Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Brouwer's Manhattan

Brouwer's Manhattan. Oil on panel, 8" x 8".

I felt like a bit of an ass ordering a cocktail at a statewide triple-IPA event, but I'm glad I did.

Brouwer's Cafe, a slightly gothic, belgian-style pub built in an old warehouse in Seattle, hosted the opening party for the high-octane hopfest. Along with the rest of the Iron Goat Crew, I drank my share of beer before succumbing to the temptations of the cocktail menu. Thanks to the generosity of Lucas Brouwers, I came away with a surprise new addition to Mixology with a Twist.

Heavy wooden booths and bars, rock walls and lots of ironwork make Brouwer's both cozy and impressive. The problem was, how to capture the old-world feel of the pub without building a complicated set? After mulling it over for several days, I found a refreshingly uncomplicated answer: an old wooden yoga block and an 88-cent vinyl floor tile.

This small, simple piece was a joy to paint. I was afraid it might be a bit too simple. But the second I switched the light onto the beautifully-colored drink, the setup came to life. Colors projected gorgeously onto the ice cubes in the mixing pitcher, creating a series of bright, graphic shapes. The result, I think, is an interesting combo of modern style and natural materials.

I'm especially happy with the looseness of the piece. I only had a few hours to do it, which pushed me to make quicker decisions and bolder strokes. Maybe I should give myself a time limit for every painting!

Monday, April 6, 2015

French Farmhouse

French Farmhouse. Oil on panel, 12" x 12".

An all-day, beer-lovers' brunch inspired this new twist on the French 75. Truthfully, the idea had been rolling around my head for a while, but the brunch kickstarted the process.

If I haven't beat this to death already, I am part owner of Iron Goat Brewing, a microbrewery in Spokane. The brewery is moving to a bigger space with a bigger liquor license, and a cocktail menu is now an option. A collection of beer-related drinks seemed apropos, so I've been pondering possibilities. Asked to bring a brunch cocktail on short notice, I gave this idea a try.

This drink replaces champagne in a French 75 with farmhouse ale (saison). Our seasonal farmhouse ale didn't come out until after the aforementioned brunch, so I used Boulevard's Tank 7 instead. (As a former graphic designer, I have a weakness for pretty packaging, so that was another excuse to use one of my favorite non-Goat beers.) The saison substituted seamlessly, the drink was declared a keeper, and I decided to paint it.

To get inspiration for the painting, I googled French country decor. I have never seen so many ticking stripes on one search page in my life. Or anywhere, really. Whitewashed wood and ticking stripes as far as the eye could see. Unbelievably, I already had a bar towel with stripes. Amazing! After several hours of futzing, an equal amount of easel time, and an unheard-of $0 in new props, a painting, and an unexpected addition to the new book, was born.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Last Canes

Last Canes Cocktail. Oil on panel, 8" x 8".

Every so often, the list of unpainted cocktails needs restocking. When that happens, someone has to take one for the team and go find new drinks. It's tough work, but it must be done.

A few weeks ago, the job fell to me alone. I headed to Clover to find Kristy White, and find her I did. She mixed me a delicious drink she had recently invented (Pablo's Muse, coming soon). Then she set to work calling other bartenders for me. (I am always pleasantly surprised at the generosity of the bartenders I meet—not just with drinks, but with volunteering to find more people to share more great drinks.)

Kristy and bar manager Justin recommended Cameron Walls, another Clover bartender. Cameron happened to be heading our way. In the meantime, Kristy mixed a favorite Cameron concoction: a drink the Clover staff had nicknamed the "Little Cutie." A bit sweet, but with the layered complexity I love, the "Cutie" was a hit. Inspired by Cameron's mother's marmalade, the drink contained rum, amaretto, apricot liqueur and lemon juice in addition to the bitter-sweet orange preserves.

Cameron arrived and within minutes had me sold on an additional drink (the Weber, also coming soon).  But he had a problem with the Cutie… the name. Not manly. Few men would order a drink called the "Little Cutie." In order to give the drink universal appeal, Cameron decided it was time to commit to a different name. He chose Last Canes, a sugar harvest celebration from Barbados, as the permanent title.  

Last Canes, Little Cutie—whatever it's called, this drink is delicious and fun to paint!