Inspired by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s new exhibit “What Absence Is Made Of,” a menu of the same name will debut at the Shaw drinking den Tuesday, October 17 (the exhibit opens the following day across town).
Offered in three- and five-course variations, each dish and drink gets the modern art treatment — think: a cocktail brewed in a weighted coffee siphon as an ode to German artist Hans Haacke’s captivating “condensation cube” — and plays on the ideas of “absence, memory, nostalgia, and change” featured across the Hishhorn’s collection.
“The exhibition contains so many intriguing ideas and offered us a real challenge in putting together a thematic menu that had no explicit connection to ingredients or flavors. It's not as if we could make a series of drinks that tasted like nothing,” says Columbia Room beverage director JP Fetherston.
Columbia Room this summer took home the coveted title of “Best American Cocktail Bar” at the 2017 Spirited Awards during Tales of the Cocktail.
One pick off the new menu is a colorless clarity cocktail, meant to conjure images of a museum section dubbed “Close to Nothing.” The drink is composed of rum, cachaça, Capitoline white vermouth, autumn squash, maple, lemon, balsam, and milk.
This year, the New York Times chronicled some top restaurants housed inside museums that consider exhibits a muse for their menus.
Columbia Room, a 10-minute drive north from the Hirshhorn, will offer its companion menu through early 2018 by reservation only.
The Hirshorn exhibit is projected to remain on display through next summer.