Back in January I created this poster for a production of Rabbit Hole. The Pulitzer Prize-winning play deals with a family that has recently lost their young boy in tragic accident and how they cope with their grief. A beautiful and heartbreaking piece.
The director, Eric Butler, had the concept of the photograph of the happy family between the grieving couple. The photographer, Paul Bobkowski, took a number of pictures for both settings, with me to the side saying, “look this way,” “look that way,” “look at her,” etc. Really, it was to find the right pose for the final poster.
When I received the photos, though, there were several that I liked, and they were all so similar, that it occurred to me that I could use multiple photos to multiple effect: to show the deterioration and inner thoughts of the couple, and to demonstrate a sci-fi concept discussed in the play where there exist multiple parallels of our world with sometimes slight and sometimes major differences (your basic multiverse set-up, and the reason for the shows title, where you could fall through a rabbit hole into another, better world).
Moving forward with that, I created a more ethereal feel for “reality” and a more saturated and warmer feel for the photograph itself. The multiple photographs also suggested the repeat of the title, which allowed for a nice and natural separation of all the credits and tagline.
I rarely get to work with photographs in my posters, due often to the fact that a) I am not a photographer, and b) the posters usually come before there are costumes and sometimes a cast. This was a fun change for me, and I was really pleased with the result.
Before the next batch of cocktails for shows, I thought I would present a couple of the posters for shows I created earlier this year. First was for the classic Cole Porter musical Kiss Me, Kate.
In Kiss Me, Kate, there is a show within a show, as performers present a musical adaption of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, so I wanted to be able to represent that love-hate duality present in both Shrew as well as Kiss Me, Kate. The costumes themselves are obviously there to help evoke an Elizabethan drama, the footlights and spotlight to show a theatrical setting.
Once again I went with silhouettes, which I recognize as a bit of a crutch, but when these posters are completed often before casting (or any photography of cast) and people should be represented, I find it is the best way to accomplish that. Plus, in this instance, the overlaying images are much easier to read, I feel, as solid shapes without details.
The fonts and colors were chosen for a 1940′s theatrical poster feel. The harlequin diamond texture in the background was included as a nod to the original Kiss Me, Kate art, and provides a bit of visual interest through texture, while also evoking old theater.
Finally, to make it seem like vintage poster art from that particular era of the show (the 40′s) I aged the final piece with some texture and filters.
It’s been a while since I participated in Mixology Monday, but with my next block of cocktails re-presenting drinks I made for The Wild Party nearly two years ago, one of which was a non-alcoholic offering for one of my castmates, my drinks to catalog coincided perfectly with the theme for this month, Temperance. As presented by Scott at Shake, Strain & Sip:
While many of us today think of overly sweet and unimaginative uses of fruit juice combinations when we hear of nonalcoholic beverages, there is a growing resurgence and movement of creating real craft “mocktails” in cocktail bars around the world… As such, this month’s theme challenges you to create unique craft “mocktails” only limited by your imagination. Perhaps you have an abundance of that homemade lavender syrup sitting in your fridge? Maybe you’ve been thinking about creating a non-alcoholic version of your favorite cocktail. Or maybe you just wanted an excuse to mix up an Angostura Phosphate you saw in Imbibe. Oh yes, non-potable bitters are fair game here since they are legally classified as nonalcoholic in the states. However, if the Teetotalist inside of you won’t allow it, you can go without them. Cheers!
When I worked on The Wild Party menu (drinks to follow), a non-drinking castmate asked if I might prepare something for special for her. I did, and I named it for for her.
- 2.0 oz. orange juice
- 1.0 oz. lime juice
- 1.0 oz. Orgeat
- 4 dashes Fee’s Aztec Chocolate bitters
- 4 dashes Fee’s Old Fashioned Aromatic bitters
- 4 dashes Ponzu
Shake with ice, then strain into old fashioned over ice, topping with 2-4 oz. club soda.
So I generally get fairly positive reactions when I mix my drinks for my friends. Occasionally they might be too strong, and at times they aren’t to the taste of everyone, but for the most part I’ll get a thumbs up (and they’re not always sparing my feelings!). With this drink, though, I received more praise than I had for any other drink I mixed at that party, and I had requests for it all night by drinkers and non-drinkers alike. I like it particularly for the saltiness that comes from the Ponzu in combination with the tart of the lime. The bitters along with the sweet orgeat introduce some exotic undertones that help to relieve the drink of its simple fruit juice mix origins.
Top with as much club soda as you need to lighten up the resulting mixture, which is yummy, but thick — not in a viscous way, but rather in concentrated flavor. It also helps to extend the life of the drink, which, for me, disappears pretty quickly. Case in point: after the picture you see above was taken, the drink was downed before I even made it back to the kitchen. Ah well. I’ll just have to mix another.
- 2.0 oz. Cognac
- 0.5 oz. Pavan
- 0.5 oz. orange blossom honey syrup*
- 2 dashes orange flower water
- 2 dashes orange bitters
Stir with ice. Strain into a snifter.
* 1:1 water and orange blossom honey, reduced by half
For the final cocktail in The Secret Garden series, I grabbed another floral liqueur I had on the shelf, Pavan, which consists, among other things, of orange blossom essence. I’ve always liked orange with brandy, so I went with a Cognac base. That alone with the Pavan didn’t have the depth of sweetness I would have liked, so I thought a rich honey syrup would help with that (and in keeping with the orange blossom theme). The drink at this point was pretty sweet, so I added some orange bitters in there. The orange flower water is probably a bit unnecessary — I couldn’t detect it in the final drink — but I kept it in the recipe nonetheless.
