LOUISVILLE, Ky., Nov. 21, 2019—Van Gogh Vodka named its second BARtist in Residence last week, J.A. Harrison of Nashville, Tenn., with his cocktail—The Sadness Will Not Last Forever. The live competition was held in Charleston, South Carolina, on October 29—a few days after International Artist Day. Other contestants included Lauren Pellecchia of O’Neal’s Tavern in Cincinnati, Ohio; and Calvin Young of Ozumo Concepts International in San Francisco. The “Art of the Cocktail” competition is presented by Chilled Magazine in collaboration with Charleston’s Principle Gallery and sponsored by Van Gogh Vodka.
Harrison is the director of the beverage program for craft-cocktail bar, Minerva Avenue. In addition to the $2500 grand prize, $1000 is being donated in Harrison’s name to his art charity of choice, The UnLonely Project for Art & Healing. During the competition, Harrison shared that mental health is an important platform for him, having lost his best friend to his personal demons. He also spoke about the importance of nature, taking care of the planet and being outside to improve mental health, whether that is working in his garden or hiking and enjoying local parks.
The winning cocktail was inspired by two of Van Gogh’s works: “Flowering Garden,” and “Pine Trees with Figure in the Garden of Saint Paul Hospital.” From different times in his career, and depicting very different subject matter, Harrison noted that the color palette was the same in both paintings and inspired his ingredient choices. From making his own housemade bitter honey syrup (including some ingredients he foraged himself), to using Trash Tiki lemon stock (which utilizes fruit peels and otherwise discarded parts to make the stock), J.A. impressed the judges with his creativity and passion that went into the development of this cocktail.
“It was a really, really close call and the judges had to discuss this to come to the decision we did but we thought that J.A.’s story, his inspiration and his cocktail were so well executed that he deserved to win,” said Jeff Greif, publisher of Chilled Magazine.
“We were thrilled to work with Frank Conrad Russen from The Principle Gallery, as well as our friends at Chilled Magazine to host this contest again in Charleston,” said Jason Schladenhauffen, president and CEO of 375 Park Avenue Spirits, the exclusive importer of Van Gogh Vodkas. “The contestants all brought their very best again this year. I’m glad I didn’t have to be a judge!”
Competitor Lauren Pellecchia wowed the judges with her “Vlinder” cocktail, which was a beautiful blue hue from the Van Gogh Acai-Blueberry Vodka, and her own homemade Butterfly Pea syrup. She said she was inspired by Van Gogh’s Giant Peacock Moth and used this to create the layers of blue in her drink, and even her choice of butterfly pea syrup to add even more blue. The name of the cocktail is the Dutch word for “butterfly,” again tying it all together from the colors in the painting to the subject and name of her drink.
Final competitor Calvin Young was largely inspired by his own ancestry and heritage—Japanese, Korean and Chinese—as well as Van Gogh’s “Courtesan; after Eisen,” which the artist created due to his interest in Japanese prints and based on a work by Japanese artist Kesai Eisen. Young’s cocktail used a chrysanthemum-infused dry vermouth, an homage to the flower’s importance in Asian culture. He also incorporated absinthe, well known to be a favorite of Van Gogh.
In addition to the sippable art created by these professionals, Van Gogh Vodka commissioned Charleston-based artist Kyle Stuckey to create a piece of visual art inspired by Van Gogh. The painting features sunflowers, often painted by Van Gogh, and a silhouette of a Van Gogh vodka bottle, as well as fruit. The still life represents some of Van Gogh’s earlier works.
The event’s master of ceremonies was Jonathan Pogash, The Cocktail Guru and frequent collaborator with Van Gogh Vodka. Judges included Jeff Grief and Thom Meintel from Chilled Magazine; Frank Conrad Russen of The Principle Gallery; artist Kyle Stuckey; Trey Jenkins, National Account Beverage Marketing for Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC); and, last year’s BARtist in residence, Pablo Sanchez.
As part of the contest, all finalists received round trip airfare to Charleston for themselves and a guest, as well as two nights in one of Charleston’s finest hotels, The Spectator. The winning cocktail will also be featured in the annual Van Gogh Vodka recipe book, and J.A. will be the brand’s BARtist in residence for the year, with an opportunity to work with the brand at events and develop other creative uses for Van Gogh Vodkas.
To learn more about Van Gogh Vodka and the “Art of the Cocktail” competition, go to artistdaycocktails.com and vangoghvodka.com.
About Van Gogh Vodka
Award-winning Van Gogh Vodka is crafted in small batches by third generation Master Distiller Tim Vos at Distillery Cooymans International in Tilburg, Holland. The portfolio consists of 15 signature expressions: Van Gogh Vodka, Açai-Blueberry, Citroen, Cool Peach, Dutch Caramel, Dutch Chocolate, Double Espresso®, Espresso, Mango, Melon, Oranje, Pineapple, Pomegranate, Raspberry, Vanilla, and Wild Appel. For more information on Van Gogh, please visit us at vangoghvodka.com, find us on Facebook at facebook.com/VanGoghVodkas, on Twitter at twitter.com/VanGoghVodka, on Pinterest at pinterest.com/VanGoghVodka, and Instagram at instagram.com/VanGoghVodka.