When it comes to drinking - or drugs for that matter - I have always been an outsider. It is not always so much fun. I have no issues with everyone else drinking. I am sure many drink enough to have me covered. It is just if you don’t drink, you are always in the minority. For New Years I often resolve to drink more (ie: at all). No disrespect to people who struggle with addiction…I have just struggled my whole life with NOT drinking. Not having an addictive personality means habits - even good ones - are hard to form.
When I got a note from Nir Kossovsky (Steel City Re) about a concept he had for a cocktail book, I thought, “Well, he won’t have to worry about the photographer drinking up all the product!” Nir wanted to illustrate his business ideas around reputations and strategies through cocktail recipes and images. Nir didn’t care that I don’t drink, or ever really photographed a cocktail. He just wanted to see what I could do.
I set aside some nights in my studio to do the work. I wanted to project the recipes onto the drinks, so I contacted a young designer in Boston, Tarin Karimbux - and shared a bunch of type treatments I loved for inspiration. The War Against Drugs’ new album had just dropped and I put that on… LOUD. I grabbed a bunch of prints, I set up a projector and started putting some shots together. Sean Enright, mixologist extraordinaire came across the street from Spork, balancing cocktails and some props through the traffic. I just played. The more of a mess I made, the happier I was. Ice melting, drinks spilling, finger prints… I didn’t want anything perfect. Most food and drink photos aim for perfection and achieve it. I knew that if I aimed for perfection, the photos would be not be mine, so I embraced all the imperfection.
The title song, “I Don’t Live Here Anymore,” kept getting LOUDER… Tarin was sending me files in real time that I immediately projected and he tweaked them when they needed tweaking and sent them right back. It was all very alive and HAPPENING and it was so much fun. Sean lit a rosemary sprig in a drink on fire. I found some images of break dancers from Boulder that made their way in, some pieces of images I found on social media, Miles Davis came by, so did Tom Waits. Stephie had created collages with some of my best known images; she obscured the identities and in the process, made the photos her own and so new. Those images became part of the project. My favorite of all being the shot of Coolio with the yellow heart.
The book is not for sale. Less than 2,000 copies were printed. If I was ever going to drink it would have been on this project.
Pass the Mocktail, Sean
"George, write your own ticket!" - Nir Kossovsky
Book credits: Jonathan Salem Baskin (author), Sean Enright (cocktail consultant), Max Miller (spirits consultant), and Sara Lynn Ruth (designer)