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Corcoran art inspires cocktails at sixth annual 'Artini'

Monday - 3/25/2013, 10:12pm  ET

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Joe Ambrose from P.O.V. won the Artini popular vote for the second year in a row for his cocktail. (WTOP/Hoai-Tran Bui)

Hoai-Tran Bui, special to wtop.com

WASHINGTON - The Corcoran Gallery of Art was bathed in multicolored lights and bedecked in cocktail bars for its sixth annual "Artini" event Friday.

The fundraiser, co-sponsored by the 1869 Society, featured bartenders from eight D.C. restaurants, who each concocted special cocktails inspired by a work of art from Corcoran's collection.

"We all sort of push the boundaries," says Zentan cocktail artist Josh Berner. "Some bartenders are more focused on mixing specific spirits, and there are some like me who are more focused on creating flavors from scratch."

The event's mixologists included Eddie Kim from Daikaya, Frank Jones from The Gibson, Taha Ismail from Bandolero, Alex Bookless from The Passenger, Joe Ambrose from P.O.V. at the W. Hotel, Amy Russell from Jack Rose Dining Saloon and Milton Hernandez from Ambar. The eight cocktail artists competed for the popular vote, as determined by a poll on the "Washingtonian," and the prize of Critics' Choice.

The winner for the popular vote for the second year in a row was Joe Ambrose from P.O.V., whose signature cocktail "First Impressions" was inspired by the Pierre-Auguste Renoir painting "View From Cap Martin of Monte Carlo."

The Critics Choice winner was The Gibson's Frank Jones for his colorful mixture "A Moor's Code," inspired by artwork "The Head of Moor." The cocktail was not the only thing inspired by the painting -- Jones himself was dressed in a long, makeshift tunic to imitate the subject of the painting.

Jones, who graduated from the Corcoran College of Art + Design in 2005, appreciated the win.

"I wanted to win because I went to this school," Jones says. "So it means a lot to have gone here and to win the competition as well."

Ticket sales helped fund the "Now at the Corcoran" art program at Corcoran, a new series of art exhibits and performance art by emerging artists, according to Major Gifts Officer Liz Mixer.

"It's really accessible to a lot of younger artists finding their voice," Mixer says.