Some call it the Golden Age.
For nearly 100 years beginning in the 1830s, in practically any big city in the world, those looking for a refreshment on a hot summer!s day could keep an eye out for a soda fountain. They were a
wonder to behold: enormous, elaborate machines, beckoning thirsty patrons with intoxicating possibilities.
And not only that: Some purveyors highlighted the potential healing powers of bubbly water, mixing it with fruits to enhance not only flavor, but also for health benefits.
Maestro Dobel Tequila, which created the world’s first Cristalino tequila, is trying a similar formula this week by exploring the vast world of rare and exotic Mexican fruits at Frieze New York at the Shed in a wonder not only for the taste buds, but also for the eyes. And to top things off, the ultra premium tequila brand has hired an anonymous Fruit Chemist to design and execute the best beverages with the smoothest tequila.
The whole project is part of the Maestro Dobel Artpothecary, a creative platform and series of immersive experiences that celebrate contemporary Mexican art and culture. Born from 11 generations of tequila-making legacy, Maestro Dobel leans on over two centuries of mastery to innovate through its portfolio of award-winning tequilas. Beyond activity at Frieze New York, Artpothecary will host art-world experts and artists alike to bring to life a series of events, experiences, and partnerships across the United States.
To get a sense of what’s in store for Frieze week specifically, we caught up with the anonymous Fruit Chemist ahead of the big project.
Tell us about the soda fountain tradition you‘re drawing from. What‘s the backstory? What about it appeals to you?
There’s a remarkable link between the history of soda and sculpture in New York. In the golden age of soda—from the 1830s to the 1920s—sodas were sold by chemists as tonics and cures. To carbonate water, you needed two things: marble and an acid. One of the most plentiful sources of marble was the offcuts from sculptures.
In fact, in New York in the early 19th century, during the building of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, there was enough leftover marble to supply the soda fountains of New York for years. These chips from the cathedral alone were said to have supplied some 25 million gallons of soda before the sculptors were finished with their work. The addition of fruits and other syrups into sodas turned them from a medicinal drink into refined refreshments.
How do you plan to reinvent that tradition this week?
At the Fruit Chemist at Frieze, we’ve adapted this tradition through the design of our bar: the chemist aesthetic is blended with traditional forms of Mexican architecture, while the history of soda in the city is found in the various marble fruits scattered in amongst real Mexican fruit.
We’ve brought this to life by creating a brilliant highball with Maestro Dobel, topped with a lime soda and Maradol papaya nectar, garnished with a slice of fresh Maradol papaya, weaving the world of Mexican fruit into the rich history of the soda fountain with Maestro Dobel Diamante at its core.
We assume you make lots of drinks. Say you could only make one for the rest of your life. What would it be, and how would you prepare it?
The Paloma is an underestimated cocktail and we revel in it. The best drinks are those you can make quickly and has exquisite tastes, and the Paloma is phenomenally effective on both fronts.
It’s a tall drink, comprised of just three ingredients: tequila, a little lime juice, and topped with grapefruit soda. The acidity of the lime and grapefruit really work with the strength of the tequila and, of course, the most important part of any cocktail—plenty of cold, fresh ice!
Okay, we‘re at Frieze New York and getting into an art-buying mood. What drink would you recommend to accompany that mood and why?
Ready yourself for Frieze with delicate gulps of the Sangrita Ritual.
Our take on the traditional pairing blends various fruit juices together with fresh Mexican lime and a spiced chili blend. This is served next to a generous serve of Maestro Dobel Diamante over ice. The ritual is simple and trembles with excitement: take a sip from one glass, and then the other, and repeat! The rich fruit juice cuts through with that bite of chili blending with the ever smooth, crisp tequila, and really accents the wicked depth of flavor in Maestro Dobel.
Great! Now I‘ve got my drink in hand. What kind of fruit pairing would go best with it?
We’ve paired the Sangrita Ritual with a slice of fresh pitaya. This show-stopping fruit is crisp and refreshing, and the shock of pink skin against the pure white flesh. The crisp taste of the pitaya gives you a refreshing palate cleanse to cap off your pairing ritual.
Now we‘re back home with our artwork, which we‘ve just installed right above the fireplace, and we want to throw a party to celebrate. What one drink should we make sure our guests have, and why?
Flock to the penthouse of flavor for an elevated margarita. Everyone likes their margaritas a tad different, and the possibilities are endless. Why not set up a margarita bar and help your guests explore the options?
It will be varied. You can’t go wrong so long as you have a great base tequila like Maestro Dobel and plenty of fresh citrus. It makes a great talking point as everyone compares their takes on the classic. With good art and lively friends, looking on what you have done, you will feel yourself almost immortal.
And why is Maestro Dobel the only tequila brand you‘d use in these drinks?
The smoothness of Maestro Dobel Diamante, the first Cristalino tequila, is a sensual and luxurious base for any drink. Drink it neat, and the sweet notes of the tequila are a riot, while in a cocktail it acts as the robust base, strong and stable, without elbowing for attention.