All Material Courtesy Of AGO
Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors invites visitors to imagine what infinity looks like. The AGO Bistro’s bartender and mixologist Stephen Gaessler wants you to try and taste it. It’s why Gaessler has created a menu of Kusama-themed cocktails for art-goers looking to extend the experience.
Stephen has been making art-themed cocktails since the fall of 2016, and continues to amaze us with how he combines artistic influences, colours and styles – as well as cultural history – into his drinkable creations. A wonderful example of this, was his Mystical Landscapes inspired cocktails that we had the opportunity to photograph and experience HERE.
For Infinity Mirrors, Stephen took cues from the patterns and colours Kusama uses in her work, the era of 1960’s avant-garde New York in which she rose to fame, and of course, the flavours of her home country of Japan. Stephen says for inspiration he “Looks to the industry as a whole.” and that whenever he travels he seeks out inspiration “I hit a couple of the city’s best bars and I am always searching for articles, lists and industry news to stay on top of new trends.”
One drink Stephen created to celebrate Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors is inspired by the final artwork in the exhibition, The Obliteration Room, which gets increasingly covered in bright dot stickers as more and more visitors go through the show. To capture the whimsy of The Obliteration Room, Stephen uses raspberry and blue Curaçao flavour pearls in this cocktail, Obliteration Fizz, which he shows us how to make step-by-step in the video below.
Stephen suggests that for those interested in getting into the industry, or more specifically bartending or cocktail design, that you should “Find a good introductory program that teaches you all the basics. Get a job where you get to make all the standard classics and try to learn as much as you can. Once you are comfortable with those, explore your studies that specifically teach you the history of cocktails and cocktail design and then let your own creative forces take over. At this level it is all in the details, so pay attention to them, have fun, and show your personality.”
Another cocktail on the menu, A Love Letter for Nixon, recalls a letter Kusama wrote to then-president Richard Nixon in 1968, protesting the Vietnam War. She wrote, “Let’s forget ourselves, dearest Richard, and become one with the Absolute, all together in the altogether. As we soar through the heavens, we’ll paint each other with polka dots, lose our egos in timeless eternity, and finally discover the naked truth: You can’t eradicate violence by using more violence.”
Inspired by the letter, Stephen’s concept for Love Letter is beautiful and layered. The cocktail is sweet with a bit of acidity, combining shochu, yuzu liqueur, lychee cactus pear juice. As a final touch, Stephen adds an edible flower for a romantic offering of peace.
As for Stephen, his favorite cocktail right now would have to be the “Mezcal Last Word – a simple balance of equal parts, Mezcal (the smokier the better), Green Chartreuse, Maraschino Liqueur and Lime Juice.”
For more information on the AGO Bistro’s menu, cocktails and dining events, please see: http://ago.ca/dine/ago-bistro