In Distillery Events, Distillery News, Nerdery

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a very cool event we’re participating in soon, Palette to Palate, which will be held at The Gallery in Lake Forest. I’ve been receiving more details on the art, as well as the dishes, so we’re working on our approach for the cocktails we’ll be pairing with each artist’s work and each chef’s dish. (The details on dishes, and the artwork descriptions, were provided by the fine folks who are organizing this event!)

Part Two – Initial Cocktail Development

Now, we’ve got an idea of what each chef has planned, and we’ve gathered some information about the artwork and artists. So, it’s time to start thinking about the flavors we want to accentuate with our cocktails, and how they will pair with the dishes. This is the fun part!

Pairing #1 – Japanese Influence

  • Artist: Ari Smejkal uses any and all materials to make his art, such as lumber, burning techniques, thick acrylic, impasto, oil paint (and at times WD-40) to create three dimensional paintings on wood and canvas.
  • Chef: Beau MacMillan will be preparing a roasted diver scallop with toasted peanut salsa Macha, banana mango agua chili, passion fruit pearls

Initially, I was thinking I’d use matcha tea, or maybe yuzu or sansho pepper in my cocktail. With the nutty spice typical of a salsa macha, along with the more tropical flavors, I have a new idea – I’m planning to use vodka as the base, to keep the flavor somewhat lighter, with accents of roasted chili pepper, lime, orange and fresh mango (or maybe passionfruit). I want this drink to be light and not too boozy, or it will overwhelm the dish.

I’m still going with a coupe glass, and will do something fun and out-of-the-box for the garnish, so the drink can also speak to Ari’s art.

Pairing #2 – Casino/Southwest influence

  • Artist: Cecilia Lanyon uses acrylic on canvas and wood; her style is inspired by modern, post modern art and pop-art, with bright colors and bold shapes. Her featured paintings are inspired by Casinos and the Southwest.
  • Chef: Ryan Clarke will be making shrimp ceviche with vegetable escabeche, radish,Serrano chili, lime, avocado

So, I’ve decided to use the tall, thin glass for this drink. This dish sounds light, bright and refreshing with some acidity and spice. I don’t want to overpower the lighter flavors of the shrimp and vegetables, so I’m planning a light, bright gin cocktail with fresh cucumber and muddled herbs, topped with club soda to keep it bright and bubbly. We’ll try to come up with a fun, bright garnish that works with Cecilia’s very fun art style.

Pairing #3 – Trees / Canadian influence

  • Artist Linda Scholly started her career as an illustrator- and later owned a mural business; her surrealist style carries into her oil paintings  and work with encaustics
  • Chef Paul Boehmer ‘s dish will be a seared NY strip crostini with horseradish, fig jam and Parmesan reggiano

My best bet when working with a rich cut of meat like a NY strip is to keep my drink spirit-forward, so that the bright, bracing drink can be an effective cut against the richness of the meat. This kind of pairing can be magical when it works well, as the drink can refresh the palate so that each delectable bite is as if it was the first one. That’s what I think I’ll go for here, with a rich Manhattan-style drink, not very sweet, with subtle notes of fig and deep baking spice.  I’ll use the cocktail glass I selected earlier this month… I’m still pondering how to incorporate Linda’s beautiful art into our presentation.

Pairing #4 – Chicago influence

  • Artist: ISz creates the most intricate, seamless, bright paintings you can imagine. He works primarily on canvas with oil paint, using mixed mediums such as paint markers, pen and spray paint.
  • Chef: Dominic Zumpano will be serving up Korean chicken and waffles, with a cornmeal waffle and flavor profile with lemongrass, gochujang, sambal, fish sauce, ginger, maple syrup and butter

This will be a rich, hearty dish with lots of flavors. I am planning to use our aged rum here, with ginger, maple and accents of subtle spice. I’m planning to serve this one  in the style of an old fashioned, with a super creative garnish that speaks to Isz’s creativity.

Stay tuned for the next report on actually fine-tuning the drink recipes!