Artini was an amazing event, combining some of my favorite things: late 19th century European art, martinis, dancing and best friends. (As I’ve mentioned) two of my dearest friends from college were visiting, and we were all very excited to dress-up like the good old days of sorority cocktails and formals. The boyfriend and some of my other favorite people were also in attendance. (Check out a photo of us on the Washingtonian Web site: here).
Background: 12 mixologists from some of D.C.’s best restaurants were tasked with creating a martini based on a specific work of art from The Corcoran Gallery of Art’s permanent collection, featured in the exhibition: A Love of Europe: Highlights from the William A. Clark Collection.
The participating restaurants were: Art and Soul, Bourbon, Farmers & Fishers, The Gibson, J & G Steakhouse, Mie N Yu, POV at the W Hotel, PS7’s Restaurant, Rasika, SEI Restaurant, Tabbard Inn, and Wisdom. (For more information, check out the Washingtonian’s feature or the Artini Web site.) The overall winner was the POV at the W Hotel’s “The Number 9”, inspired by Arcadia, Women Bathing, which featured cinnamon-infused Absolut Vodka and house-made ginger-lemon soda.
Among our group the favorite was Sei’s martini, inspired by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot’s Repose (1860).
The Sei martini was the boldest martini, with a very strong “spicy” cinammon taste, topped with an edible flower.
By far the most creative (and the girly-girl favorite) was PS7’s “First Position,” inspired by The Dance Class by Degas.
“First Position” was made with Plymouth gin, fresh lemon juice, lavender syrup, and Verbena tea, and topped with Absinthe cotton candy.
My personal favorite was the Tabbard Inn’s Two Women, inspired by another Degas painting by that name.
In my humble opinion, the Tabbard Inn’s drink was the prettiest and most unique, topped with lavender flowers and blood oranges, and complemented by meringues.
The ambiance at Artini was perfect. The lighting? Not too bright, not too dark, just right. The hors d’oeuvres? Creative and delicious: three types of popcorn (truffle, cayenne and butter), mini hot dogs and sliders, hummus or gorgonzola with pita chips, fried mac-and-cheese (a personal fave), and plenty of chocolate lolipops to go around. The crowd? Well-dressed, classy and lively.
My one issue would be the DJ. He played Jock-Jams music cira 1995. I found myself intoxicated throwing hoops to “Woomp there it is” and other terrible hits that reminds me of that terrible Michael Jordan movie Space Jam, causing a bit of an existential crisis. The music definitely did not correlate with art, martinis and well-dressed young professionals. Clearly, I was determined to make the best of it regardless. I’ll be requesting they have a new DJ next year, because we’re making Artini a new tradition.
Bad, DJ, bad.