News & Politics

A Night Out: The Second Annual Artini Gala

What: Second annual Artini gala.
Where: Corcoran Gallery of Art.
When: Saturday, March 28, 8 PM to midnight.
Ticket Price: $80 (1869 Society Members) to $150 (included admission to VIP after party and tickets for raffle prizes).

A sold-out crowd of 725 guests sipped, danced, and mingled at the second annual Artini gala at the Corcoran Gallery of Art on Saturday night. It was the culmination of a month-long competition among 12 Washington bars to see who could create the most artistic martini, each inspired by a painting at the gallery. Guests also had a chance to view the Maya Lin exhibit, a massive display of mixed-media art, including one installation made of more than 50,000 two-by-fours forming a crazy hill-like shape and taking up an entire room.

What they did: Guests paid to sip the 12 artinis, nibble on a buffet of miniature pizza bites, hummus, sliders, cups of petite fries, and chocolates from Ridgewells catering and dance to the sounds of DJ Heather Femia. Upstairs, partygoers could sample artisanal brews and tastings of absinthe and red and white wine.

Photographs by Chris Leaman. Want to see more photos from Washington events and parties? Click here for's photo slideshow page.

Who swept the competition: Erik Holzherr of Wisdom was crowned the winner, although cocktails from PS7’s (a concoction of tequila, lemon, and Cointreau garnished with strawberry hearts), Mie N Yu (a banana daiquiri with gummy octopus and blue sugar on the rim), and Bourbon (a rum-based mix served in a re-sealed Capri Sun packet) were strong favorites as well.

The fashion scoop: The majority of the crowd took the “spring cocktail” dress code to heart, and showcased a blend of arty style that was refreshing.

Most women sported chic short dresses, often in bright colors. A few stood out in a good way: one woman sported a belted pink floral dress by Robert Rodriguez and another who paired a simple black tank with a multi-tiered pink skirt. Event coordinator Megan Harmon had an artful statement as well: a hot-pink Betsey Johnson dress was accented with glittering Chuck Taylors. “I knew I’d be running around all night,” she explained.

Men took fashion risks too, donning sleek shirts—one had adorable martini-and-shaker cufflinks in honor of the occasion—bow ties, and artful glasses, looking either well-dressed or hipster-chic.

The wrap up: Unlike last year’s event, lines at martini stations were of manageable length, and food stations at both ends of the ballroom kept guests evenly dispersed. Drinks flowed smoothly, and by the end of the event only a few of the 12 stations had run dry.

A select group of VIP partygoers continued the revelry long into the night at the after-hours location, Urbana, one of the participating restaurants.

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