Arts & Culture

Three Cocktails Inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe

Bartenders toast the acclaimed painter as a new exhibit opens at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh

photo: Courtesy of North Carolina Museum of Art

Her perspective-shifting art and ability to glide past gender barriers make Georgia O’Keeffe an ideal beacon for Matrons of the Arts, an initiative by the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. All year, Matrons programming has shown the contributions women make to the art world—not just as artists, but also as mentors and philanthropists.

The Beyond: Georgia O’Keeffe and Contemporary Art, open through January 20, features thirty-five of the famed painter’s flowers and landscapes, coupled with works by contemporary artists who explore similar motifs. “Although she never wanted to be recognized as a female artist, just an artist, period,” says the museum’s chief curator, Linda Johnson Dougherty, “I think O’Keeffe would see the need for Matrons.”

In honor of the exhibit, the museum asked bartenders across North Carolina to create specialty cocktails inspired by the art. Several have done so, including the three below:

Cocktail: Yellow Valley
Inspired by: Yellow Mountains

photo: Courtesy of North Carolina Museum of Art

Loie Hollowell’s Yellow Mountains (2016) and the cocktail Yellow Valley.

Coleen Speaks, bartender at Hummingbird in Raleigh: “The combination of Reposado tequila, Amontillado sherry, elderflower, agave, and grapefruit oils creates an incredibly well-balanced sipper with nutty, floral, and vanilla flavors. Visually, the deep yellow color reflects the yellow mountains in the painting, and the blue space in the middle of the piece—the ‘valley,’ if you will—relates back to the shape of the coupe glass the cocktail is served in, and was the inspiration for the drink’s name.”

Yield: Makes 1 cocktail

1½ oz. Reposado tequila
1 oz. Amontillado sherry
½ oz. St. Elder Liqueur
1 barspoon agave nectar
Grapefruit peel
For garnish: Nasturtium blossoms

Stir all ingredients together with ice, pour into chilled coupe. Express oils on top from grapefruit peel. Garnish with Nasturtium or other edible flower.

Cocktail: Secret Garden
Inspired by: 

photo: Courtesy of North Carolina Museum of Art

Georgia O’Keeffe’s Petunias (1925) and the cocktail Secret Garden.

Susan Pizzuti, bartender at Crossroads at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill: “I garnish the cocktail with fresh, edible flowers and always make sure to remind folks that if they haven’t eaten a flower since preschool, now is the time. … I want people to sip this drink and remember the delight of climbing fragrant Magnolia trees or the careless joy of playing tag. I hope those who order it on a dreary January day feel, for a moment, like they’re daydreaming in a sunny garden.”

Yield: Makes 1 cocktail

2 oz. Three Olives Rosé Vodka
¾ oz. St. Germain
¼ oz. fresh lemon juice
4 drops hibiscus syrup
For garnish: Edible flowers

Combine all ingredients besides garnish into cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with fresh edible flowers.

Cocktail: The Sand Hills
Inspired by: Small Purple Hills

photo: Courtesy of North Carolina Museum of Art

Georgia O’Keeffe’s Small Purple Hills (1934) and the cocktail The Sand Hills.

Michael Kilbridge, bartender at Littler in Durham:Small Purple Hills immediately reminded us of the classic Blood and Sand cocktail. This is our play on it, with a wink to the Pacific Northwest through the rainier cherries, and a double wink to our North Carolina sand hills home, an ancient beach.”

Yield: Makes 1 cocktail

1 oz. Ardbeg 10 Scotch
1 oz. Auchentoshen Scotch
1 oz. Antica Vermouth
1/4 oz. luxardo
½ oz. cherry syrup
½ oz. blood orange puree
For garnish: Brandied rainier cherry
For garnish: Orange peel

Add all ingredients to a shaker glass with ice. Shake and double strain into a coupe. Garnish with a brandied rainier cherry and orange peel.