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.

This year’s twelve participants and their inspiration pieces are (deep breath in!):

Vannara Amnathvong, J&G Steakhouse (Charles Daubigny’s Sunset on the River); Jon Arroyo, Farmers & Fishers (Jean Forain’s The Proof); Gina Chersevani, PS7’s Restaurant (Edgar Degas’ The Dance Class);

Gina Chersevani's ARTINI. Photo credit: Gina Chersevani. Courtesy of the Corcoran ARTINI 2010 Committee.

Ronald Flores, Art and Soul (Jean-François Raffaëlli’s The Boulevard); Justin Guthrie, POV at the W Hotel (Henri Fantin-Latour’s Arcadia, Women Bathing); Erik Holzherr, Wisdom (Pascal Adolphe Dagnan-Bouveret’s After Church in the Fields);

– Let’s pause to talk to Erik (last year’s winner, not to mention gracious host of our recent WLDC drinks event. ok, so maybe we’re biased!) about his process for creating his artini Absolution, to give you a taste of what goes into crafting one.

His inspiration work by Dagnan-Bouveret potrays a religious pilgrimage through the French countryside, so Erik’s goal was “to craft a cocktail that tasted like wine – due to strong historic ties of wine and religion.”

Being a gin fan, he used Plymouth Gin, Yellow Chartreuse (which also has a religious background being made by by Carthusian Monks in the French Alps… “only 3 brothers have the portions of the recipe that combine to make the actual formaula and they are sworn to vows of silence”). In addition there’s Vermouth Dubonnet Blanc and fresh pressed apple, “since the region in france where the pilgrimage takes place is known for an alcoholic cider”. He’s also misted Cointreau over the top and topped it off with a garnish of “brandied grape” soaked in Green Chartreuse. “The drink could easily be confused for a complex, dry white wine with many interesting yet subtle notes… but with much greater alcoholic strength. It is clean, very aproachable and soothing… it helped me to see god. Joke!”

It never ceases to amaze me, the care and thought that goes into a brilliant cocktail. Moving on…

Chris Kelley, Mie N Yu Restaurant (after Bernard Palissy, Rustic Plate with Alligator, Snake, and Lizard); Arris Noble, SEI Restaurant & Lounge (Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot’s Repose); Tiffany Short, The Gibson (Auguste Rodin’s Eve);

Tiffany Short of The Gibson's ARTINI. Photo credit: Sam Vasfi. Courtesy of the Corcoran ARTINI 2010 Committee.

Jason Strich, Rasika Restaurant (Joseph Mallord Turner’s Boats Carrying Out Anchors to the Dutch Men of War); Owen Thomson, Bourbon (Jean Cazin’s The Great Windmill and the Rainbow); Chantal Tseng, Tabard Inn Restaurant (Edgar Degas’ Two Women).

We’ve previously learned how Chantal’s art background serves her well in crafting drinks. For her artini, she says she saw the painting of two women by Degas “as a study of contrasts with a focus on feeling in love one moment & out of love the next: a theme that made me think of old french music, sweet & sour, forget-me-nots, daisies… & of course… absinthe.”

I can even taste it through that description, so simple and evocative.

I’m so sad to miss this event (but I don’t bail on a friend’s wedding, not even for you, dear reader) – so I hope you’re inspired to get your ticket! And if you’ve attended any of the previews already, please let us know what you sampled and what you thought in the comments.

As one of the founding editors of We Love DC, Jenn’s passions are theater and cocktails. After two decades in the city, she’s loved every quirky, mundane, elegant, rude minute of her DC life. A proud advocate for DC’s talented drinks scene, she’s judged the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s ARTINI contest, the DC Rickey Month contest, the Jefferson Hotel’s Quill Cocktail competition, and is a founding member of LUPEC DC. A graduate of Catholic University’s drama program, she toured the country as a member of National Players, and has been both an actor and a costume designer before jumping the aisle to theater criticism. Writing for We Love DC restored her happiness after a life-threatening illness, and she’s grateful to you, dear readers. Send your suggestions to jenn (at) welovedc (dot) com and follow her on Twitter.

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