Matt Talbert ‘The Old Fashioned Artist’ Exhibits at Neat Bar

By Lanee Lee

What happens when you mix a master mixologist, a bar tycoon, a painter and a four hundred year old spirit?  You get an unconventional art opening filled with kopstootje shots, vintage cocktails and a party like it’s 1599.

Matt Talbert, with keen skills in capturing classic cocktails and bar scenes with his brush, had his debut Los Angeles art show in no better place than Aidan Demarest’s Neat Bar.

Marcos Tello, co-creator of the 1886 cocktail menu of the Raymond Hotel, held ongoing Bols Genever ‘Kopstootje’ lessons in the back of Neat Bar, teaching people the technique behind the amalgamation of a 17th century English + Dutch  shot.

To do a proper Kopstootje or The Little Head-Butt, fill a tulip-shaped glass to the brim of Bols Genever. Next, have a glass of beer near by. When someone shouts, “Prost!” a sip of Bols Genever with no hands followed by a gulp of beer completes the lesson.

Here’s a little ditty if you still need further Kopstootje instruction:

Kopstootje (pronounced cop-stow-the)

Scoot to the edge of the bar.
Bend from the waist down to sip from the tulip glass.
Look a little Silly? Perfect.
Sip up. Take a sip of your beer.
Now introduce your new friend to a stranger.

Bols Genever, made in Amsterdam in 1575, is the granddaddy of spirits that predated the invention of gin or whisky, thus garnering the Bols Genever nickname as the World’s Most Authentic Spirit. Marco Tello explained how he likes to use the spirit made of corn, rye and wheat, infused with botanicals, “I love using it as a base in punches, like the English used to do.”

Tello created two Bols Genever punches for Matt Talbert’s art opening: Flowing Bols of raspberry, maraschino cherry, pineapple and lemon and the Dutch Republic of nutmeg, sherry and fresh lime juice. Both bowls emptied rapidly through the night.

When the punch ran out, head bartender Arash Pakzad at Neat Bar kept the classic cocktail theme going, putting as much care and precision into making my Sazarac as a sushi chef would an omakase meal.

With Sazarac in hand, I went to study Matt Talbert’s traditional still life techniques with a modern subject. Talbert’s ability to capture not only how the light bounces off the glass or a shaker but also the convivial mood of bar-goers was, simply put, intoxicating.

Among the paintings of the makings of a Aviation cocktail or a forlorn empty glass with only a bitter cube remaining, was a portrait of none other than L.A.’s bar tycoon Aidan Demarest.

I asked him how he felt to see himself in a painting. He said with a grin, “It’s eerie seeing yourself up on a wall, like I’m at my own funeral, but at least it’s a fun wake.”

Talbert, a big fan of Bols Genever himself, says, “One of my favorite drinks is the Bols Fashioned, where the whiskey of the Old Fashioned is switched out with Bols Genever.”

Evident in his artwork, Matt Talbert is marrying his two passions of creating artful cocktails both on the canvas and at home.

Neat Bar 1114 N Pacific Ave., Glendale, CA, 91202