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Cheers to the Music!

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No, most of us probably won’t ever get the chance to have Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert or Eric Church over for drinks and conversation. But catching a CMA Songwriters Series show might be the next best thing. “It’s everyone having a party together,” says Kix Brooks of the series, now in its 10th year at Joe’s Pub in New York City. The shows feature songwriters and performers playing some of their best-known songs and talking about the stories behind them. Or whatever else passes through their heads. “There are no set lists, no demands on us. We do what we feel in the moment,” says the show’s host, songwriter Bob DiPiero, who created the event to showcase Nashville’s songwriting community.

And the drinks are flowing. Just ask singer Jamey Johnson, who was once sent so many drinks by the audience that he fell asleep onstage (“Head into the mic!” says DiPiero, who himself prefers to stick with Coke). But it’s the kind of place where it’s okay to slur your way through a song. “The crowd is not judging you, as long as they’re being entertained,” says Brooks. “It’s just real. That’s the magic of these shows,” says DiPiero. The real stars of the show are the stories behind the songs. “It’s about what we do with our buds and our wives and the people we love and the people who broke our hearts,” says Brooks. “You know, it’s the things that you just sit around and talk about when you’re sitting around and talking. That’s what music is all about.”

Pub Favorites

TRY THESE FUN COCKTAILS FROM THE BAR’S MENU AT HOME

1/SECRET SUMMER

Makes: 1 serving

Add 2 oz. añejo rum, 1 oz. mango puree, ½ oz. fresh lime juice and ¼ oz. simple syrup to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into a chilled coupe champagne glass. Garnish with a lime slice.

2/BLONDE IN PERIL

Makes: 1 serving

Add 1 oz. vodka, 1 oz. white vermouth, ½ oz. orange liqueur and ½ oz. fresh lemon juice to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Pour into a chilled tall glass. Add ¼ oz. grenadine syrup to glass (it will sink to the bottom). Garnish with a lemon slice.

3/SWEET TALKER

Makes: 1 serving

Add 1.5 oz. spiced-pear vodka, ½ oz. elderflower liqueur and ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into a chilled champagne flute. Top with prosecco. Garnish with a lemon twist.

4/MY KIND OF GIRL

Makes: 1 serving

Muddle 3 to 4 strawberries, 2 mint sprigs and 2 to 3 leaves fresh basil in bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add 2 oz. whiskey, ¾ oz. fresh lime juice and ice. Shake well. Strain into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with a strawberry and sprig of fresh basil.

5/SOUTHERN BELLE

Makes: 1 serving

Add 2 oz. mandarin-orange-flavored vodka, 1 oz. peach liqueur and ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with an orange twist.