Fine art and cocktails go hand in hand, and a new Atlanta distillery is taking the idea further by bringing them together at the Modern Art Distillery (DoMA).
Part gallery, part distillery, and part cocktail bar recently opened in Chamblee, and the founder Seth Watson joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to discuss her new venture.
A passion for hunting unique spirits:
I was at the University of Florida, and like all the other college kids who hung out in bars, I drank a lot of beer,” Watson recalled. “What I realized was that I was spending so much time just going to the toilet because of the volume of liquid I was taking in. And I realized early on; I said, ‘I have to get away from beer. Makes me feel heavy… I’m going to switch to spirits, just a bit on a whim… You start to be able to appreciate the small amount you drink, and I started looking for nuances.
“There’s a world of difference in alcohol, it would be stupid of me to stop at one thing and say, ‘Okay, I love this. I’m sticking to this. I’m I went hunting for more than 10 years, 15 years, in search of unique spirits. I settled down quite early in whiskey. I was very attracted by the idea of an aged product, having to physically manufacture something thing and wait years to see if it’s going to be good, so I started to dive deep into whiskey, which I would say remains my real passion, with gin coming in second.
Transforming a tasting experience into an art banquet for all the senses:
“I saw an opportunity to do something on a higher basis that took what I was passionate about — being spirits, hospitality and art — and trying to merge those pieces together,” Watson said. “Being so involved with artists throughout my career, I saw a hole in the support for local art. A lot of these situations where local artists get involved or artists from around the world, it’s still a financial transaction scenario. And what I desperately wanted to do was give back to a community of artists that had supported me in my business for so long with ideas and collaborations.
“I had spent some time developing recipes, and I was able to take those samples, meet a plethora of artists, and say, ‘Okay, here’s that spirit. Give it a try, and then I want you to create an abstract piece of art that represents that spirit in the bottle,” Watson said. “Since it’s abstract, we can cut it out and use it inside our labels. So the back of our label, which gives that great pop of color, is also a really cool juxtaposition. As a bottle of brown liquor runs out, more and more of these works of art are revealed. So not only are we going to expose local artists to the masses, but we’re also creating this very cool and unique look inside our bottles.
How the distillery offers artists and tasters a richer gallery experience:
“As we expand our product line, we’re engaging with more local artists to design cool and very interesting new artwork to go along with that spirit. The gallery we have is something something that changes every two months. We pair two local artists who complement each other in the gallery space. We don’t charge any commission for them to be there. They can sell their art. It attracts a really awesome community of very different types of people, and why not be able to sell cocktails while that’s happening?….one reason to come back to the distillery is to see something very different and then try something very different when you are there.
The new modern art distillery is now open in Chamblee at 2197 Irvindale Dr. and is currently displaying works by Dexter Vines and Georges Jeanty. More information is available at https://distilleryofmodernart.com/.