The Whitney Biennial: Behind Eduardo Sarabia's Tequila Bar

Sarabia and his potent potable. Photo: Courtesy of I-20 Gallery.

One of the most talked-about exhibits at last night's opening of the Whitney Biennial was Eduardo Sarabia's Salon Aleman, or — as you may have heard it called — "the tequila bar." Sarabia designed the blue and white porcelain bar in the Park Avenue Armory and spent much of the after-party serving his own homemade tequila. According to Sarabia, the project began five years ago when the artist became interested in the process of producing authentic Mexican tequila and was soon smuggling bottles into the United States. At the Armory, his bar will feature glassware and D.J. performances by his friends, "though the most important thing," he noted, "is that people come out and try my tequila."

Sure, it's canny to sidetrack potential critics by getting them hammered, undergraduate style, but we had to ask Sarabia: Is it art? Does he think drinking is an art form? "Drinking responsibly." Responsibly? But he makes tequila! "When I first told people about my tequila," he protested, "everyone had a story from when they were 16 and promised to never drink it again. But I turn them around. My tequila doesn't give a hangover." No hangover? That is an art. —Blythe Sheldon