Q&A With Artist Derrick Castle of Straw Castle Block Prints
Featured as a “Favorite Thing” in the May/June 2014 issue of Imbibe, Derrick Castle’s unique cocktail-inspired block prints are a must-have for any cocktail enthusiast. During Negroni Week 2014, he’s promised to donate 20% from every print sold to the Nashville Rescue Mission. He recently took time to chat about his block prints and how he takes his Negronis. Learn more about his work and order your print here.
Imbibe: How did you get started making Negroni-focused block prints?
Derrick Castle: I’m an amateur cocktail enthusiast. Before it closed down, there was this fantastic little bar here in Nashville that served great craft cocktails. Over the years I ended up becoming good friends with the bartender and was inspired by his passion for quality ingredients, housemade syrups and bitters. I knew I would never master the art of mixology like he did, so I wanted to pay tribute to my favorite cocktails in another way—by doing this series of block prints.
Imbibe: What charity will you be supporting during Negroni Week and why?
DC: During Negroni week, I’ll be donating 20% of the proceeds from each sale of the classic cocktail series prints to a charity in Nashville called the Nashville Rescue Mission. I really respect what the Nashville Rescue Mission is doing to help feed, house and rehabilitate the homeless in Nashville. They fully operate through the donations of others and receive no taxpayer dollars. Their mission is not to simply feed the homeless but to spend time with them, get to know them and learn about their struggles in order to better help them get back on their feet.
Imbibe: When did you first try a Negroni?
DC: I was first introduced to the Negroni about seven years ago at a bar in Nashville that was serving barrel-aged Negronis. They would age the gin, Campari and vermouth for nine months in charred oak barrels from a local distillery, and I was immediately sold. I loved the flavor profile of sweetness and bitterness of the Campari balanced with herbaceousness of the gin and vermouth.
Imbibe: How do you take your Negroni these days?
DC: As much as I love tradition, I’m always experimenting with different flavor profiles with my Negronis. I start with the classic pairing of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth but add twists such as a drop or two of pimento dram for touch of spiciness, or a bit of Laphroaig for a touch of smokiness.