Food and Drink

ARTINI Week Three

Frank Jones of The Gibson for ARTINI 2012. Photo credit: Dan Swartz. Courtesy of the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

ARTINI 2012 is underway! Twelve** Eleven talented bartenders have created cocktails inspired by works in the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Every Friday the We Love DC drinks team will wrap up the week’s feature nights with reviews of each ARTINI entry, to culminate at the gala on March 31st. Check out our notes from Week One and Week Two – and find out what we thought of Week Three.

ARTINI 7: Chantal Tseng, Tabard Inn
Inspiration: Indian Warrior, Alexander Phimister Proctor, 1918, bronze

Reviewer: Fedward

Chantal Tseng’s Horsefeather, inspired by Alexander Phimister Proctor’s 1918 bronze, Indian Warrior, comes with a story of its concept. It “… represents a kind of pre-battle elixir, kind of like an offering to the warrior gods.” It’s a tasty concoction of Mount Gay rum, echinacea root tea, lime juice, honey syrup, molasses, and allspice dram, garnished with a slice of “charred spiced dried apple” (which was flamed on the spot). Oh, and it was served with a side of smoked hickory and roasted coconut popcorn. Chantal’s description of the drink is apt. The elements of smoke, spice, and earth (in the apple, tea, and molasses) bring visions of the warrior himself to life. Of the three ARTINIs I’ve had so far, its taste is most evocative of its inspiration, although Rachel Sergi’s Niagara was more visually apt. I’ll be very curious which approach the ARTINI judges prefer. Continue reading

Food and Drink

ARTINI: Week One Features

Oyamel ARTINI by Daniel Swartz, Courtesy of Corcoran Gallery of Art

It is ARTINI season – which might just be the happiest season of all for your We Love DC lushes, who think a combination of fine art and fine cocktails is pretty hard to beat.

Hosted by the 1869 Society to benefit the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s “ArtReach” education programs, the ARTINI gala on March 31st is an annual event not to be missed. Twelve** Eleven of DC’s best mixologists will engage in a friendly competition to make drinks inspired by impressive artworks from the Corcoran’s collection.

Throughout the month of March, these drinks are available on Feature Nights at each participating bar, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Corcoran. During these opportunities to sample, the public can also vote for their favorite among the drinks. The Drinks Team will be tasting them all and posting our thoughts here in weekly round-ups – and we encourage you to visit each bar and taste along with us.
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Entertainment, Food and Drink, Special Events, The Features, We Love Drinks

Drinks Preview: ARTINI 2012

ARTINI 2011, image courtesy of the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Photo credit: Ben Droz.

A gala that combines almost all of my favorite things – parties, drinks and art – into one glamorous mix? Always fantastic. Get ready for the fifth annual love affair of cocktails and art that is ARTINI.

Presented by the Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art + Design’s 1869 Society and sponsored by Washingtonian, while the actual gala is a month away on Saturday, March 31, the competition itself starts next week. Twelve (Eleven as of 3/27, see update**) of the top mixologists in the city will showcase their talent and creativity in a unique way – by crafting cocktails inspired by works of art in the Corcoran collection. Last year it was an honor to serve as a judge on the Critic’s Choice panel; this year I’m happy to just kick back as a partygoer. Tickets are now on sale and do sell out quickly, so snap yours up – $95 for 1869 Society members, $115 for non-Society members. All proceeds benefit ArtReach, the Corcoran’s educational outreach program, celebrating its twentieth year of visual arts education for local students.

Sample the entries all March long as the twelve** participants roll out their artistic cocktails at weekly Feature Nights starting next week and continuing every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday until the event. Our dedicated team of WLDC lushes – Brittany, Fedward, Moses and myself – will attempt to report on as many of these drinks as possible throughout the month. Look for our round-ups in the weekly Friday Happy Hour!

Now that we have all the details out of the way, I wonder if I have any predictions? Continue reading

Food and Drink, Special Events, The Features, We Love Drinks

Drinks Special: ARTINI 2011

Photo courtesy of
‘Drinks stations at ARTINI 2011′
courtesy of ‘Jenn Larsen’

It’s no secret that cocktails and art fuel my life. To have both combined together in one heady mix makes for glamour overload. Last Saturday night saw me at such an event, the annual ARTINI gala at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, hosted by the 1869 Society. I’ve said it before, and I’m not ashamed to repeat that being asked to serve on the judging panel of the first Critic’s Choice was a great honor and one of the high points so far of my We Love DC life.

With an estimated attendance of 750 guests mingling under classical columns in the long red gallery, dressed in the first finery of spring, it was a gorgeous scene. After my judging duties were over I stood on the marble steps just watching the crowd, marveling at how much DC has changed in the two decades I’ve been here. There was a vibrant energy, combined with a fashion sense ranging from quirkily vintage to elegantly artsy. My guest, no slouch herself when it comes to fashion and art, described it as “an eye candy madhouse.”

But this isn’t a social column! ARTINI is first and foremost an event designed to showcase the glory of the Corcoran’s collection as it inspires 12 local mixologists to be daring and creative. We already know the winner of both the Critic’s Choice and the Washingtonian Fan Favorite was Ronald Flores of Art and Soul‘s Coleman’s Juice. The Critic’s Choice was a tight race with Joe Ambrose of POV‘s Joan’s Palate coming in at second by only 0.1, rounded out by Brent Davis from AGAINN‘s The Fall of Grace. In the Fan Favorite, Brent took second and Cafe Atlantico‘s Owen Thompson’s Daisy If You Do… took third.

How did all the drinks fare? As judges we had to consider three elements – taste, presentation, and connection to the inspiration art. Trying to hit all three buttons isn’t easy.

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Food and Drink, Special Events, The Daily Feed

ARTINI Congratulations!

Ronald Flores of Art and Soul with his ARTINI Coleman's Juice. Photo by author.

Congratulations to Ronald Flores of Art and Soul, who was awarded the Critics’ Choice at Saturday night’s ARTINI 2011 celebration at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. The intrepid We Love DC drinks team had been following the entries closely every week with our Friday Happy Hours, and congratulations are really due to all the competing mixologists. It was an honor for me to serve on the judging panel alongside last year’s winner Justin Guthrie (now Estadio’s general manager), Todd Thrasher of Restaurant Eve/PX, Corcoran’s assistant curator for contemporary art Beatrice Gralton, Washingtonian editor Sophie Gilbert, and notable chef Mike Isabella of the soon-to-open Graffiato.

It was an extremely tight race! Flores’ cocktail was inspired by William Christenberry’s sculpture Coleman’s Cafe and was crafted with Gentleman Jack Tennessee whiskey, mezcal, yuzu-agave syrup, rhubarb bitters, and housemade vanilla cola. Garnished with a housemade Slim Jim (which honestly I mistook for a half-smoked cigar upon first sight, a nice homage to Christenberry’s shack of a cafe), the drink was called Coleman’s Juice and had a distinctly smoky flavor.

The evening was filled with gorgeous guests (seriously, anyone who still thinks Washington is “Hollywood for ugly people” needs to get to next year’s ARTINI and be blown away by the eye candy!) in the beautiful classical surroundings of the Corcoran. I’ll detail the other very worthy contestants and wrap up my experience later this week in Thursday’s We Love Drinks.

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Friday Happy Hour: ARTINI Edition – Week Four

Photo credit: Daniel Swartz/REVAMP.COM Courtesy of Corcoran Gallery of Art

For the last time in 2011, Friday Happy Hour takes a look at the Cocoran’s ARTINI 2011 Each of the twelve participating bars have a created a special cocktail inspired by works from the Cocoran’s collection which are on offer leading up to the April 2nd gala. Each bar gets one “feature night” when their creation is showcased and a portion of the proceeds is donated to the Corcoran – though the drink continues to be available the entire month.

With the gala tomorrow, this week saw the final three features: AGAINN, The Gibson, and P.O.V.. All three drinks this week were quite good in what was perhaps the strongest line-up of any of the four three-bar groupings.
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The Daily Feed

This Week in Food

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

Open!

Two new places opened up on H Street this week, and they’re sure to be favorites for residents and other Washingtonians. For less than $9 you can get a full plate of stir-fry at Khan’s Bar and Grill. It’s not fancy, but it works, and well at that. Just on the next block is the ramen and dumpling house, Toki Underground.  Of course, expect late hours for both.

Medium Rare also opened up this week with its minimalist menu. Pay $19.50 and you’ll get a prix-fixe menu of rustic bread, a mixed greens salad and a Sirloin Steak with fries. The Cleveland Park restaurant comes to us from Mark Bucher of BGR The Burger Joint.

Coming!

Best Bites has some great news for meat lovers out there. To be exact, “a large, USDA-certified commissary for processing locally raised meat that will be sold on-location, to venues in the parent Neighborhood Restaurant Group, and eventually to a string of Red Apron butcheries in Maryland, Virginia, and the District.” What that mouthful means is that you will soon be able to get pastrami short ribs, summer sausage, smoked jowl rillettes, wild-boar salami, and more at a brick and mortar.

Winner

Mike Isabella of the coming up Graffiato took second place in Top Chef, edged out by Richard Blais.  So yet again, a Washingtonian makes it so far and doesn’t grab the title. That’s okay. Congraulations!

This weekend

It’s time for ARTINI 2011. You can read our drinks roundup here, here, and here. This Saturday mixologists from 12 of the city’s top venues will serve up artistic martinis inspired by works from the Corcoran Collection. If you wanted to go, but don’t have a ticket, you’re out of luck because the event is sold out. But I still can’t wait to find out who wins!

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Friday Happy Hour: ARTINI Edition – Week Three

Photo Credit: Daniel Swartz/REVAMP.COM Courtesy of Corcoran Gallery of Art

Once again, Friday Happy Hour takes a look at the Cocoran’s ARTINI 2011 Each of the twelve participating bars have a created a special cocktail inspired by works from the Cocoran’s collection which are on offer leading up to the April 2nd gala. Each bar gets one “feature night” when their creation is showcased and a portion of the proceeds is donated to the Corcoran – though the drink continues to be available the entire month.

Featured this week: Café Atlántico, Potenza, and Art and Soul.
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Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Friday Happy Hour: ARTINI Edition – Week Two

Photo credit: Daniel Swartz/REVAMP.COM Courtesy of Corcoran Gallery of Art

Once again, Friday Happy Hour takes a look at the Cocoran’s ARTINI 2011 Each of the twelve participating bars have a created a special cocktail inspired by works from the Cocoran’s collection which are on offer leading up to the April 2nd gala. Each bar gets one “feature night” when their creation is showcased and a portion of the proceeds is donated to the Corcoran – though the drink continues to be available the entire month.

Featured this week: Tabard Inn, PS7′s, and Church & State.
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Food and Drink, The Daily Feed

Friday Happy Hour: ARTINI Edition – Week One

Photo credit: Daniel Swartz/REVAMP.COM Courtesy of Corcoran Gallery of Art

As Jenn posted at the beginning of the week the Cocoran’s annual fundraiser ARTINI 2011 is underway. Each of the twelve participating bars have a created a special cocktail inspired by works from the Cocoran’s collection which are on offer leading up to the April 2nd gala.

Throughout March, each bar gets one “feature night” when their creation is showcased and a portion of the proceeds is donated to the Corcoran – though the drink continues to be available the entire month. Because the We Love DC drinks team loves both drinks and art, we are especially enthusiastic about this project and will be using the Friday Happy Hours to recap the “feature nights” of each week.

The Week One contestants (and there is a competition element to this, too, after all): SEI Restaurant|Lounge, Farmers & Fishers, and Mie N Yu.
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Food and Drink, Special Events, The Daily Feed

Get Ready for ARTINI!

Erik Holzherr's Absolution cocktail from ARTINI 2010. Photo credit: T. Silva.

Though the actual gala event is a month away, the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s annual mix of cocktails and art kicks-off this week. Yes, it’s time to get ready for ARTINI 2011, which combines two of my absolute favorite things in one glamorous night – Saturday, April 2 – when twelve of the top mixologists in the city will showcase their talents by crafting cocktails inspired by works of art in the Corcoran collection. I’m extremely honored to be one of the judges on the Critics Choice panel that night. Actually, honored is an understatement – I’m ridiculously excited, and can’t wait to share my wrap-up with you afterwards.

But you don’t have to wait until then to enjoy some beautiful works of liquid art! The entire month of March is dedicated to sampling these drinks, with weekly Feature Nights starting this week. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday the participating restaurants and bars will showcase their entries with 20% of the proceeds supporting the Corcoran’s exhibitions.

Our crack team of WLDC lushes – Bill, Brittany and Fedward – will attempt to report on as many of these drinks as possible throughout the month. Look for them at our weekly Friday Happy Hour! And join along in the voting sponsored by the Washingtonian.

Food and Drink, Special Events, The Features, We Love Drinks

Drinks Preview: ARTINI

Erik Holzherr of Wisdom's ARTINI. Photo credit: T. Silva. Courtesy of the Corcoran ARTINI 2010 Committee.

This Saturday the Corcoran Gallery of Art presents ARTINI, and if you’ve been waffling about attending I hear there are roughly less than 100 tickets still left, but going fast and not available at the door. So jump!

ARTINI is a fabulous event mixing two of my favorite things – art and cocktails. Twelve local mixologists have created drinks inspired by works in the current exhibit at Corcoran, A Love of Europe: Highlights from the William A. Clark Collection. Preview events featuring the submissions have been ongoing this month (I know, I know, I should’ve told you earlier, mea culpa, it’s been a crazy time lately). Tonight you can sample Art & Soul and tomorrow try out Rasika from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the respective restaurants. The Washingtonian is a co-sponsor and handles the voting, with the winning artini announced Saturday. The inspiration works will be on display that night as well.

The cocktail reception runs from 8pm to midnight, with $85 tickets for 1869 Society members and $100 for non-1869 Society members. That includes a cocktail bar, music by DJ Chris Nitti, and tours of both the Clark exhibit and Turner to Cezanne: Masterpieces from the Davies Collection. Proceeds support ArtReach, which provides free high-quality arts education programs to underserved communities in DC.

So many mixologists already take their inspiration from art. It’s a natural collaboration. Here’s a quick rundown of who’s on board and a few teasers to get you in the mood. Continue reading