Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Art on the Rocks 2011: Photos and Winners

Last week, The Art League hosted Art on the Rocks, challenging six bartenders from local restaurants to create original drinks inspired by works in The Art League Gallery. The six bartenders went all-out to create memorable cocktails — five liquid, one solid — and their work paid off, and made voting for the winner that much more difficult. As attendee Bradley Austin put it after trying two drinks, they were “just weird enough.”

“You want to have something interesting and different,” he said.




Trae from Chadwicks, last year's winning mixologist, serves up his new mixed drink.
Chris Kirby from Austin Grill concocted the Green Glacier, featuring triple sec, gin, vodka, rum, Sprite, and Midori, a melon liqueur. Chris said the creation was a group effort, and that the restaurant wanted the drink to look — and taste — green, to match its inspiration, a photograph of the Aurora Borealis by Richard Mallory Allnutt.

Attendee Jessica Pitts said she found the Green Glacier very summery — “perfect for a tailgate.”

Chris Kirby, right, from Austin Grill, brought his Green Glacier.

Steve Warner of Columbia Firehouse tops his White Russian Marshmallows.
Steve Warner of Columbia Firehouse said he chose Equipoise by Joyce McCarten because he has always gravitated toward texture. His cocktail was also “a textural exercise” — a Kahlua-laced marshmallow topped with Kahlua sauce, vodka foam and raspberry powder. Steve said the painting’s play with relief and texture inspired him to take something liquid and make it solid.

Tim from Hank's Oyster Bar makes apple twists.
Voting was no easy matter.
Lee Carrell of Hank’s Oyster Bar said of his inspiration, Posed by Michele Hoben, that when he first saw it, “it reminded me of a candle freshly blown out.” He wanted to capture his smoky, sultry impression in his cocktail, which incorporates a spritz of mezcal in the glass — it causes the drink to evolve as it’s experienced, like a work of art, Lee said.

People must have liked what they experienced, because at the end of the night, they voted Hank’s one of two winners in a nail-biting tie. Justin of the Light Horse Restaurant, who demoed his Summertime Anytime cocktail for us, was the other winner. (Their acceptance speeches are on our YouTube page.)

Holly Nunn tasted Justin's melon-based creation and decided that, in addition to the great blend of fruits, the mascarpone rim grounded the drink. Michelle Lore and Cindy Lamons struggled to decide between Lee’s cocktail at the Hank’s table and the basil-topped Wren at RedRocks Pizza Napoletana. The deciding factor tipping them in Lee’s favor, they said, was the thought he put into drawing inspiration from the painting and crafting a complex drink.

Justin and Lee will each get a trophy — and bragging rights, until next year.

More photos after the jump:


The trophy, created by Alison Sigethy.
Winning bartender Justin's drink, Summertime Anytime, featured mascarpone rims.
Winner Justin from the Light Horse Restaurant.
Winner Lee from Hank's Oyster Bar.
Frank from RedRocks Pizza Napoletana.




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