Dine & Wine

10 Cocktails Inspired by Art for Artsy Drinking

Marija Canjuga 13 May 2024 min Read

Most of us like taking some “me time” and enjoying a long bubble bath, reading a good book, working out, or perhaps just contemplating the works of our favorite artists. If the last one is your choice I would recommend adding some fun mixed drinks. Here is my list of cocktails inspired by art for artsy drinking.

1. Red Velvet Martini & Black Square and Red Square

cocktails inspired art, Black Square and Red Square by Kazimir Malevich
Kazimir Malevich, Black Square and Red Square, 1915, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA.

Since there are many interpretations of Kazimir Malevich’s work Black Square and Red Square, let’s just focus on moving in that picture. The black square is static and heavy and on the other side is the red, fast-moving square. It’s like a combination of sweet cream and vodka in the Red Velvet Martini.

Cocktail Red Velvet Martini; Cocktails inspired by art:
Cocktails inspired by art: Red Velvet Martini. Pillsbury.

In fact, the Red Velvet Martini is a perfect Valentine’s Day cocktail, but why not make one for yourself? Put one teaspoon of chocolate syrup at the bottom of a glass. Refrigerate. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add 1 oz cake-flavored vodka, 1 oz crème de cacao, 3 tablespoons buttermilk, and 1- 2 drops of red food color to the shaker. Shake well and strain into your chilled glass.

2. Cosmopolitan & Portrait of Mrs. Boucard

Portrait of Mrs. Boucard by Tamara de Łempicka, 1931
Tamara de Lempicka, Portrait of Mrs. Boucard, 1931, reproduction, private collection.

There is no more elegant display of an established city woman than that of Tamara de Lempicka’s women. Further, what does an elegant madame like Mrs. Boucard miss in this portrait? A Cosmopolitan!

Cocktail Cosmopolitan; Cocktails inspired by art:
Cocktails inspired by art: The Cosmopolitan. Liquor.

Here is a recipe for how to make a “Cosmo” for yourself at home. Add 1 1/2 oz citrus vodka, 1 oz Cointreau, 1/2 oz fresh lime juice, and 1 dash cranberry juice with ice to a shaker. Shake! Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lime wheel.

3. Aperol Spritz & Oriental Poppies

Oriental Poppies, 1928 by Georgia O'Keeffe
Georgia O’Keeffe, Oriental Poppies, 1927, Collection of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA.

If you are keen on dipping yourself into intense colors and shapes you should look up Georgia O’Keeffe. Her mesmerizing flowers are perfect contemplation material. Especially the oriental poppies with their intense orange and red transitions. The perfect drink to have with them is definitely the Aperol Spritz.

Cocktail Aperol Spritz; Cocktails inspired by art:
Cocktails inspired by art: Aperol Spritz, 2017. Tim Nusong/Liquor.

The Aperol Spritz is one of the most popular Italian aperitifs. Add 3 oz prosecco, 2 oz Aperol, and 1 oz soda water to a wine glass with ice, and stir. Garnish with an orange wheel and enjoy.

4. Tequila Sunrise & Orange and Yellow

cocktails inspired art, Orange and Yellow by Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko, Orange and Yellow, 1956, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, USA.

If you’re not a fan of big flowers, maybe Mark Rothko’s large-scale monochrome surfaces are a better choice for you. For example, the Orange and Yellow for welcoming the summer. You could make yourself a Tequila Sunrise to enjoy this work in better company.

Cocktail Tequila Sunrise
Cocktails inspired by art: Tequila Sunrise. RecipeTin Eats.

The Tequila Sunrise is a slightly more complicated cocktail to make. Take a chilled highball glass. First, add 2 oz Blanco tequila, next add 4 oz fresh orange juice, finally float 1/4 oz Grenadine on the top. Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.

5. Zombie Cocktail & Nafea Faa Ipoipo

cocktails inspired art, Nafea Faa Ipoipo? (When Will You Marry?) by Paul Gauguin
Paul Gauguin, Nafea Faa Ipoipo? (When Will You Marry?), 1892, private collection, photograph by Beyeler Foundation via Wikimedia Commons (public domain).

Besides, if you’re more fond of far-off unknown lands then Paul Gauguin is your perfect companion. Travel to Tahiti with him and taste those faraway places by preparing yourself a Zombie cocktail.

Cocktails inspired by art: Zombie cocktail
Cocktails inspired by art: Zombie cocktail. Olive Magazine.

