirty Martini. I love a Pisco Sour. And I love a Skinny Margarita. They’re my three go tos.”

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Interview has been condensed and edited.