The Carter Blog
Making Cocktails at the Carter
May 03, 2021
Cocktails at the Carter sounds like a simple premise: Drink craft cocktails and express yourself creatively while being inspired by artworks at your local art museum. But how does one do that during these virtual times? To accomplish one part of the hands-on creative evening, we worked with local, expert bartenders to make demonstration videos of cocktail recipes inspired by works in our collection!
On April 20, the Carter’s programming and video teams (socially distanced and masked up!) got to start their day at Tulips, a bar and music venue in the South Main area. We met with Tia Downey, Tulips’s beverage director, as she demonstrated how to make the “Arthur Dove Cocktail,” inspired by his painting The Lobster. In between takes, she told me that her original idea was to go “full lobster” with butter, lemon juice, and Old Bay Seasoning on the rim of the glass. Ultimately, Downey decided to create a cocktail using some of the fruits in the still-life that would complement a fresh lobster dinner, a beautiful view, and a warm spring breeze. A vacation in a glass if you ask me!
Our second stop was The Usual, a craft-cocktail bar on Magnolia Avenue. Managing partner Jason Pollard welcomed us into the popular haunt to show us how to make the “In the Night Garden Cocktail.” Inspired by Natasha Bowdoin’s artwork, Pollard noted that muddling a handful of basil leaves with his secret ingredient—rich simple syrup (made using two parts sugar to one part water)—means the drink will be sweet and a perfect lime-green color. The flavor and color of this gin-based concoction is a perfect complement to enjoying nature, just like Bowdoin’s immersive floral work at the Carter.
Our last stop was Proper, a contemporary cocktail bar also on Magnolia Avenue. Managing partner Lisa Little-Adams showed us how to make her drink inspired by Ruth Asawa’s Untitled sculpture. Her cocktail requires a little homework: infusing whiskey with dried mango and thyme 24 hours before you’re ready to imbibe. This infusion gives a subtle, summery feeling to the cocktail. While making this drink, we like to think about the thousands of circular wire loops making up Asawa’s abstract, spherical sculpture as we stir the whiskey and honey before topping off with prosecco.
During each of these Cocktails at the Carter events, we’ll also be working with our Carter Community Artists, who will demonstrate how to do a lowkey art project inspired by the three featured artworks.
Sign up for a cocktail and art-making kit, provided free to the first 50 registrants each week (alcohol and some fresh ingredients are not included in the kits). If you miss out on the kits, most of the cocktail ingredients and art-making supplies you may have at home. And don’t worry, once the programs pass, we’ll upload a recording of the cocktail and art-making demonstrations to this blog post so you can kick back, take a sip, and relax while getting creative any time!