Rock star Hagar talks rum and coffee table books

SUZETTE LABOY Associated Press Published:

MIAMI (AP) -- One is a rock star and the other a rock star chef, but Sammy Hagar and Emeril Lagasse have a shared passion for food and music.

"He loves music as much as I love cooking," Hagar said before giving a weekend concert at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, where he teamed up with Lagasse for a night of classic guitar tunes and rum.

The men have been friends for years, often even vacationing together. Lagasse even cooked at Hagar's wedding more than twenty years ago -- before the chef was even on the Food Network.

"Sometimes he cooks for me in the house," Hagar said. "I have an acoustic guitar and play and goof off while he's cooking. And I will jump up and say, 'Emeril, let me cook one dish.' And I'll bang something out."

Hagar, known as the "Red Rocker" and lead singer of the band Van Halen, sold his part of the Cabo Wabo Tequila company (he still owns the Cabo Wabo restaurants and has the logo tattooed on his left arm) not long ago and turned his attention to rum. Sammy's Beach Bar Rum is made in Hawaii, where Hagar has a home.

"The only white rum you can drink straight," he said after taking a sip of a mojito made with his rum. "You can do shots like tequila. Put it over rocks. It's so pure."

Hagar grew up around food -- his grandfather was a "real" Italian chef -- and he often cooks at home. But not for a lot of people.

"That's stress," he said, adding that his backup plan was never to be a chef.

He has a handful of restaurants and bars and a best-selling autobiography, not to mention the rum business. But it was clear while hanging with Hagar and sipping rum drinks that this funny curly-haired rocker is always thinking of his next project. He said he's working on a coffee table book that will include cocktails and food pairings, naturally.

"I would just like to be the real most interesting man in the world," he joked. "I want to do so many things. And I want to do them good."