After Hours at the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Seeking to infuse a bit of culture to my Friday night, I headed out to the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum for an after-hours celebration of the new Irving Penn exhibit thrown by Bright Young Things.  It was the first time I had attended an event in the stunning museum courtyard, the beauty of which was accentuated by well-placed ambient lighting.  If you have any excuse to attend an event there, take it immediately! The myth of DC as an gray fashion-less wasteland was laid to rest by all the elegantly glad attendants, whose chic attire reminded me, yet again, that I have no idea what I’m doing.

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DC’s cocktail scene was out in force with Zentan, Daikaya, the Riggsby, Tico, McClellan’s Retreat, Barmini, and Espita Mezcaleria participating.  The demand was heavy so I wasn’t able to get to all of them before supplies ran out, but I did snag some interesting drinks including the “Aviation” cocktail from Barmini, a mix of gin, lemon, crème de violette, and maraschino that yielded a good, slightly bitter taste with a nice citrus echo.  Zentan offered “Lillian Gish Lips” with rum, lime, vanilla shrub, tiki bitters, and coconut foam; this was actually very strong, lush, and challenging (I noticed some less veteran drinkers gave up half way through) but I liked its unique flavor.  I grabbed some good punches and a Mai Tai from (I believe) Daikaya, and stared at the remnants of Mclellan’s Retreat’s spooky, smoky drink.  I wasn’t able to grab newcomer Espita Mezcaleria’s “Espita Copita” but a friend praised it to the stars.

 

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I wasn’t that familiar with Mr. Penn’s work and don’t have much experience with photography as art, but I’m glad I took a hour after the drinks and revelry to tour the exhibit.  I was just struck by the ethereal, stark beauty of many of the shots, particularly his treatment of women sipping wine and children with herd animals.  It was really a treat, and I’d recommend novices give the exhibit a try.  A lively and enlightening evening!

 

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