To find the most compelling music for parties, audiophile Charlotte Druckman turned to the pros behind the best restaurant soundtracks—and suggests three winning cocktails to pair with the soundtrack.

Charlotte Druckman
Updated March 31, 2015

Cocktail Party for 25

Musical selections by restaurateur Stephen Starr.

Popping a few CDs into a sound system isn’t good enough for the best restaurants anymore. These days, playlists are expected to show as much creativity as menus.

Restaurateur Stephen Starr personally approves the playlists at all his places, including Striped Bass in Philadelphia and Buddakan in New York City. A former club owner and music promoter, he has wide-ranging tastes that veer from punk (the Ramones) to folk (Joni Mitchell).

Starr swears by a mix of rock and folk—like the playlist below—for his own parties. "When I first opened restaurants, I played crazy stuff," he says. "But people didn’t want to hear vocals, so we had to change it." At Morimoto in Manhattan, for example, he sticks to upbeat global music.Music: