When Hunter and Cathy Allen donated the 1920s through 1940s prints now on view in our exhibition America Seen, they knew that the works would inspire research, education, and insight. But they might never have expected that their collection would inspire the Ackland’s first annual ARTINI.
We knew right away that we wanted to host a celebration of the period covered by the prints—an incredibly turbulent and colorful time in our nation’s history that included the Roaring Twenties, Prohibition, the Stock Market Crash, the Great Depression, and the New Deal, to name a few landmark trends, “scenes,” and events.
Such a party called for signature drinks—ones with period ingredients and each with a unique taste from the era. We sought out a few of Chapel Hill’s best bartenders, to see if they would be interested in creating a cocktail that “spoke” to America Seen. Needless to say, we were met with enthusiasm. Each bar—The Crunkleton, JuJuBe, Roberts Lounge at the Franklin Hotel, Sugarland, and Top of the Hill—embraced our mixologist/artistic challenge and succeeded in capturing this incredible era of American history in a drink.
Case in point: “The Hatchetation,” the signature drink that the Franklin Hotel will offer at Friday night’s ARTINI. Jay Patel, the Franklin Hotel’s owner, and Bryan Plummer, the hotel’s bartender at their Roberts Lounge, came up with the drink in honor of Carrie Nation, the famous crusader for prohibition. As a radical member of the temperance movement, Nation would enter saloons and bars and destroy the furniture, fixtures, and bar stock with a hatchet while singing and praying. She was arrested 30 times in a span of 10 years for her “hatchetations,” but routinely paid her own bail with the public speaking fees that she earned and through the sale of souvenir hatchets.
Bryan shared this story with me as he expertly mixed the original cocktail—Bulleit rye whiskey, Blenheim’s Extra Spicy Ginger Beer, fresh lemon, a dash of Fee Brothers Plum Bitters, and an orange rind—letting me know that it took more than an hour’s worth of tinkering with ingredients, and a serious ginger beer and ginger ale tasting, before they got it just right.
And boy, they got it right, as did all the bars participating in ARTINI when they made their signature cocktails.
Come to ARTINI this Friday night and have your own “Hatchetation” at the Franklin Hotel table, as well as signature drinks from The Crunkleton, JuJuBe, Sugarland, and Top of the Hill. Not only can you taste these drinks, but you will be able to leave with the recipes so that you can enjoy your new favorites at your next party! You’ll also be able to try your hand at period card games such as whist and pinochle, and hear live jazz and blues performed by Tea Cup Gin.
Tickets—$45 each for Ackland Members and $50 for non-members—are still available at the Ackland Museum Store. Get yours before we run dry!
Brandon Foster is Development Strategist at the Ackland Art Museum.
Image: Howard Baer, American, 1907-1986: Gladys (detail), 1933; lithograph. Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina, The Hunter and Cathy Allen Collection, 2013.21.2.