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City That Drinks

Gallery Drinking Guide

An art critic’s tips to drinkers . . . and galleries

Photo: Baynard Woods, License: N/A

Baynard Woods


People go to art openings to drink as much as to see art. Because, in reality, a crowded, sweaty (or freezing) room where you see a bunch of people you know is not the optimal environment for aesthetic contemplation. It is, however, the optimal environment for quaffing a half a dozen Bohs—or a few glasses of wine, for the more sophisticated among us. We go to a lot of these things and have learned a few pointers along the way. Even though it is not a bar, you should still tip the friend of the artist or gallery who is serving the drinks (if there is someone serving them and they aren’t just in a cooler or something). They’re not charging you more than $2 a pop, so just as if it were a bar, leave them a buck every time they get you something. If you really, really want to be economical about it, bring a flask. You should still buy a round or two, but when you’re off the in corner chatting with your friends, take a swig from the flask and pass it around. It helps out with the whole communal vibe. Of course, this does not apply if you are at an opening at a bar. You should be thankful that the bar is hosting artwork, and you should give them your money. If you drink from a flask at a bar, you are a dick. If you want hard liquor, buy it. And tip. The most important rule: Never drink so much at an opening that you puke on the art. Never. If you start to feel yourself spinning, get as far from the gallery as you can without getting behind the wheel. Now, as for the galleries: You know, with fall coming on, you could do something a little more spiffy than warm Boh. How about a Sazerac? It’s a classic cocktail made of rye whiskey, absinthe, Peychaud’s Bitters, and sugar. Rye is the perfect autumnal drink, and absinthe, the mythical elixir of Belle Epoche artists, is legal again. But it sounds better than it really is and, in the Sazerac, there is no more than a hint—you just coat the glass with it. You get all the clout of the absinthe but the pure pleasure of rye. Charge a few bucks—and hell, somebody might be inspired to buy a piece of art because of it.

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