For over a year now, art lovers looking to end their weeks on a high note have been turning to the Frick Collection, which for 65 straight Fridays has offered new episodes in its YouTube series “Cocktails With a Curator.”
Each installment shares a drink recipe and invites viewers to join in at home while learning about an artwork in its storied collection of paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts.
Today, that streak comes to an end, with deputy director and chief curator Xavier Salomon having poured his final drink for online audiences last Friday night.
“Like all good things, they naturally come to an end at some point,” Salomon told Artnet News in an email.
The series ended like it began last April: with a Manhattan. Salomon chose that first cocktail in tribute to the island that the museum calls home at a time when New York was under siege, at the epicenter of a global pandemic.
Giovanni Bellini, St. Francis in the Desert (1480). Courtesy of the Frick Collection, New York.
“It started at the time of lockdown and forced quarantines, when people could not go out with friends to share a drink, so the idea of mixing cocktails with art came about fairly quickly,” Salomon said.
He mixed that first Manhattan, which includes whiskey and sweet vermouth, to go with one of the Frick’s most famous paintings, Giovanni Bellini’s St. Francis in the Desert. Last week, Salomon wrapped things up with a variation of the drink, a Black Manhattan, which swaps Amaro, a bitter Italian digestif, for the traditional sweet vermouth. In the meantime, he discussed Arrangement in Black and Gold: Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac by James McNeill Whistler.
“My favorite cocktails are also some of the best known and traditional,” Salomon said, “like the Martini Vesper, Manhattan, and Mint Julep. On the other hand, I had to struggle to drink an Ouzo Lemonade—I never liked the taste of anise.”
The video series was a surprise hit for the Frick, having been collectively viewed more than 1.7 million times to date. (Pre-pandemic, a typical Frick program might top out at just 400 YouTube views.) In May, the museum was honored with a Webby award for the series.
“I have always been surprised and humbled by the success of the program,” Salomon said. “I am glad that people all over the world responded to the simple idea that works of art from the past can have an effect on us and improve our lives, especially at times of crisis.”
Here are 10 recipes to try from “Cocktails With a Curator.”
1 part Italian Vermouth1 part BourbonStir well and strain into a cocktail glassMaraschino cherry
3 parts Aperol2 parts dry prosecco1 splash of sparkling waterGarnish with orange or lemon
3 parts dry gin1 part vodka½ part Lillet BlancChilled
1 part blanco tequila½ part apricot brandy½ part fresh lime juice1 dash bitters
2 parts Whiskey¾ parts simple syrup¾ parts lemon juiceserve chilled
1 part absinthe½ part vodka½ part fresh lemon juice½ part simple syrupstir with ice and straintop with champagne and garnish with a lemon twist
1½ parts Calvados½ part Benedictine D.O.M.½ part Yellow Chartreuse liqueur2 dashes of Angostura bittersmint leaf
2 oz genever1 teaspoon brown sugarA few dashes of classic bittersA dash of orange bittersA splash of sparkling waterGarnished with a caramelized orange slice
1 part Vodka2 parts Tomato juiceLemon juiceWorcester sauceFew drops of Tabasco sauceHorseradishSalt and pepperIceGarnish with celery, lemon, olives
1 part limoncello1 part sparkling lemonadeTopped with Prosecco and garnished with mint
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