News & Politics

Artini Rewind: What You Missed

Six-inch stilettos, Slim Jim cocktail garnishes, and good drinking—all in the name of fine art

The Corcoran's Kristin Guiter smiles with Top Chef contender—and Artini judge—Mike Isabella.

>> See more pictures from Artini 2011 

The drinks are strong, the lines are long, and fashion takes a surprising turn for the fierce. This year’s Artini event at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, which took place Saturday night, challenged 12 area bartenders to create a beverage experience worthy of the artworks—all currently hanging in the museum—that inspired it. A list of participating restaurants and the cocktails they created follows after the jump.

The Fall of Grace
Vodka, St. Germain, creme de violette, lemon and lime juice, rose tincture, stellina di notte prosecco

Art and Soul
Coleman's Juice
Whiskey, mezcal, yuzu-agave syrup, rhubarb bitters, house-made vanilla cola

Café Atlántico

Daisy If You Do . . .
Leather-infused blanco tequila, rye-infused St. Germain, lemon juice, lagavulin 16, soda water and lemon peel

Church & State
B Cup
Vodka, Cointreau, house-made dry vermouth, apple juice, bar keep bitters, bison grass

Farmers & Fishers
Harold and Maude
Remy Martin VSOP, rum, lemon juice, fresh squeezed orange juice, toasted almond syrup

The Gibson
Bonfire Shelter
Famous Grouse, bison-grass-infused rye, Royal Bombier liquer, scotch, green chartreuse, prairie essence

Mie N Yu

Fifth Ave., NYC Punch
Remy Martin, Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Sublime, apple ginger liquor, house-made steeped lavender, lemon peel, apple-spiced ice

Silver Tequila, Montanegro Amaro, lemon juice, spiced cactus drip, pineapple gomme syrup, Prickly Pear Cactus Suds with honey and fleur de salt, cactus gelee

Between the Lines
Vodka, Cointreau Noir, lemon juice, egg whites, cherry shrub, blueberry shrub, pineapple shrub, mint shrub, lemon shrub

POV at the W Hotel
Joan's Palate
Vodka, gin, Pummelo grapefruit juice, Pummelo syrup, lime juice, bitters, lava salt, Pummelo grapefruit peel

Fenêtre de Cancale (Window of Cancale)
Vodka infused with lemongrass, rum, Remy Martin VSOP infused with white peach, simple syrup, lemon juice, absinthe coconut water air, lemon peel

Tabard Inn
Sea Legs Daquiri
Mount Gay Silver, fresh lime juice, cane syrup, crème de Violette, sea salt, Ponche Kuba warm whip

In a new twist on the event, a Critic’s Choice panel—including local Top Chef contender Mike Isabella, with whom nearly everyone stopped for a picture, PX master bartender Todd Thrasher, and The Washingtonian’s Sophie Gilbert—met just before the party to crown one mixologist the winner of the evening. They selected Art and Soul’s Robert Flores for his Coleman Juice, a concoction with mezcal, whiskey, and rhubarb bitters garnished with a house-made Slim Jim. It was the same drink, as it turned out, that was selected as the reader favorite in’s online poll.

Because this is one of the few fetes in Washington where more creative dress comes standard, we must pause here to recognize the fashion. Ladies, you killed it in those cocktail dresses. Props to Lesley Benn for her fur-covered stilettos and the ever-gracious Kristin Guiter, the Corcoran’s public-relations director, for her vintage (we assume) butterfly top and leather miniskirt. The showstopping Aureta Thomollari was unusually demure in blunt bangs and a long-sleeved retro cocktail dress and fur wrap. Gents, you cleaned up nicely as well—if there was a pair of khakis in the house, we didn’t see them. 

As is the case with nearly every party that has a guest list of more than ten, drinks ran out far earlier than everyone expected. Whether this was the result of poor planning or the event’s excessive popularity is anyone’s guess, but we clocked Café Atlántico folding first at 9:53 (not even 90 minutes into the night!), and Againn closed up shop just minutes later. By 10:30, almost the entire party had migrated to the far less exciting beer-and-wine bar upstairs. Grumbles (both on Twitter and in person) could be heard here and there about the ratio of dollars paid to craft cocktails consumed, but most people were content to down Peronis and book it back down to the dance floor.

POV Bartender Joe Ambrose makes the Joan’s Palette cocktail
Church & State bartender Josh Berner makes the B Cup cocktail
Mie N Yu’s Robert Tinney makes Fifth Avenue Punch

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Sarah is the Editor-in-Chief of Washingtonian Bride & Groom, and writes about weddings, fashion, and shopping. Her work has also appeared in Refinery29, Bethesda Magazine, and Washington City Paper, among others. She is a Georgetown University graduate, lives in Columbia Heights, and you can find her on Instagram at @washbridegroom and @sarahzlot.