When you think of paying a visit to a museum, your main goal is usually for the cultural education. But these days, it seems like most museums are upping their marketing game and offering a night of themed libations and enlightening explorations just for adults.
“We realized there was an audience of young professionals looking for a different way to socialize,” says Kelly Mendez, a communications associate at the California Academy of Sciences. “The people who come here are choosing to enjoy a cocktail in a science museum rather than a bar.” It’s not like museums have ever been outposts of the temperance society. What do you think was stored in those Greek amphorae or what helped inspire French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec? We scanned the calendars of art, science and history museums around the globe to find some of the best cultural cocktail events on the horizon.
The Brunel Museum, London
The museum’s rooftop garden, Midnight Apothecary, is the setting for some of the hottest pop-up parties in London. Garden designer and mixologist Lottie Muir (aka the Cocktail Gardener) creates botanically themed cocktails that taste especially good at midnight in an English garden. For Valentine’s Day, she and BBC MasterChef winner Julie Friend will create a three-course dinner (imagine ingredients such as ruby red beets, Moroccan spices and dark chocolate) paired with cocktails such as Dare to Pair (sauvignon blanc, Cointreau, blood oranges, kumquats and mint, topped with soda) or the Tequila Pillow (Reposado tequila, Cointreau, rose hip and crab apple tea, sugar syrup and lemon juice with a St. Germain elderflower liqueur foam). To top it all off, your meal will follow with petits fours, housemade marshmallows and sparklers around the fire pit in the garden.
Witte Museum San Antonio, TX
Cocktails & Culture: The Witte Uncorked has been luring San Antonians to the Witte Museum for evenings filled with spirits and a sneak peek at upcoming exhibits since 2011. The most popular event to date was “Darwin After Dark,” in conjunction with the museum’s Darwin exhibit — it was at the event when the museum was filled with tropical greenery and a pair of 100-year-old tortoises served as special guests. On February 27, “Robot Wars” will highlight a new exhibit, Alien Worlds and Androids, which explores how artificial intelligence, cyborgs and space robots from the movies are present in everyday life. The drink of choice? Cosmo-politans, of course.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the premier art museums in the country, able to draw visitors with a stunning collection of Impressionists such as Paul Cézanne and Vincent Van Gogh, sculptures and Asian art. But the museum ups the ante every Friday with Art After 5, complete with live music, cocktails and a chance to enjoy Salvador Dalí, Constantin Brâncuși and Pablo Picasso sans kids. On February 21, tenor saxophonist David Sánchez will woo the crowd with smooth sounds, and February 28 welcomes jazz singer Joanna Pascale. For both events, enjoy the music as well as libations and light bites along the lines of sandwiches, salads, cheese and fruit.
Adler Planetarium, Chicago
As a grade-schooler, I loved field trips to Chicago’s Adler Planetarium to see the shows on the nighttime sky. The third Thursday of every month, dubbed Adler After Dark, is when you’ll find a crowd here for the chance to peer through the city’s largest telescope at the Doane Observatory while sipping science-themed cocktails. For “Star-Crossed” on February 20, you will see scenes from the Peter Pan prequel Peter and the Starcatcher and explore what happens when Valentine’s Day treats such as chocolates and roses get a dip in liquid nitrogen.
California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco
Each week, Shane McKnight, the dedicated mixologist for the California Academy of Sciences, shakes up a special cocktail to fit the theme of the Thursday night event, NightLife. For its “Bacon Wrapped” event, McKnight made bacon bloody Marys and the Academy presented a planetarium show starring animal-themed constellations, as well as scientific illustrations of how pigs have evolved throughout the years. This month, topics will cover everything from the science behind cravings on February 13 (complete with a pop-up beer garden) to the art behind rhythm and sound (with tunes from Noise Pop) on February 20.
Photos Courtesy of Tim Griffith, The Witte Museum and Adler Planetarium