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Most Imaginative Bartender Canvas Project: Maggie Morgan

September 27, 2020

Story: Punch Staff

photo: Nick Hensley

Maggie Morgan, national finalist in the 2020 Most Imaginative Bartender Competition, shares her tips on how to collect art on a budget.

Once challenged to make a cocktail inspired by a famous painting, Maggie Morgan chose Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, evoking the Dutch master’s lush panorama in the glass with gin, herbal accents and a flower garnish. It was a particularly apt prompt for Morgan, who is herself a painter, approaching drink invention with the same freewheeling spirit as she does the canvas. Her creative credo? “Embrace your mistakes.”

Raised in Roanoke, Virginia, Morgan grew up in an artistically minded family and earned an art scholarship to college, but dropped out after losing faith that the fine arts were the right direction for her. Which was how she found herself working as a cocktail server at a music venue in New York’s East Village, where she also found a new passion for cocktails and hospitality. After stints in Hong Kong and New Orleans, Maggie returned to New York in 2020.

Through co-founding and organizing Salon d’Whatever, a monthly pop-up gallery that showcases artists’ work amid drinks and music, she’s been able to combine her passions, giving an exhibition space to people in the service industry who, as she does, continue to create outside of the bar. The art in turn fuels her imagination when it’s time to put together a new menu.

“Through creating this space,” she says, “not only for these artists but for myself, I’ve been more inspired in the last month than I have in the past couple years.”

Maggie Morgan on How to Collect Art on a Budget

About the Canvas Project

BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® Gin, in partnership with Tales of the Cocktail Foundation, is proud to present ‘The Canvas Project’, a content series featuring the creative passions of the 12 finalists in the 2020 Most Imaginative Bartender (MIB) Competition. From photography and videography, to home gardening tips and mindfulness tutorials, the webinars are designed to spark inspiration and discovery, and foster connection by sharing bartenders’ personal passions in times of hardship.

Last year’s iteration of MIB introduced the Canvas Challenge, a $25,000 grant awarded to a finalist to turn their creative vision into reality. This ambitious test further heightened the imagination component of the competition to a new level and served as a reinforcement of Bombay Sapphire’s belief in the innate creativity of bartenders, which often translates outside the glass as much as it does inside of it.

The episodes of ‘The Canvas Project’ are designed around the Canvas Challenge submissions of the 12 finalists, who hail from Portland to Atlanta, Toronto to Miami, giving viewers a peek inside the inner workings of the program.

Read More About Maggie

This Is What Creativity Means to Maggie Morgan

The New Orleans bartender on the power of embracing imperfection, her monthly pop-up gallery and the recipe for her Rule of Thirds cocktail.


Rule of Thirds

This NOLA–inspired cocktail riffs off the “holy trinity” of Cajun cooking.


Meet the Most Imaginative Bartender National Finalists

The 12 bartenders from the U.S. and Canada advancing to the MIB national finals.