When Embury got an email out of the blue requesting a recommendation for a craft bartender to create a signature drink honoring artist James Rosenquist for an upcoming party, we immediately thought of Dressler's Mark Buettler. The fete to celebrate the publication of "Painting Below Zero," a hefty Rosenquist career retrospective, packed some pretty serious old-school New York art world glamour into hosts Alhia Chacoff Napolu and Harlan Berger's spacious loft in Chelsea. Models towered over art dealers, art buyers, and media types while slides and videos of the artist's work were projected onto the wall. Two near-naked ladies, painted white, played frozen statues, with hot pink lights splashed on the wall behind them. The cocktail hour party swelled to capacity almost instantly as the sea of black-clad guests supped on passed hors d'oeuvre's from Le Cirque and flocked around Rosenquist to have their books signed. Ingrid Sischy, Morley Saffer and Joel Grey were among the marquee names, and the overall heavy duty New York cool and "what recession?" quality helped forged an indisputably happening party. As guests entered the loft directly from the elevator, they passed Mark's bar set up on a foosball table covered in Plexiglas and were offered drinks. Rosenquist (below, with hostess Napolu) is a tequila man, so Mark had been asked to come up with a tequila-based cocktail. Being the overachiever that he is, he created two.
The first was a riff on the Hemoglobin, a.k.a. Bandera that we'd written about recently. Mark took the beet-embellished margarita and curve balled it with the addition of some Apple Jack, and a cinnamon simple syrup, shaking and pouring over ice. The vivid purple highball was meant to evoke the hyper-rich colors in Rosenquist's work, and he named it after he'd noticed a lot of "Untitled #..."s in the artist's bio. Mark always says naming the drink is the hardest part of creating one, apparently Rosenquist sometimes shares that quandary.
1 1/2 oz. Reposado Tequila
1 oz. Applejack
3/4 oz. Lime Juice
1/2 oz. Cinnamon simple syrup
1/3 oz. Beet juice
2 dashes Ginger Juice
Pink Murray River Salt 1/2 Rim
The second drink was a re purposed Y Tu Mole Tambien, slightly compressed in scale and re-dubbed a "Tarnished Halo," a nod to Rosenquist's 1973 painting, "A Pale Silver Halo." It's essentially an almond margarita--blanco tequila, lime juice, dark agave and and Orgeat--topped off with Bittermen's Xocoaltl Mole bitters and served in a glass rimmed with Almond flour, sea salt and Ovaltine... just ridiculously tasty. Mark started it off wanting to make a drink that used Ovaltine and wound up crafting liquid gold.
TARNISHED HALO (a.k.a. Y Tu Mole Tambien)1 1/2 Oz. Blanco Tequila
1/2 oz. Lime juice
1/3 oz. Dark Agave
1/3 oz. Orgeat
4 Dashes Mole Bitters
With Ovaltine, Almond & Sea Salt Rim
The Tarnished Halo seemed to be the real hit, although the vegetal
charms of the Untitled #1 were a refreshing counterpoint, and some
clever guests rotated back and forth from one to the other. Crispin
Glover, a charming fellow, seemed to fall quite in love with the Halo. His
companion for the evening was also uncommonly lovely and stood out
amdist the sea of beauties.
Renee Price from the Neue Gallery with Martha Stewart. When a friend asked Martha if she wanted to try one of the cocktails she demurred, saying she was sticking with wine that evening. Martha! Call us and we'll send Mark over to make you a Tarnished Halo--it will change the way you think about tequila and Ovaltine forever.
Sheila Berger, Johan Lindberg and hosts Alhia Chacoff Napolu and Harlan Berger.
During the inevitable final phase of any really good party (that is, doing shots), Mark made up batches of his default shooting libation, which shall hereafter be known as:THE ROSENSHOT
4 parts blanco tequila
1 part fresh lime juice
Shake vigorously over ice, strain into shot glasses.
Photos: Mark Tusk