Are We Having Any Fun Yet? The Cooking & Partying Handbook

Author: Sammy Hagar with Josh Sens

Dey Street Books, September 15, 2015
Hardcover: 9780062370006, (320 pages) $29.99
E-Book: 9780062370013, $23.99

imageYes, this lifestyle cookbook is the brainchild of THE Sammy Hagar, the high-energy rocker who found success as a kickin’ solo act, and was frontman for the bands Montrose and Van Halen. Over the years, the Red Rocker developed the reputation of party host extraordinaire, which helped bolster the image of his Cabo Wabo Tequila, Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum brands, and Sammy’s Beach Bar and Grill franchises.

But can he cook? At first I was skeptical. Then I read a few pages of this cookbook and realized that the most remarkable thing about it is that the guy is genuinely passionate about food.

Are We Having Any Fun Yet starts with a foreword by none other than Emeril Lagasse, Hagar’s true-to-life partner in culinary crime. Hagar goes on to tell us he learned to appreciate the good life from his namesake, his idolized Italian grandfather, Sam, whose favorite hobbies were “hunting, fishing, lying, and stealing.”

The bulk of the book is divided into chapters titled after Hagar’s favorite party cities. Cabo San Lucas is the inspiration for Lobster Burrito, Epazote Quesadilla, Quick and Easy Guacamole, and Sammy’s Wabo Shrimp. Maui spurred recipes for Vegetable Frittata, Papaya-Marinated Chicken, Vegetable Sitr-Fry, and Spaghetti with Black Olives and Orange Zest. Hagar’s home in California’s Mill Valley is the place where he whips up down-home favorites, such as Beet and Strawberry Salad, Homemade Stock, White Beans with Serrano Ham Hock, Chorizzo and Pork Loin Paella, and Braised Lamb Shanks.

And let’s not forget the cocktails. Heralded for his love and appreciation for a well-crafted adult beverage, after dark, of course, Hagar gives numerous recipes for his own creations. This impressive selection includes the tequila-based Red Rocker, Bloody Maria, and Waborita. There’s a vodka cocktail or two, and rum drinks, including his most famous of all, the passionfruit-tinged PMS.

I had a hard time putting this book down, not only because of the fifty well-written recipes, but also because of the narrative. Taking up at least as much page space as the recipes are Hagar’s food and party stories, along with personal photographs, which all revolve around his life on stage, his family, and his friends. The language in these sections is sometimes coarse. But you just can’t help but connect with a guy who makes his own coconut cream, practically worships perfect mushrooms, gives generously to charities, and plans to consume all ten thousand bottles of wine in his cellar before he checks out.

The book’s main weakness is its lack of any type of dessert. But we’re not throwing a tea party, here. So mix yourself up a Sammy’s Rockin’ Picasso or whip up something simple and familiar like Potato and Leek Soup. It’s time to have fun with Sammy Hagar.