Creative Time’s Spring Gala Cocktails

An edible Negroni, bottled Lido iced tea and a beachy drink atop almond dust and ground coconut 'sand'

Whether or not you’re familiar with public art nonprofit organization Creative Time, you’ve likely heard of their large-scale commissions. Recently, these have included Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety” at Brooklyn’s Domino Sugar Factory and Nick Cave’s Grand Central Station takeover “HEARD•NY.” Next up, artist Duke Riley will take over the skies with the surreal “Fly By Night“—wherein the artist will orchestrate choreographed swirls and swoops by a vast flock of pigeons around NYC’s East River during the weekends from 7 May through 12 June. These are just a few standout concepts in Creative Time’s four decades of making immersive art available to the public. Their work for the people of NYC is important and last night, artists, supporters and collectors united for the organization’s annual Spring Gala to honor artists Craig Robins and Rirkrit Tiravanija.

Occupying a massive facility at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the Creative Time Spring Gala honored artist Robins for his years of public art creation, his support of arts education and the works he has contributed to the Miami Design District. Further, the event celebrated the imaginative creations of artist Tiravanija. These two individuals inspired the event’s Miami Beach theme—and even the cocktails therein fit the bill. Presented by Bombay Sapphire, the drinks were created to be as artistic and clever as the works in the room. And from edible napkins affixed to edible Negroni shot glasses to a cotton candy garnish, they were. This is not the first time we were impressed by the cocktails at a Creative Time event. At their 2014 Fall Ball, they went molecular with vodka. This year, however, Bombay Sapphire Global Brand Ambassador Gary Hayward went conceptual. A cocktail hour lent guests a first impression of the event and while they get complex, we grabbed hold of the recipes (both core components and flourishes) so people can make them at home.

South Beach

“This is my first time with an event of this magnitude,” Hayward explains to CH. “We normally make drinks that are consumer friendly and easy to replicate at home. This time I was asked to go as far as I possibly could.” Hayward went beyond tapping the flavors of Miami but with the South Beach—a wild variation of a gin martini—he deconstructed some elements. There is an edible sand base in a lower glass, and the drink itself resting above in a stemless martini glass. Rather than provide a break down of the components, it’s much easier to explain how the drink is made.

For the edible beach sand, Hayward combined equal portions of almond dust and fine ground coconut, blending them evenly throughout and garnishing with edible seashell candies. For the ocean portion of the cocktail, Hayward infused the gin in advance with nori for an umami essence (for making one yourself, we recommend one oz of Bombay Sapphire per cocktail). He then added a drop each of freshly cut grass essence and saline. There’s also an equal portion of coconut and mango oil (which he colored blue). Further, Hayward adds a dash of luster dust to give the liquid some luminescence. These components must be stirred thoroughly so that they blend fully. More than a cloud-like garnish, grapefruit-infused cotton candy (which also has a dash of white pepper) is then integrated into the cocktail by way of “rain.” The rain itself is an ounce of Bombay Sapphire and an ounce of coconut water. This allows the cotton candy to dissolve. Everything is then stirred and finalized with a spritz of edible floral perfume.

Lido Iced Tea

Hayward’s next recipe is far easier to construct at home. A vibrant, sweet and refreshing drink, the Lido Iced Tea makes for an ideal summer beach drink. “I like the fact that this is kitsch,” Hayward says. “Bottled cocktails are a real thing at the moment. This is simple, but fresh and bright with the hibiscus and cucumber and lemon.”

1.5 oz Bombay Sapphire gin

.75 oz fresh lemon juice

1 oz hibiscus tea

.25 oz simple syrup

.5 oz cucumber juice

.5 oz St-Germain Elderflower liqueur

Stir with ice and serve in a bottle

Edible Negroni

While the Negroni portion of this cocktail is not challenging to make, everything that accompanies it is. We’ve outlined the three simple Negroni components below but we’ll allow Hayward to explain the rest.

1 oz Bombay Sapphire gin

1 oz Campari

1 oz Martini Rosso

Stir all components and serve in an edible glass

Hayward constructed an edible drinking vessel from Negroni-flavored agar (derived from algae). “I also made an edible napkin using sugar paper,” he begins. “I put food coloring in a printer and was able to print the brands on the napkin. I then washed it and flavored it with Negroni.” He continues, “I took unrefined coconut oil and cooked it for an hour with the ingredients found in a Negroni. I took extracts to replicate the flavor profile of Campari, including orange and quinine.” One can buy sugar paper and do the exact same. Before serving, Hayward smoked the cocktail under a bell glass with applewood that had also been soaked in Negroni for seven days. Exceptionally fun, Hayward’s experiment demonstrates the great lengths Negroni lovers can go to further their cocktails.

Last image courtesy of BFA, all other images by David Graver