Archive for November 2012

Cocktails in the Park with George

Scene from Sunday in the Park with George at Vokes Theater, Wayland, MA
The last production I was fortunate to be a part of was Sunday in the Park with George at Vokes Theater in Wayland, MA (that’s me with the beard in the lower right setting up the monkey). This James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim Pulitzer Prize-winning musical tells a mostly fictional account of the nineteenth century artist Georges Seurat’s time spent sketching for and painting his famous A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grande Jatte, his failure to connect with those around him during this process (and during his short life), and his (totally fictional) great-grandson’s resolution of art and relationships 100 years later. In a nutshell. Oh, and I got to sing as a couple of dogs.

When I first began to consider drinks I might make inspired by the show, I looked at the mantra Georges repeated throughout the show, his list of attributes that contributed to the creation of his art: order, composition, balance, light, harmony (among others). However, these proved too abstract for me (maybe a pousse cafe for order? an equal parts drink for balance?) so instead I turned to the eleven colors Seurat used in his first phase of the painting (there were three phases, I guess, with the second one in which he added the monkey and the third when he painted a pointilistic border around the painting; both phases added to the number of colors used, but I only have so much liquor).

There is a line in the show where Georges states, “Eleven colors, no black. Not mixed on the palette, but mixed by the eye.” Lovely. And false, really. Seurat used these colors, yes, but he did mix them freely on the palette before applying them the canvas. Ah well, artistic license.

But I did have eleven distinct colors (or so I thought until I had to make minor blue and yellow variations, but we’ll get to that…). My decision then was to create a set of drinks based on colors, where the spirits and mixers involved did not contribute to any story behind the drink other than the pigment they provided. I thought it was an interesting challenge with a lot of potential for flavor combinations unencumbered by theme (again, until I got to those damn blue drinks…).

For reference, the colors Seurat used were:

  • Vermilion
  • Organic Red Lake
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Iron Oxide Yellow
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Chrome Yellow
  • Viridian
  • Emerald Green
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Lead White

As I am writing this post after the completion of the full set, I can tantalize you with the image of all together before I break each one down individually.

Sunday in the Park with George Cocktails

As Georges is written to say, “Can’t you see the shimmering!”

The Alchemist

Ralph Steadman's The Alchemist over my home bar.

Above my home bar I have a framed print of The Alchemist by Ralph Steadman (you might have seen his work illustrating Hunter S. Thompson). This is a bit of a happy accident as I bought the print before I was into cocktails and had it hanging before I had the bar set up. I have a bar set up not because I set out to do so, but because my small collection of bottles in the pantry multiplied and wore out their welcome from my wife, who doesn’t drink and therefore does not contribute to finishing off bottles. I began buying bottles of spirits and mixers in the first place to replace the wine I was consuming, since I thought at the time (hilariously so, now in retrospect) that it would be cheaper.

But back to the alchemist. I love his tinkering. I love his collection of assorted ingredients and tools he has lining the walls. I love his anticipation of what effect dropping the mouse in might have on his potion (I have never used mice. Probably never will.). I love that this sits over my bar. It belongs there.

Does this site belong, though? I do not intend to blog. I do not intend to write any recipe book reviews or discuss bars I have visited or drinks I have consumed, as excellent as they may be. This might be the most personal post I ever write, as I do not intend this as any sort of life journal. I have tried blogs before and have found that is not me.

What I have found in the last year, though, is that I am making up my own concoctions more and more and desired any easy way to record these and share them with those who might be interested. Generally, my drinks have been thematically tied to a show I am performing in (and promoting through alcoholic beverage). Sometimes I have just picked up an interesting ingredient and am trying to make it work. For all of it, though, I am doing it just for fun.

I am not a bartender, nor do I have such aspirations. I am not a mixologist, and shrink a bit at that term. I am not an expert by any means, and still learn so much as I go to different bars and read different manuals or attend events. I know just enough to be dangerous, as they say. I am an enthusiast (a dangerous one, I guess), and I like mixed drinks.

So, I will dutifully record what I do, mostly cocktails, but sometimes some other creative production like posters I create for shows. If you are interested, check it out from time to time, and let me know what you think. After all, where else might you find a drink inspired by a musicalized American assassin, or based on a paint pigment used in a nineteenth century neoimpressionistic painting?

And who knows, I might get around to using a mouse.