Photography: Tiffany Shum (unless otherwise stated)
Follow Stephen On Instagram: @gaessler.stephen
Created by AGO Head Mixologist Stephen Gaessler who has been with the AGO since 2008, the ‘Mystical Landscapes‘ cocktails are inspired by some of the exhibit’s most renowned work. Gaessler was kind enough to walk us through the design and implementation of Monet’s Garden: A Mystical Cocktail Experience and allowed us to sample some of the menu items below.
Monet’s Garden ($17.00)
Inspired by Claude Monet and his 1907 painting Water Lilies (Nymphéas), it’s an assortment of berries and flowers which are added to the glass first, then spritzed lightly with rose and orange blossom water. The actual cocktail is made separately with Hendrick’s gin, Crème Yvette chamomile-infused rum, lemon juice, wildflower honey syrup, and lavender bitters. It’s then put into a tea pot with dry ice and poured over the garnishes.
Gaessler explains it as “A large collage of things you’d find in a garden” and it’s Frank Bar’s most popular cocktail. Everything is edible, including the flowers (which I tried!) However Gaessler warns the flowers are “fun to try, but one’s enough”.
Van Gogh In Paris ($15.00)
Inspired by The Starry Night over the Rhone the ‘Van Gogh In Paris’ is designed to reflect how they were drinking in Paris at the time. Typically during that time period, the cocktail would have been made with gin, however Gaessler’s includes Ketel One vodka, Lucid Absinthe Supérieure and fresh, house-made raspberry cordial with lemon juice.
The drink is then color corrected to match the sky in Van Gogh’s painting and finished with yellow sugar around the rim. This drink is exclusively for black licorice lovers, and I found the more I had of it, the stronger the flavor became.
When asked about the creative process behind making a cocktail like this, Gaessler explains, “For this particular one, I did a lot of research about the artist, I picked a lot of the curators brains which is a very good source of information, and then I went through all the cocktails that already existed at that time, in that region. I wanted it to be authentic to the artist, so I took very very old cocktails and modernized them, changing some of the flavor profiles, but the bare bones is essentially a cocktail that existed at that time.”
Ramos Gin Fizz ($ winkwink)
Gaessler also created us his favorite off-menu item a Ramos Gin Fizz. Not associated with the landscapes exhibit, the cocktail is not an official selection on Frank Bar’s menu mainly because it takes almost 20 mins to create, however if you happen to be feeling extra generous you might be able to convince him to make one for you. The drink includes Hendrick’s gin, lemon and lime juice, cream, sugar, egg white and orange blossom water and tastes very similar to a fizzy float.
About The Art Exhibition:
October 22, 2016 – January 29, 2017
Organized in partnership with the renowned Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Mystical Landscapes: Masterpieces from Monet, Van Gogh and more breaks new art historical ground, exploring the mystical experiences of 37 artists from 14 countries, including Emily Carr, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Piet Mondrian, Claude Monet, Edvard Munch, Georgia O’Keeffe and James McNeill Whistler.
Mystical Landscapes was conceived and developed by Katharine Lochnan, the AGO’s senior curator of international exhibitions, together with Roald Nasgaard and Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov, in addition to Guy Cogeval and Isabelle Morin Loutrel of the Musée d’Orsay.
Lenders include the Tate Britain; National Gallery of Canada; National Gallery of Scotland; National Museum, Stockholm; Munch Museum, Oslo; National Gallery, Prague; Leopold Museum, Vienna; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Art Institute of Chicago; and many other institutions worldwide.
Special thanks to the Art Gallery Of Ontario, Frank Bar and Mr. Stephen Gaessler for an amazing experience.