By Fran Holuba
ALEXANDRIA, VA. - ARTini season is quickly becoming one of DC’s most beloved annual traditions and this year the contestants truly delivered.
For weeks now, dedicated ARTini goers have traipsed around Washington to 11 citywide venues for ARTini Feature nights.
Participating venues included Ardeo + Bardeo, Art and Soul, El Centro D.F., Founding Farmers, The Gibson, Jack Rose, Oyamel, POV at the W Hotel, The Passenger, Smith Commons, and Tabard Inn.
Mixologists were asked to design an original cocktail based on one work of art from the Corcoran Gallery’s collection.
Last weekend, in a sold out event which saw 750 anxious imbibers, the mixologists rattled their jiggers and shaking tins to compete for Washington DC’s most inspired cocktail.
Patrons donned creative cocktail attire and danced among the columns and a backdrop of playful lighting while sipping, slurping and downright chugging the delicious creations.
Favorites included Jack Rose Dining Saloon’s Rachel Sergi, who whipped up “The Threshold,” a refreshing tequila based pink libation topped with a tasty honey air. Oyamel's Joe Cleveland also picked pink with some molecular magic in his drink “Alegria,” which featured a solid form of the cocktail to be eaten like a lime wedge.
In the weeks preceding the ARTINI gala, fans were asked to log on to Washingtonian.com to vote for their favorite drink. Winner of that online vote went to Ronald Flores of Art& Soul for his Mount Gay Silver Eclipse Rum and Rooibos herbal tea drink, “Zeitgeist” which was inspired by Aaron Douglas’s Into Bondage (1936, oil on canvas).
The panel of five local judges announced Joseph Ambrose of the POV Lounge at the W Hotel as the night’s unanimous winner for ‘Critics’ Choice’ award.
“Theo’s Flower” is based on Terry Winters’ piece Theophrastus Garden 2 (1982, oil on linen.) The dark, abstract painting gave Joe inspiration in both color and theme. “I used seasonal ingredients to best portray the dark hues of red and some of the lighter colors from Winters' painting," said Joe, in explaining his inspiration. "The bottom portion of the drink represents the reddish ground in the painting or the earth. I used dark sugar and blood orange for this portion of the drink, combined with gin and vodka, moro oil, and bitters. The tart white foam top mixes with the sweet drink, balancing out the ingredients in the taster's mouth.”
The painting’s namesake, Theophrastus, was a pupil and successor of Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle and is considered the “father of botany” for his surviving extensive treatises on plants and flowers. As homage to the late great botanist, Joe candied fresh edible pansies to float daintily across the lemon foam.
1.5oz 42 Below Vodka
0.5 oz Plymouth Gin
0.5 oz St.Germain
0.75 oz Brown Simple Syrup
0.75 oz Moro Orange Juice Bitters
Oil from a 3.5 gm Moro orange peel
Garnish: Crystallized Edible Flowers(Candied)
Glassware: Martini Glass
- Combine all ingredients except for foam, in a mixing tin. Shake contents with ice, then strain into a frosted martini glass.
- Top the drink off with lemon foam from a nitrous charged ISI, garnish with edible flowers.
ARTINI gala proceeds will be used to support the Corcoran Gallery’s Arts Education Program, ArtReach, which is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary this year.
Testament to the great participation from the mixologists and subsequent turnout, the event raised an impressive $50,000 for ArtReach.