Modern alchemy at Philbrook's MIX — Saturday, August 19th at Cain's Ballroom.
Bartenders are the alchemists of the 21st century, experimenting with herbs, flowers, and tinctures to create powerful, intoxicating elixirs. There's even a "golden ratio" for mixing drinks – two parts liquor, one part sweetener, and one part sour. Alchemists of antiquity believed all things were a combination of mercury (wisdom), sulfur (desire), and salt (inertia).
At the intersection of art and science, with equal parts instinct and skill, both the bartender and alchemist are obsessed with refining raw materials into substance. Or, as the alchemical maxim goes: Our gold is not the common gold.
In Tulsa, there is no better place for the everyman to test the potions of local bartenders than MIX, Philbrook Museum of Art's annual fundraiser and cocktail competition, on August 19 at Cain's Ballroom.
There are two types of alchemy and they parallel bartending philosophies: the first simply wants to understand the world – this is the basis for modern natural science – and the second strives for greater wonder, aesthetics, and ritual, like a magical crystal or philosopher's stone.
The 16 bartenders competing at MIX 2017 fall in the latter category. With muddlers and strainers, corkscrews and shakers – the modern instruments of magic—they conjure ardent spirits that transcend perfection into something through which perfection can be achieved. Their portraits, or "hero shots," by photographers Jeremy Charles and Melissa Lukenbaugh appear in the following pages.
Ahead of the event, MIX bartenders are fortuitously assigned a spirit with which they will compete. This year, liquor sponsors include Pruf Vodka, Broker's London Dry Gin, Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Gold Rum, Redemption Rye Whiskey, and Tekiller Tequila.