Presented by the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s 1869 Society, Artini is a vibrant evening of art, cocktails, entertainment, and dancing. From February through March, mixologists from the area’s top venues compete to create the most artistic martini. These specifically created artinis are inspired by works in the Corcoran’s collection. On Thursday, February 20, Artini was held at Oyamel featuring Mixologist Jasmine Chae who created a cocktail inspired by Frederic Remington’s “Off the Range.”
Shots. Shots. Shots! Absolutely not, at Oyamel. You may be familiar with this restaurant as it is a part of José Andrés’ Penn Quarter takeover; however, this night belonged to Artini 2014 Feature Nights and Jasmine Chae, the lead mixologist. A rough and rugged piece, “Off the Range” (“Coming through the Rye”) sculpted by Frederic Remington, is a gorgeous bronzed sculpture with a bit of patina caused by the oxidation due to exposure.
While sitting at the bar, Jasmine friendly as ever, came over to speak. Remembering each other from a previous event, we were tickled to find out that we both shared the same name. Asking about the concept behind Los Campos de Arandas, Chae explained to me that she was enthralled to receive a piece as different as “Off the Range,” as it is the only statue selection for Artini this year. Translating the name into English, Los Campos de Arandas literally means the campgrounds of Arandas. Located in the eastern part of the state of Jalisco, Mexico, Aranda is home to premium tequila making.
Jasmine informed me that she attempted to envision exactly what these cowboys would like to drink after a long, hard day on the range. Of course using two spirits she is familiar with, tequila and mezcal, she added acid in the form of a grilled lemon and something known as sal de gusano which is the worm found in mezcal ground into Oaxacan salt. This exotic ingredient in my opinion, takes the cocktail to the next level as you can imagine after a hard day on the range, the vaqueros were looking for something strong but tasteful. The salt air that tops the drink finalizes the balance between imagination/execution; robust/smooth; and saline/citrus.
Everything that Jasmine conveyed in her concept definitely came through in her detailed creation. I sat at a bar table amongst a pair of friends deep in conversation about their day; yet, the look of satisfaction on my face made them both ask “What are you drinking?” As a woman from Texas far away from home, this concoction not only put a smile on my face but made me reconsider drinking tequila; and though it will never be in a shot glass, I do see myself returning to Oyamel over and over again.