Hit up the Corcoran tonight to try martinis from eight of the city’s best mixologists.
By Laura Wainman
It’s that time of year again. No, not March Madness; well, yes, but we have cocktails, not sports, on our brains today! Tonight marks the sixth annual ARTINI, a Washington favorite that combines art and libations, put on by the Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art + Design’s 1869 Society. All month long, the city’s best mixologists have been competing to create to the best artistic martini – an “artini” if you will- inspired by pieces in the Corcoran collection, and tonight the winner will be crowned. In addition to a winner of the popular vote, a “critics choice” winner will be announced, chosen by a panel of local spirit experts, including our very own Wine & Spirits writer, Kelly A. Magyarics.
This year’s competitors hail from bars all across the city: Ambar, Bandolero, Daikaya, The Gibson, Jack Rose, The Passenger, P.O.V., and Zentan. Guests of tonight’s soiree will be treated to tastings of all eight martinis, and their makers will be on hand to answer any and all questions related to their creation or craft. We chatted with mixologist Milton Hernandez of Ambar to get the scoop on what he has in store for tonight.
Washington Life: Milton, are you new to the ARTINI world, or you a repeat competitor?
Milton Hernandez: I have competed before and I couldn’t wait to do it again.
WL: What cocktail will you be shaking up tonight?
MH: It’s called the Lé Corcoran and it is inspired by Albert Bierstadt’s Mount Corcoran. I make it with Apple corn whiskey, Absinthe, Chocolate bitters and Mezcal añejo.
WL: What is your biggest challenge in making this artini?
MH: Mimicking the river from the painting, which is an emerald green. I realized I could use absinthe, which is almost the exact same color.
WL: Who is your biggest competition?
MH: Alex Bookless of The Passenger. We have gone head to head before, and she is good.
WL: In this year’s mixologist photo, you are each holding a different object. Can you explain what this objects are and what purpose they serve?
MH: We each got to pick a tool that represented our philosophy on mixology. I chose the shaker, because it is absolutely my number one tool behind the bar.
WL: What are you most looking forward to about ARTINI?