Everyone knows that this past Sunday was 10/10/10, but that evening marked the celebration of another milestone: the 500th anniversary of Benedictine Liqueur. For those unfamiliar with the liqueur's origins, it was invented in 1510 by Benedictine monk Dom Bernardo, who combined 27 different herbs and spices to create a unique spirit for the ages. Various cities across the U.S. - from Boston to Miami to San Francisco - held private fetes to toast 500 years of Benedictine alchemy.
The main celebration, however, was held in New York, at the Lower East Side private home of visual artist Izhar Patkin, one of five "modern day alchemists" honored by Benedictine in conjunction with the Young Lions of the New York Public Library. The Benedictine monks were widely known as scribes of their time, so the collaboration makes sense. Among the other artists and writers honored were novelist Hari Kunzru, director John Collins (whose latest production, Gatz, incorporates the entire text of The Great Gatsby into a re-imagined theatre experience), journalist Rozalia Jovanovic, and Grammy nominee/blogger/Renaissance Man Moby.
Guests the likes of Sam Bolton, Ashley Wick, Brooke Geahan, Marshall Heyman, Christina Murphy, and Nike Communications' Flo Fulton sampled among four signature Benedictine cocktails whilst admiring the work of the honorees, which was displayed throughout the artist's spacious digs. A projection screen in the main room showed much of the artists' work, in addition to a curious sequence of the Benedictine Liqueur being poured slowly - very slowly - into a glass. "Have you ever noticed that slow-motion makes everything seem more artistic?" Moby quipped. As we continued our conversation onto the patio, he told me that not only has he been blogging for over a decade (before most people even knew what blogging was), but that he also set up his first email account in 1991. Only recently did he finally change his email address (incidentally, I have had the same email address since I first opened my account - in 1994). As additional partygoers retreated to the patio, many took advantage of the photo booth set-up, which functioned as a much more sophisticated version of the polaroid. By the time the fete began to slowly wind down (it was set to end at 10:10pm, naturally, but people lingered quite a bit longer), it was clear that the celebration of old and new alchemy had been a successful one.