Anatomy of a Drink: The Cubist Cocktail

How art and landscape inspired a Sweden-based bartender for his Bacardí Legacy entry.

photo courtesy Andy Watson-Calderon

photo courtesy Andy Watson-Calderon

Being a good bartender requires equal parts charm and hospitality, with perhaps a willingness to offer some amateur therapy from time to time. Creativity is also a major ingredient in successful bartending, and competitions such as Diageo Reserve World Class and Bacardí Legacy are well respected showcases for those talents, awarding contestants with meaningful chapters in their career, and a lasting mark on the beverage industry. Australian-born bartender Andy Watson-Calderon moved to Sweden for a change of scene and new drink inspirations. His new location in the small town of Norrköping, three hours south of Stockholm, where he now runs the Lagerqvist Cocktail Club, brought welcome challenges in relating to a new audience, and inspiration for his part in the Global Bacardí Legacy competition (in partnership with the Cubist cocktail.

“I knew that in order to create a classic cocktail I had to first capture my small market. In order to do so, I wanted to create a cocktail that was approachable, sessionable and above all else challenging for the consumer,” says Watson-Calderon. “The inspiration, for me, came when I saw the need for bartenders to offer an international approach to the industry and reject the simple act of succumbing to standard vodka Redbulls… My city is developing and the consumers have begun to branch out their horizons. This offers me the opportunity to encourage a shift in drinking culture, something I am more than happy to oblige… As the city grows and develops, I aim to be right there with it, helping in any way possible.”

Explaining Cubism is not an easy task—doing so may cause rearrangement of the synapses much as the details reposition across the canvas—but Watson-Calderon gives it a go: “My cocktail, Cubist, is an analytical approach to cocktail enjoyment. It centers on the premise of fragmentation and the art of perspective. The Cubist movement was shaped on the radical idea of distorting an image based on experiencing said image through a series of intervaled perspective takes. For me, this was quite interesting, as we all share single events that are experienced on personal wavelengths.”

This philosophy can be interpreted in how we approach the sensory aspect of cocktail drinking. “No one single moment is enjoyed the same way by different people, instead, we apply our own experiences, knowledge and preconceived ideals into the progression of said event. In creating the cocktail, I wanted to create a modern classic that was easily replicable all around the world yet complex enough in flavour that it offered each individual a unique experience, much like Cubistic art.”

What’s the relationship between that and Puerto Rican rum? “Cubist art was so radical in its conception that it altered art history forever,” explains Watson-Calderon. “It spawned a wave of expressionism, this was so relevant to the origin story of Bacardí rum. It took one radical idea from Don Facundo Bacardí to isolate a single strain of yeast, which resulted in the birth of the rum industry [and cocktails] we know it today.”

What makes a cocktail “Cubist”? “When I have to think about the flavours, glassware or garnish, if I need to take time to process and understand the inclusion of an element in a drink, then I believe a level of deeper understanding has gone into the crafting of the drink. One does not need to love every drink one tries, however, much like art, if it leaves you discussing it hours, days or weeks later, then the art won. It has forced you to interact with it in one form or another. We should all strive to apply forms of Cubism into our daily lives.” Follow Andy on Instagram at @cubist_cocktail #CubistCocktail #BacardiLegacy

Also congratulations to American finalists Melina Meza of Broken Shaker, Los Angeles, CA and Will Isaza of Blossom Bar, Brookline, MA and all the competitors who have made it this far!

Cubist Cocktail

photo courtesy Andy Watson-Calderon

photo courtesy Andy Watson-Calderon

“Cubist highlights the drier and fruitier notes of Bacardí Carta Blanca in a unique and subtle manner. The cocktail is complex in its delivery as a result of the pastis, yet sessionable due to the effervescent nature of it. It compiles a familiar and yet intriguing contrast of sour and sweetness that rounds the cocktail off with a wonderful mouth feel.”

Shake all ingredients except Prosecco with ice until well chilled. Strain into chilled flute glass. Top with Prosecco. Garnish.

To read about Legacy bartender Jenna Hemsworth and her work with the Monarch Legacy Project, please click here.