Many architects have been up in arms recently over the news that MoMA is going to demolish the former building that housed the American Folk Art Museum. However, some in the arts world say don’t cry over a spilled cocktail — unless it’s a finely stirred Negroni, I say. Anyways, what does this signal? Hypocrisy on MoMA’s part? A lack of understanding for suiting the true function of a museum? Self-absorption by architects? Idol worship? Developer/owner as king? Maybe all of the above, but I think it signals the opportunity for discourse regarding the subject. No better place to join diverse crowds than at the always-worthy hub of conversation — the drinking place. Maybe the one where Mr. Taniguchi drowned his misplaced sorrows that started all this hubbub:
“When Taniguchi was chosen to design the new, vastly expanded Museum of Modern Art seven years ago, a lot of people in the art world scratched their heads. Out of 10 architects invited to compete for this prize commission (all were under 60—MoMA had ruled out the generation of Frank Gehry), Taniguchi was virtually unknown in America, and his scheme for MoMA’s midtown Manhattan site seemed so smooth and corporate—so unfashionably tame—it looked like a long shot next to the provocative concepts of such hotshots as Rem Koolhaas and Herzog & de Meuron. Even Taniguchi didn’t think he’d win. Convinced he’d fatally fumbled his key presentation to MoMA’s trustees, he headed straight to a neighborhood bar to mourn.” — “New York’s great modern museum is reborn, thanks to $425 million and an unlikely architect named Taniguchi” by Cathleen McGuigan, Newsweek
Funny how you can happen upon drinking culture and monumental architecture, sometimes without even knowing it…and that’s not due to the drinks. Not entirely.
If you look in the picture to the left, you’ll see a ghost advert for Emerson’s Ginger Mint Julep, in a photo captured after leaving the Pig & Punch picnic/party at Tales of the Cocktail this year. Me, my pork-loving belly, and my punch-sampling palate had a grand time. But I digress.
While the image of that advert might have you searching the French Quarter for a barkeep named Emerson that mixes up the stiffest, sweetest, spiciest ginger-enhanced bourbon cocktail, it’s actually closer to a mint-enhanced ginger ale — check the definition of a julep in this previous post. But after a bit more research, I found that this Emerson fellow was into a bit more mixology, a little closer to home. One of the more architecturally-notable buildings in Baltimore is the Bromo-Seltzer Tower, built in 1911 and one of the tallest buildings in the city for the early part of the 20th century — you can check the stats on Wikipedia to be sure. The company mainly produced a granular salt headache remedy, which I’m sure was useful to factory and shipping workers by Inner Harbor and Fell’s Point — possibly a hangover cure to a night drinking after second shift? Maybe so, but the final link in the drinking chain is explained in an anecdote on how they concocted their julep mastery:
FIZZIES® was also invented by Emerson Drug Company. The idea derived from scientists working with chemical formulas similar to “Bromo Seltzer” and wondering if a fun, fruit flavored drink could be developed the same way. “Wouldn’t it be grand if we could drop a tablet in a glass of water and have an instant soda pop?” After long hard work, they finally figured out how to combine the right combinations of fruit flavoring, sweetener, citric acid and sodium bicarbonate (a substance that is much like baking soda) into a magical tablet that when dropped into water, turned water into an instant sparkling, effervescent fruit drink!
Aha!! So to bring this whole cross-country carbonated connection to a close…while you may have gotten warm thoughts of a craft soda jerk taking finely shaved ginger, muddling that with the finest crystals of Demerara sugar, giving a loving and playful spank to heavenly-grown mint, then pouring carbonated water akin to Niagara Falls into a tall glass with ice that only a mother’s heart can make — you’d be on the wrong side of the bar. Imagine a cloudy glass with tap water, then taking what amounts to a “Sea Monkey” and dropping it into the glass. A few bubbles and voila — ginger mint julep. Sounds tasty. Harrumph.
I gotta go find Emerson — maybe he’s got a pill for a Gimlet. Or a Negroni. Or an Old Fashioned. Hope springs eternal.
Men and Cocktails: A “man’s best friend” type of synergy. Find one and the other is probably within toasting distance. But in the midst of this environment, what does the man wear to set himself apart? If the woman wears any incarnation of the “little black dress” — the “Eve” of cocktail culture — what is her “Adam”?
How do we fashionably transition to The Hour? Is the loosening of the tie, or a changing of the guard — switching to flashier or more colorful neckwear — enough? Do we put a blazer over the polo shirt and keep it moving? Do we change out of the Clark Kent of a shirt and slacks and fly into the Superman of a dark suit?
Do you roll up your sleeves so your Martinez doesn’t spill on your french cuffs? Do you put on a flashy set of cufflinks to shine along with the ice in your Sapphire Gimlet? Does your pocket square accentuate the warm red hue of your Plymouth Negroni?
How, as men, are we to find this out? The Aquarium, inside the Alfred Dunhill store in Tokyo, provides an environment that surely offers enough reason to think about it. Why wait until after you’re done shopping to share a cocktail and discuss your shopping decisions. Drinking WHILE shopping? Now that’s a combination that an Alexander McQueen emsemble couldn’t measure up to.