The Zombie Cocktail is a tiki cocktail. Pour 1 oz dark rum, 1 oz white rum, 2 oz lime juice, and 6 oz pineapple juice into a shaker filled with ice. Shake hard. Strain the mixture into a tall glass with ice. Slowly pour 1 tbsp grenadine to color the drink. Garnish with mint sprigs and fruit.

6. Death in the Afternoon & Portrait of Vincent van Gogh

cocktails inspired art, Portrait of Vincent van Gogh by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Portrait of Vincent van Gogh, 1887, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

What would be an artsy cocktail list without Absinthe? And who is more familiar with that magic drink than Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec? Obviously Vincent van Gogh.

Cocktail Death in the Afternoon
Cocktails inspired by art: Death in the Afternoon. Liquor.

If you have Absinthe at home, try pouring 1 1/2 oz of it into a coupe glass and add 4 1/2 oz Champagne. It is called Death in the Afternoon and was invented by Ernest Hemingway. Enjoy!

7. Mojito & Self-Portrait with Monkey

Self-Portrait with Monkey by Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait with Monkey, 1938, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, USA.

Frida Kahlo depicts herself in many of her self-portraits in front of green leaves. Those pictures, like the Self-Portrait with Monkey, have a very muggy atmosphere. They cause a thirst for something fresh and minty like the Mojito.

Cocktail Mojito; Cocktails inspired by art:
Cocktails inspired by art: Mojito. Liquor.

Mojito is my favorite cocktail. Muddle three mint leaves in a shaker. Add 2 oz white rum, 3/4 oz fresh lime juice, 1/2 oz Simple syrup, and ice and shake. Strain into a highball glass over fresh ice. Add a dash of club soda. Garnish with mint leaves and lime wheel.

8. Cuba Libre & Types and Customs of the Island of Cuba

cocktails inspired art, Types and Customs of the Island of Cuba by Victor Patricio de Landaluze
Victor Patricio de Landaluze, Types and Customs of the Island of Cuba, 1881. Wikimedia Commons (public domain).

Victor Patricio de Landaluze was practicing costumbrismo in the 19th century, depicting Cuban peasants, landowners, and slaves. In his works, he is doing a great job documenting life in Cuba. For example, we have a depiction of traditional customs here. I would recommend grabbing a Cuba Libre and exploring his other works.

Cocktail Cuba Libre
Cocktails inspired by art: Cuba Libre, 2019. Tim Nusog/Liquor.

Cuba Libre is probably the easiest tasty cocktail to make. Add 1 oz rum and 3 oz Coca-Cola to a highball glass filled with ice. Garnish with a lime wedge.

9. Bourbon Old Fashioned & Nighthawks

cocktails inspired art, Nighthawks by Edward Hopper
Edward Hopper, Nighthawks, 1942, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.

Edward Hopper’s silent and melancholic scenes are maybe not the best you can choose nowadays. However, they suit someone people’s personal tastes. I would recommend grabbing a Bourbon Old Fashioned to enjoy Hopper’s works fully.

Cocktail Bourbon Old Fashioned; Cocktails inspired by art:
Cocktails inspired by art: Bourbon Old Fashioned, 2019. Tim Nusog/Liquor.

First, add 1 tsp sugar, then 3 dashes of Angostura bitters, and 1 tsp water into a rocks glass. Stir it until the sugar is almost dissolved. Fill the glass with large ice cubes, add 2 oz bourbon, and gently stir. Express the oil of an orange peel over the glass, and drop it.

10. Diamond Blue Cocktail & Balloon Dogs

cocktails inspired art, One of Jeff Koons' balloon dogs, photographed at the opening of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, Los Angeles, 7 Feb 2008
Jeff Koons, Baloon Dog, 1994-2000, Broad Contemporary Art Museum, Los Angeles, CA, USA. Independent.

Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dogs are the most fun thing to look at. They are like a child’s dream (or nightmare) come true. Just add some unicorns and cotton candy. And grab a Diamond Blue to enjoy watching with.

Diamond Blue Cocktail; Cocktails inspired by art:
Cocktails inspired by art: Diamond Blue. Liquor.

The Diamond Blue is delicious. Add 3/4 oz Hendrick’s Gin, 3/4 oz crème de violette, and 1/4 oz Blue curaçao to a mixing glass. Squeeze a lemon wedge into the glass. Fill with ice, stir, and strain into a Champagne flute. Top with the 3 oz Champagne and garnish with a light dusting of edible silver powder.

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