Artini is a monthlong competition among 12 of the area’s top mixologists to create the most artistic martini. This year, the source of inspiration for the cocktails is the Corcoran’s current exhibit “A Love of Europe: Highlights From the William A. Clark Collection.” Every Tuesday through Thursday through March 31, one competing cocktail will be featured for tasting at different venues from 6:30 to 8:30. Here at After Hours, we’ll be showcasing some of the cocktails. For more information about Artini, the featured nights, or to vote for your favorite bartender, go to washingtonian.com/artini.
The New York Times has called French painter Edgar Degas an artist “constantly pulled between aesthetic extremes” whose internal struggle is most apparent when studying the images of women he often depicted. Fittingly, when creating her competing cocktail, Chantal Tseng of the Tabard Inn looked at Degas’s Two Women as something more than a straightforward portrait—she saw it as a study of contrasts.
“I see the two women as being part of the same individual,” she says. “In love one moment and then forlorn in the next.”
To emulate the contrasts in the painting, Tseng has crafted a drink that combines sweet and sour elements, using house-made blood-orange soda and Rémy Martin V.S.O.P., an aged Cognac (to attain V.S.O.P. designation—which stands for Very Special Old Pale—the Cognac must be aged in a cask for at least four years), which she infused with rose hips and vanilla ice cream. Combined, these elements result in the Loves Me, Loves Me Not, a pleasantly smooth cocktail with just the right amount of zest. The drink is then garnished with cornflowers, which are meant to evoke the colors in Degas' painting. Watch Tseng demonstrate how to make the Loves Me, Loves Me Not ($12) in the video above, and stop by the Tabard Inn Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 to sample the cocktail. Bonus: the drink is served with house-made absinthe-flavored meringues.
Loves Me, Loves Me Not
Chantal Tseng, Tabard Inn
2 ounces Rémy V.S.O.P. Cognac infused with rose hips and vanilla ice cream*
3 to 4 ounces house-made blood-orange soda**
4 to 5 cornflowers (you can purchase them in small packs online at mountainroseherbs.com)
Add ice to a highball glass, and pour in the infused Rémy V.S.O.P. Fill the glass with siphoned blood-orange soda. Spoon the cornflowers over the top, and add a blood-orange slice as garnish.
* To infuse Rémy V.S.O.P, add ¼ cup dried rose hips and ½ cup vanilla ice cream to a bottle of the Cognac. Refrigerate for two days. This process works best if you use a Mason jar or some other sealable container. Use a cheesecloth and a strainer to double strain milk solids and rose hips. The result should be a milky liquid. Refrigerate when not in use.
** To make the blood-orange soda, squeeze fresh juice from about 15 blood oranges, then add ½ cup cane sugar. Brew 2 cups blood-orange tea (Tseng uses Adagio’s blend of dried blood-orange peel, rose hips, and hibiscus) and let cool. Add the tea to the sweetened blood-orange juice and mix. Fill a soda siphon ¾ full and charge.
For more Buzzed cocktail demonstrations, click here.