How to Build an Epic Cocktail Fountain for Day of the Dead


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How to Build an Epic Cocktail Fountain for Day of the Dead

What’s better than paying tribute to your deceased loved ones than a drink in their honor?
November 1, 2016, 6:00pm

The author assembling one of his fountains. All photos by Shane Smith.

I'm the Beverage Director at Mission Chinese Food, and I'm currently working on a project called "Fountains," a threshold between the world of installation art and our familiar ritual of communal drinking. "Fountains" are laid as to be immersive and cryptic, "choose-your-own-adventure" experiences for the senses, where a viewer can socialize or be as lost in their own thoughts as so desired.

This installation I made was created for the notable florist Fox Fodder Farm with a vibe styled for a wild Day of the Dead celebration. And what's better than paying tribute to your deceased loved ones than a drink in their honor? Here's how to pull it off:


Location: Find a white-walled cave or space with ceilings reaching to the sky.


Sounds: The cave, when empty, will be so silent that a leaf might be heard spinning in the air as it falls from above. Yet, when the speakers embedded in the walls and floors raise their volume, the cave will thrum the sternum with the pulse of bass.


Elixir Filled-Fountains: There will be fountains that glow from within, pumping elixir toward the ceiling from central columns, out in concentric rings that flow freely from which the undead will drink. The elixir will be made of Grape Eau-de-Vie from the Chilean Mountains, clarified finger lime juice, and Lebanese Rose water.


Objects: Find things that have meaning for the fountain. Here are a few of the things I used: Crystal Tea Cup and saucer. Treasure chest. Glowing Lotus flower. Ukulele. Double Mirrors. American Tourister tag. Take out boxes. Sinead O'Connor. Pink Paratrooper figurine. Spools of thread, spools of yarn, woven lanyards. Cherry blossoms on the branch. Baby electric fan. Buttons. Strings of beads. Tray of rainbow eggs. H-O-N-E-Y candles. Magic Johnson. Sprouting Coconut. Stamps from Honduras. Paper disco balls. Strings of globe lights. Rose votives floating in conches filled with butterfly pea flower tea. Bromeliads. Moon Jelly Candy. A stopped watch. Spice Girl figurines. Poker dice. Himalayan salt candles. Bone Mahjong counting sticks. A mannequin's arm. Deer antlers. Gummy teeth. A broken fire call box. A "BRAINWAVES" pin.


Scents: Hinoki incense. Crushed, fresh marjoram and fennel pollen. Watermelon Bubbelicious bubblegum.


Sound Layers from Three Speakers Systems: A veil of tinkling elixir droplets falling from the fountains. A steady, heartbeat of deep, subterranean bass from low-lying sub-woofers. A cascade looped overhead of soul and reggae music: Nina Simone, Gregory Isaacs, Frank Ocean, Jodeci…

Unintentional Visitors: An unattended German shepherd. A DHL delivery of disco-dust.


Overhead fluorescence:A heartbeat-paced strobe from an indeterminate source.

Attendees: Only of your choosing. They arrive, are given glasses, drink the elixir dry, and dance themselves to puddles.