Art and the Cocktail
This course is taught in conjunction with Bjorklunden’s Door Kinetic Arts Festival and will include live presentations of dance, theatre and film from nationally renowned artists. The festival, which is in its third season, is designed to expand the range of artistic expressions across different mediums. This course is meant to be a complement to the festival.
It wasn’t long after the first cocktail was created--somewhere in the United States sometime in the early 1800s--that the distinctly American invention and the theater met as friends. Actors have historically been great tipplers, as have playwrights, who have honored their favored elixirs by featuring cocktails, spirits and bars prominently in their works, therefore perpetuating drinking’s role in society. With the dawn of the cinema, the same pattern was perpetuated by screenwriters. Eric Simonson, the Oscar-winning and Tony-nominated filmmaker, playwright and director, and his brother, Robert Simonson, drinks reporter for The New York Times and author of several cocktail books, will examine the symbiotic relationship between alcohol and the arts. This diverting and amusing class will divide its time between plays, films, cocktail demonstrations and maybe even a field trip. (We’re not saying we might go to a bar, but…)
Eric Simonson ’82 is a writer/director for film, television, theater, and opera. Recent films include the documentary, Studs Terkel: Listening to America (Emmy nomination); A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin, which won the Oscar for Documentary Short and received a nomination from the International Documentary Association (IDA) for Distinguished Achievement; On Tiptoe: Gentle Steps to Freedom (Oscar nomination, IDA Award, Emmy nomination). All three films subsequently aired on HBO/Cinemax. Other films include Hamlet (co-directed with Campbell Scott) for Hallmark Entertainment, and Killing Reagan for Scott Free Entertainment and National Geographic. Simonson has also written and developed multiple television series for HBO, FX, Starz, TNT, and USA networks. He is currently writing for the Amazon series The Man in the High Castle. Broadway writing credits include the hit play Lombardi, Magic/Bird, and Bronx Bombers, which he also directed.
Robert Simonson writes about cocktails, sprits, bars and bartenders for The New York Times. He is the author of the books The Old-Fashioned, A Proper Drink and the recent 3-Ingredient Cocktails. His writings have also appeared in Imbibe, Whiskey Advocate, Food & Wine, Saveur, Lucky Peach and Punch, where he is a contributing editor. He is the co-author of the cocktail app Modern Classics of the Cocktail Renaissance. He lives in Brooklyn.