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WHAT KIND OF COCKTAIL IS PERFECT FOR YOU?

Just take artist Paco Cao’s psychological test

BY JUSTIN ROCKET SILVERMAN, MARCH 16, 2014
COURTESY OF NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Do you think marriage is a burning pirate flag or a pine-scented beach? Either way, this artist has a mixed drink for you!

 	Daily News reporter Just Rocket Silverman enjoys a cocktail crafted by artist Paco Cao to match his personality. 

ERICA GANNETT FOR MOMA

Daily News reporter Just Rocket Silverman enjoys a cocktail crafted specifically for his psychological makeup by artist Paco Cao.

I drink whiskey, but apparently my personality is gin and Amaretto with a twist of apple, kiwi and rosemary.
I learned this from artist Paco Cao, who probes people’s subconscious to discover their hidden attributes — and the alcohols that match.

“What I’m doing is very rational and very intuitive,” says Cao, who runs his workshops at the Museum of Modern Art. “It is most important to understand human kind in a symbolic way.”

Cao’s workshops begins with a walking tour of the museum’s collection of Picasso, van Gogh and other painters known to enjoy a stiff drink.
Then the group retires to a bar in the museum and each person fills out a questionnaire to reveal certain personality quirks. The multiple-choice questions are a little cryptic, like “Which taste would you save from extinction? Sour, Sweet, Salty or Bitter.” And “You identify your loved one with: Hive, Volcano, River, Ocean.”

At Paco Cao’s “Psychological Cocktail Service,” currently running monthly at MoMa, guests fill out a questionaire so the artist can figure out what cocktail will be good for what ails you.
At Paco Cao’s “Psychological Cocktail Service,” currently running monthly at MoMa, guests fill out a questionnaire so the artist can figure out what cocktail will be good for what ails you.

Participants are also asked to circle which famous painting would make a good gift or describes their personality.
The last question was the most revealing, “If you had to describe your feelings about marriage, which of the following expressions would you choose?”

Answers included, “Burning pirate flag,” “Parisian cabaret in 1900,” and “Chicken singing a Michael Jackson song.”

For the record, I chose salty, river, Matisse’s “Dance” and likened marriage to a “Moroccan landscape with almond trees,” “green landscape on spring” and “Austrian pine forest.”

And that — somehow — is what earned me my gin, Amaretto, rosemary and fruit concoction.

Cao has run other cocktail events, including this one at the Lido Palace in Italy.
Cao has run other cocktail events, including this one at the Lido Palace in Italy.

No two cocktails are the same, and the artist insists his choices of liquor, mixers and garnish may are not arbitrary.

“I have a system down,” says the artist, who also does films, installations and a line of tarot cards featuring Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse and Whitney Houston as oracles of fate. “If I didn’t, I would feel like I was cheating people.”

No one felt cheated, but Cao’s mixology provided many surprises.

“I chose a really green painting and said my life’s dream would be in green also,” says Rick Sarkar, 28, who ended up with a green and frothy cocktail that reminded him of “minty alcohol from mouthwash from when I was a kid.”

In a good way. “I like drinking it,” he says.

Cao, again at the Lido Palace in Italy, gently grills his customers to determine the psychological traits that will reveal their alcoholic preferences.
Cao, again at the Lido Palace in Italy, gently grills his customers to determine the psychological traits that will reveal their alcoholic preferences.

Dike Blair, 61, also enjoyed his drink, which he described as a savory Anisette-vodka elixir.

“The cocktail was very interesting,” he says, “but not something I would make for myself at home.”

Others, like me, were a little disappointed by the choice of a gin base.

“I don’t know about gin,” said Marvin Kim, 32. “I mostly drink Scotch.”

Here’s a finished cocktail from a Cao event at Musac in Spain.
Here’s a finished cocktail from a Cao event at Musac in Spain.

Looking over my profile for clues, I came across one likely explanation for my mashed kiwi cocktail. Asked what city I would go to on a secret vacation, I’d chosen Barcelona. Perhaps if I’d selected Moscow or Mumbai, I would have gotten something with a little more kick.

The next cocktail event is at the Museum of Modern Art on April 4. For info, visit www.psychologicalcocktailservices.com.

SIDEBAR

Paco Cao maintains that each of his Psychological Cocktail Service sessions is unique and not something he could put in a recipe book. But he did provide the Daily News with this general guideline for matching character traits with the ideal cocktail ingredients.

Cao, seen here at the Lido Palace in Italy, works with master mixologists to get the combinations just right.
Cao, seen here at the Lido Palace in Italy, works with master mixologists to get the combinations just right.

Shy – Egg white
Curious – Tequila añejo
Aggressive – Sparkling wine or beer
Happy – Gin infused with cucumber and rose petals
Sad – Tea and two drops of Angostura bitters
Angry – Bourbon with aromas of buttery caramel, toasted nuts, and brown spices
Sexy – Cinnamon
Ambitious – A spoonful of caviar
Lazy – Fruit purée
Spiritual – Frangelico