From the day I opened my first bar, MercBar, back in 1993, one of the most important aspects of its 20-year-long run—and this has also been true of all my subsequent restaurants—was the music. I have great memories of talented downtown D.J.’s who used to drop off cassette tapes, then burned CDs. Now every song in the world is living inside our phones. In some respects, I find it tougher to curate playlists today because the choices are endless.

The songs I chose for this list are ones I’ve seen make people happy and keep them in the mood to go out for many years. Nothing is a flash in the pan here. Hit Play and keep the order—no shuffle, please.

John McDonald is the founder of New York’s Mercer Street Hospitality, whose restaurants include Lure Fishbar, Bistrot Leo, Bowery Meat Company, Hancock St., and a new restaurant, Bar Tulix, to open later this month