A Good Mixer

A Good Mixer combines Thomas March’s poems with 33 cocktail paintings by Valerie Mendelson. These 33 “cocktail portraits”, their number honoring the year Prohibition ended, are based on obscure recipes from the original bartender’s guide. Each painting represents a character by depicting that person’s cocktail mid-consumption; to enhance these characterizations, we’ve chosen cocktails whose names already evoke a human personality—e.g., “Sadie’s Flip”, “Yankee Boy”, “Astoria Queen”, and “Sandy Collins.” Accompanying each portrait are two poems, written from the point of view of the cocktail’s drinker; one poem expresses the drinker’s internal experience, while the other conveys the personality the drinker presents to others. Each poetry-and-painting combination embodies the tension that exists between the public manifestation of convivial enjoyment and the private experience that one brings to—and has of—a party. By visually representing characters only as the cocktail of their choice, the project reflects the isolation that exists even as one connects with others. Taken together as an imaginary cocktail party, the 33 pairings in A Good Mixer invite readers and viewers to reflect on how any “mixer” is simultaneously a shared experience and a set of private experiences only briefly or incompletely accessible to others.


Interview with Thomas March in Negative Capability: