Miró Quartet and Jorge Caballero

A toast to exceptional musicians with namesake drinks in hand

It's 5 o'clock somewhere: The Miró is ready to get their drink on.
It's 5 o'clock somewhere: The Miró is ready to get their drink on. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Rusell)

Classic cocktails are all the rage, but are you ready for classical cocktails? That's what the Austin Classical Guitar Society will be pouring this weekend along with a return pairing of the Miró Quartet and guitarist Jorge Caballero. Since more and more theatre and dance productions have been incorporating adult libations into the artistic experience of late ("All Over Creation: Senses and Sensibilities," July 19), ACGS Artistic Director Matt Hinsley didn't want classical music left behind. So when he was able to bring Caballero and the Miró back together – they'd shared the stage last October in the ACGS spectacular, Austin Pictures – something about the bill seemed right for an infusion of spirits. (Well, Austin's world-class string ensemble and this Peruvian wizard of the six-string do make an intoxicating mix ...) Hinsley's idea? To have an Austin mixologist create a craft cocktail for each of the five musicians and make them available to the audience at the concert.

To develop the drinks, he turned to Bill Norris of the Alamo Drafthouse (and its offshoots the HighBall, 400 Rabbits, and Midnight Cowboy,) a beverage specialist whose bartending bona fides include being voted Best Mixologist in the Chronicle's "Best of Austin" Readers Poll for the past three years. Norris had already collaborated with Hinsley on ACGS' screening of the cult silent film The Unknown with an original score by Les Frères Méduses, choosing wines to go with the story of an armless knife thrower who plays the guitar with his feet. By comparison, it must have been a breeze to concoct a quintet of cocktails, especially since each musician suggested the basics for his drink.

For the Daniel, Miró violinist Daniel Ching wanted a whiskey sour with a little layer of foamy egg white on top. New member Will Fedkenheuer asked for the Will to be based on the caipirinha, that national cocktail of Brazil, mixing the sugarcane rum cachaça, sugar, and lime. For the Josh, cellist Joshua Gindele opted for the classic French 75, a blend of Champagne, gin, and lemon juice, while violist John Largess requested the John mix gin and Italian lemon soda, with a thyme sprig garnish. As for the Jorge? Well, life has to have some surprises, eh?

You may discover the joys of these juicy creations at the concert this Saturday, Aug. 4, beginning 90 minutes before the 7:30pm curtain. And since they will also be available during intermission and after the concert – when you can actually hoist a few with the cocktails' namesakes – you might well have time to sample all five concoctions.

But please, come for the alcohol and stay for the music. If you've never heard either ensemble or soloist, you're in for some exquisite music-making. The Miró kick things off with the classical equivalent of a French 75 (albeit one mixed in Austria), Mozart, playing his String Quartet in E-Flat Major, a work that in Ching's opinion, "has a mysterious and searching quality to it, but it's also very lyrical." (The group will be playing Mozart publicly for its first String Quartet since Fedkenheuer signed on as second violin last year.) That's followed by the Campari with a gin chaser of Paganini – specifically his Viola Quartet No. 15, a typically high-spirited piece with especially virtuosic parts for the guitar and viola. Caballero opens up some fine, aged single-malt Scotch with a solo Bach Partita, then the evening closes with a limoncello martini: the Guitar Quintet by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.

What's not to like about an evening that pulls together such exceptional music with exceptional libations? The only thing that will be difficult is figuring out which makes you feel more giddy.

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Miró Quartet and Jorge Caballero, Austin Classical Guitar Society, Matt Hinsley, Bill Norris, Alamo Drafthouse, The Unknown

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