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The Lowdown: Basquiat X Great Jones

The Lowdown: Basquiat X Great Jones

It’s impossible to look at the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat and remain indifferent. Raw. Electric. Groundbreaking. It’s a gut punch of color and emotion that roars: “Look at me. I am New York. I am Basquiat.”

Now for the first time, Great Jones Distilling Co., the first and only whiskey distillery in Manhattan since Prohibition, is bringing Basquiat back to his Noho roots with an artistic takeover at their distillery on Great Jones Street, minutes from the artist’s former art studio.

“This collaboration is 100% New York,” says Celina Perez, Head Distiller at Great Jones Distilling Co. “Everything we do is inspired by and pays homage to our home state. From our ingredients in our bourbon to the offerings at our restaurant The Grid, to our home place in Noho, New York is our heart and soul. So much of Basquiat’s work celebrates his New York roots, his commentary on the lives of ordinary New Yorkers, and the vibrancy of downtown Manhattan. He created some of his most recognizable art at his Great Jones studio.”

This partnership is the perfect mashup between the realms of spirits and fine art, creating an experience that’s as layered as Basquiat’s masterpieces. As visitors step into the Great Jones Distillery, they’re immersing themselves in a story that celebrates New York counterculture and Basquiat’s unique ability to sublimate street art into social commentary.

The heart of this collab lies in the three exclusive bottles featuring Basquiat’s artwork. The Dinosaur and Skull editions of the Great Jones x Jean Michel Basquiat collection showcase some of Basquiat’s most recognizable drawings. Paired with these iconic visuals is the 4-year-old Great Jones Straight Bourbon, boasting versatile flavors of creamy vanilla, spice, and a peppery finish.

The pinnacle of the collection is the Distillery Exclusive, which has been more than seven years in the making. It’s the oldest bourbon the distillery has released with an aging process of 7-years including more than a year finished in a Pineau de Charentes wine cask to give complex hints of grape skin, honeysuckle, and stone. The bottle is adorned with Basquiat’s iconic crown sketch and housed in a gift box, featuring the artist’s Bird on Money artwork. Perez recommends serving the bourbon neat.

In addition to the exclusive bottles, the Great Jones Distillery has transformed into an immersive experience inspired by one of Basquiat’s New York. The Basquiat Bar, reminiscent of the post-punk vibe of The Mudd Club (one of the artist’s favorite watering holes), offers cocktails and appetizers inspired by Basquiat. Try POWER AND PASSION, a piña colada riff with bright, floral notes and rich texture, which celebrate Basquiat’s Haitian roots or HEAD OF EMPIRE, which pays homage to the Alabama Slammer, balancing the nutty sweetness with a hint of bitterness with the bourbon’s warm and caramel characteristics.

The distillery experience includes “Basquiat’s New York,” a tasting room that surrounds guests with oversized Basquiat imagery and memorabilia from 1980s New York. This multi-sensory experience features a VIP tour with a tasting of the Distillery Exclusive cask-finished whiskey. The project also includes a curated collection of merchandise, such as dino and crown t’s and sweatshirts, designed and produced by New York brand Rome Pays Off.

You can purchase Great Jones x Jean-Michel Basquiat spirits bottles or to book a tour at the distillery at GreatJonesDistillingCo.com

-Molly Headley

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