What pairs better with art than libations? We’ve concocted seven refreshing, mixologist-approved cocktails that are inspired by—and pair effortlessly with—some of the most iconic works of Modern art. The next time you browse through a book of Gustav Klimt’s masterpieces or rent Loving Vincent at home on a Friday night, create these simple recipes at home and sip on a cocktail inspired by their work for a truly multi-sensory experience.
The Kiss and “A Sweet Embrace”
The Kiss was created by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt in 1908, and it’s continued to captivate audiences since. The piece is an iconic painting from Klimt’s Golden Period and features shimmering gold tones inspired by art from the Byzantine Period. Klimt often explored themes of love in his work, which is demonstrated through the intimate embrace depicted in the work.
Enjoy a cocktail that pairs perfectly with the luminous surface of The Kiss. Mix together champagne, Limoncello, and sparkling water to create a drink that shimmers as brightly as this iconic painting. The Limoncello in this original cocktail gives it a vibrant golden hue similar to the painting and the floral flavors complement the essence of the piece. Once the ingredients are combined, add fresh flowers like rose petals and lavender to mimic the flower crown worn by the woman in the painting.
Cafe Terrace at Night and “A Midnight Stroll”
Vincent van Gogh’s Cafe Terrace at Night is the first example of the artist’s iconic Post-Impressionist star-filled sky. The painting was created on-location, not from memory, and the cafe depicted in the work still exists today in Arles, France. It has since been renamed “Cafe Van Gogh” and is frequently visited by tourists.
Pay tribute to van Gogh’s signature style with a cocktail that mimics the colors and ambience of the piece. Combine vodka and Blue Curaçao to create a cobalt-hued cocktail that will make you feel like you’re enjoying an alfresco dining experience no matter where you are in the world. Top off your cocktail with lemon-flavored soda water to add bubbles. For a nod to van Gogh’s Dutch heritage, consider using a Dutch vodka like Ketel One.
Oriental Poppies and “Cherry Pomegranate Spritzer”
Georgia O’Keeffe is known for her love of complex and abstract paintings of flowers, and she aspired to show others the true beauty found in nature. When Georgia O’Keeffe painted Oriental Poppies in 1928 the piece was considered groundbreaking: O’Keeffe intentionally removed background from the painting’s composition to make sure that the viewer’s focus would be on the giant poppies themselves.
The “Cherry Pomegranate Spritzer” cocktail is slightly more complex, just like O’Keeffe’s use of abstraction in her work. To make this drink, you’ll first need to mash the cherries to a pulp with a fork in a medium bowl. Add water and bring the mixture to a boil. Next, remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for ten minutes before straining the mixture. Once strained, add pomegranate juice, prosecco, and sparkling water to taste, and florals and an orange slice for garnish. Poppies are poisonous, so avoid adding them to your cocktail creation. Instead, opt for equally beautiful, but safe-to-eat blooms like pansies or rose petals.
The Persistence of Memory and “Forget Me Not Sangria”
Salvador Dalí was a prominent Spanish surrealist known for creating dreamlike paintings that explore the boundaries of imagination and the unconscious. In The Persistence of Memory, Dalí contrasts a realistic portrayal of the seaside of his hometown of Catalonia with distorted images of clocks, animals, and other unexpected figures. The piece is arguably Dalí’s most famous work, and the outlandish depiction of a melting clock is hauntingly resonant.
To play off of the colorful hues and unusual shapes and textures in Dali’s work, mix up a bright and colorful sangria. In a large glass or pitcher, combine white wine, sparkling water, and orange liqueur with a variety of colorful fruits like pineapple, mango, orange, and blueberries to create a dreamy mixed drink. Serve the sangria on ice in an unexpected drinking glass.
Self-Portrait with Monkey and “Frida Mezcahlo”
Frida Kahlo is known for creating self-portraits and portraits that were inspired by artifacts and natural wonders found in Mexico. In Mexican mythology, the monkey is the a symbol of lust, but in her painting Self-Portrait with Monkey, the monkey is depicted as if having its own gentle and kind soul. The painting was commissioned by A. Conger Goodyear, the president of the Museum of Modern Art at the time.
In celebration of Kahlo’s work, mix up a “Frida Mezcahlo.” First, rub a lime over the rim of a sturdy drinking glass and dip the cup into chili-lime salt to season the rim. Next, add the cucumber and muddle in the glass. In a cocktail shaker, combine mezcal, triple sec, and lime juice and shake to mix. Pour the cocktail over ice and serve on a hot afternoon.
The Son of Man and “One Bad Apple”
The Son of Man was created by surrealist painter René Magritte in 1964. The picture was painted as a self-portrait and shows Magritte’s interest in recurring symbols in his work: the bowler hat and the apple. The Son of Man is part of a series that includes two other paintings that were also created in 1964, Man in the Bowler Hat and The Great War on the Facades.
When enjoying this painting, enjoy a “One Bad Apple” cocktail. Combine ginger-infused vodka, honey simple syrup, and apple liqueur in a cocktail shaker to create a tart and unexpected cocktail. Pour the drink over ice and add a green apple slice for a garnish that pairs perfectly with this painting.
Woman with a Hat and “Hat’s Off”
French artist Henri Émile Benoît Matisse is best known for his use of color and his fluid, original draughtsmanship. He is known primarily as a painter, though he was also a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor. Matisse’s painting Woman with a Hat is a portrait of his wife. This painting was a central part of the controversy that led to the art movement known as Fauvism. While the painting is composed of vibrant hues, when Madam Matisse was asked what color dress she wore to pose for the portrait she answered, “Black, of course.”
Make a “Hat’s Off” cocktail to pair with Matisse’s iconic painting. Combine champagne, raspberry liqueur, and berry simple syrup to create a sophisticated and refreshing drink. Add colorful berries for extra garnish.
Whether your cocktail of choice includes whiskey, vodka, or sparkling wine, these unique recipes are sure to shake up your appreciation for both art and craft cocktails. Learn how to choose the perfect glass to pair with your libation of choice here.
Sources: The Modern Proper | My Modern Met | The Whole Smiths | Vincent van Gogh | Half Baked Harvest | Georgia O’Keeffe | Hola Jalapeno | eatwell 101 | MoMA | Rene Magritte | Frida Kahlo | Mental Floss | Henri Matisse