The name is not the genus of flowering plant, as in the other drinks in this series, as the flower is actually the blossom of the orange tree, and naming the drink “Citrus” (the orange tree genus) just didn’t sit right. In looking for a picture of “orange blossom,” though, I was faced with several images of a My Little Pony, which really gives a whole different twist to the drink. Still, Orange Blossom it was, and the garden was complete.
And if anyone ever casts me in a My Little Pony stage musical, I am already one drink ahead.
- 1.5 oz. Mezcal
- 0.5 oz. Tempus Fugit Liqueur de Violettes
- 0.5 oz. Creme Yvette
- 0.25 oz. lime juice
Shake with ice. Strain into a coupe and garnish with a dash of pink Himalayan salt.
I don’t think I’ve ever made a mezcal-based drink before. I’ve certainly used it in drinks, but mostly to pair with tequila as a secondary flavor. Here, it is the main event, which is interesting since I had originally thought I’d have to go with something a little more delicate to not overpower the violet flavor.
As it turned out, mezcal worked out great. The floral sweetness comes from two different types of violet-based liqueur (can you believe I have two others as well?), one much more — for lack of a better word — soapy than the other. One is fairly fragrant, the other a little sweeter. Together, they balanced the mezcal’s funkiness, with a just a bit of acidic lime to add a tart note.
The final touch is a pinch of pink salt that floats on top, deepening the flavor on the sip. I love salt in drinks (well, let’s face it, I just love salt) and I always seem to have to remember that fact.
Maybe it’s all the drinking.
- 1.5 oz. Elderflower Rum
- 0.75 oz. Aperol
- 0.25 oz. St. Germaine
- 0.25 oz. lemon juice
Shake with ice. Strain into a coupe and garnish with lemon twist.
When you think floral cocktails, chances are you will think St. Germaine. The genus of the elderflower is sambucus, so that’s the name of the drink here. I started with a rum infused with elderflower, itself sweetened, so then only added a little dash of St. Germaine, which opened up the floral flavor a little more. The Aperol is there for some bitterness (and always makes a lovely color) and the lemon juice for acid. I love lemon and Aperol as a combination — one of the few times I enjoy lemon in a drink.
It is curious to me that of all the floral flavors, elderflower is the one with the most available ingredients I found — St. Germaine, an elderflower rum, an elderflower gin, two other liqueurs (and an elderberry cordial, though I guess that doesn’t count). I had never even heard of elderflower before St. Germaine. Just shows you what one popular product can open up. Almost makes you want to go out and start sampling the rest of the garden. Almost.
- 1.5 oz. Silver Tequila
- 1.0 oz. Fruitlab Hibiscus liqueur
- 0.5 oz. Lillet Blanc
- 1 edible hibiscus flower
Stir all but flower with ice. Strain into a coupe and garnish with flower.
I’ve had these edible flowers sitting on my bar for the longest time and never really knew what to do with them. This finally seemed like the perfect opportunity.
The tequila married really nicely with the hibiscus liqueur to my taste. A little sweet, though, so I added a nice kick of bitterness from the Lillet. That’s really all that was needed here. The flower sits at the bottom of the drink and offers a nice final treat after sipping.
And I can finally get rid of those flowers.
- 1.5 oz. Cocchi Americano
- 1.0 oz. Courvoisier Rosé liqueur
- 2.0 oz. Cuvée Rosé
- 5 drops rose water
Stir Cocchi and Courvoisier with ice. Strain into cocktail glass. Top with rosé and garnish with five drops of rose water.
For The Secret Garden, I decided on a collection of floral drinks. No, it’s nothing much to do with the show, but having a drink based around cholera or melancholy (melancholera?) didn’t seem very appealing. Although not all of the flowers are necessarily something you’d find in an English garden, I started with one that was not only a flower mentioned in the show, but was also one of the characters, Rose, or, using its genus name, Rosa.
This one was all about the nose. Originally, I was going to make it champagne-based with a rose liqueur that I had on hand. That liqueur ran out before I could perfect the drink, though, and in trying to restock I found the liqueur was no longer available. Enter the Courvoiser Rosé, and building off of that I found a sparkling rosé to replace the champagne. The Cocchi adds a little more sweetness and a necessary bitter component. The final drops of rose water are really what bring the fragrance of roses to the drink.
I suppose I should represent the thorns, not only for the flower, but also for the character. Let’s just focus on the lovelier aspects, though. If you really want to, have a chaser of absinthe. That’ll get ya.
Just a preliminary post for a collection of cocktails I will be presenting next week in honor of my production of The Secret Garden, a musical opening on Friday with the New Players Theatre Guild in Fitchburg, Mass. This 1991 Tony-award winner is based on the classic children’s book by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and I get to walk around with a crooked back for two and a half hours. Drinks will be necessary.
The 39 Steps Cocktail
- 1.0 oz. Canadian whisky
- 1.0 oz. London Dry Gin
- 1.0 oz. Edel Kirsch Cherry Liqueur
- 1 barspoon lime juice
- 2 dashes Boker’s bitters
Stir with ice. Strain into coupe coated with peaty Scotch.
Canadian whisky for Hannay in London, thus the addition of gin. The Professor and his nefarious alter ego lends the German liqueur. And of course the Scotch for the setting, which is also interesting since the nose doesn’t really match the taste and so I think lends itself to the deception explored in the movie. And of course in the play, which prompted this entire series of Hitchcocktails.
And with that, I bid you: