OPEN LETTER: Dan Bonnici of Pagan & his blossoming romance with vermouth
In the mix of their ‘Evil Eye’ east coast tour, we asked Pagan’s Dan Bonnici to share with us his ultimate tour playlist and favourite drink to listen with. What we got, was something far more, we had no idea Dan’s love of Vermouth was so, well, romantic…
It was a dreadfully warm summer’s day in Sydney. Some would even say sweltering. Pagan were to play a show at the newly opened Crowbar for New Year’s Eve, but I had flown into town early to visit friends and just generally clear my head.
I had made plans to eat lunch with my good friend and Young Henrys marketing prince, David “Fez” Fesdekjian who took me to a very beautiful deli, simply and eloquently titled “Continental”. Together, Fez and I sat at the bar and snacked on a dazzling array of fine cheeses, cured meats, tinned fish and preserves served at the recommendation of the lovely young lady working behind the counter. Fez wore a dazzling floral shirt and I can’t remember what I was wearing (probably something nice), but as we worked our way through this feast, we chatted about work, music, films, television shows and other general pop culture je ne sais quoi.
When it came time to order a drink, I asked Fez what he was drinking. Fez explained that he’d been recently getting into vermouth, and he was about to reach the bottom of a vermouth spritz. A refreshing vision of a drink which seemed to suit the day’s weather perfectly. He told me that Young Henrys had recently made their own brand of vermouth and asked me if I had ever dabbled in vermouths before. I said I hadn’t really apart from them being an accessory to various cocktails but was keen to try and let it win me over as the hero of a drink. Dry vermouth, shrub, bitters and sparkling wine. We ordered two, tapped glasses to good health and proceeded to sip on a taste sensation that would change the course of summer, and potentially the entirety of the new year for me. This beautiful dry liquid for me was so much more than a fortified wine; it was to become the flavour of 2019. A dark horse that would take me on a ride to places I never dreamed of.
Fez and I parted ways after polishing off our drinks and assorted deli with a handshake and a pat on the back, and I proceeded to stroll through the summer sun to meet Pagan’s singer, Nikki and her boyfriend Stevie at the Young Henrys brewery who I had not yet seen during my time in Sydney. We embraced on my arrival and knowing that Young Henrys had indeed crafter their own vermouth, I told them.
I had a surprise for them and went to the bar to order three with soda water. The looks on their faces at first sip told me that I wasn’t crazy, and that this was something very, very real. We proceeded to sip on vermouths throughout the afternoon, some with soda water and some just straight over ice. A world of possibilities in every glass. We were converted, we were now followers of the church of vermouth and ready to place all of my money in the collection plate.
Over the months that follow, my band mates and I would begin to explore the vast world of vermouth. Understanding its subtleties and nuances. The differences in its sweet and dry varieties. Vermouth and beer bare many striking similarities in my opinion, in that they are both crisp and refreshing drinks that bring friends together, settle scores between enemies and are built on intricate craftsmanship, made by the underdogs for underdogs. The Pagan x Evil Eye Tour playlist is not only a repellent designed to ward off the shit prog-metal libraries of sound engineers, but also to create a mood and feeling at every show that is an homage to the same qualities that I can taste in every sip of a refreshing vermouth served in a cold glass - Class, passion, rebelliousness, sexuality and grace. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed making it, and as much I enjoy the taste of vermouth; the edgy, cheeky, beautiful unsung anti-hero of fine liquor.
Pagan's 'Evil Eye' tour continues in the Gold Coast & Byron bay this weekend. Get ya tickets via paganrocknroll.com.