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The ‘Breaking The Ice’ launch at Nieuw Amsterdam was an awesome afternoon full of good vibes, great company and delicious cocktails. I want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone for your support, it means a lot to me.

My friend the great filmmaker, Cam Suttie, photographed the opening day and this is a taste of that great afternoon.

All photographs by:

Cam Suttie

Special thanks to:

Nieuw Amsterdam for hosting this event.


I’m really excited to present my new body of work featuring a series of illustrated cocktail artworks and patterns prints created from the individual cocktail ingredients, I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do.

All Passion featuring an Old Fashioned Cocktail.

The Stimulant featuring an Espresso Martini cocktail.

Señorita Margarita featuring a Piña Margarita cocktail.

Ciao Negroni! featuring a Chilli-Choc Negroni.

Absinthe, La Dama Verte.

Mojito, Pasión Cubana featuring a Strawberry Mojito.

Presenting my new series of pattern prints created from the individual cocktail ingredients starting with Bloody Maria Pattern.

Piña Margarita Pattern.

Cuban Mariposa Pattern.

Coffee Plant Pattern.

Strawberry Mojito Pattern.

Gin Tonic Wood Engraving (Photograph by Teagan Glenane).

Absinthe Wood Engraving (Photograph by Teagan Glenane).

Letterpress cards collaboraion with Ladies of Letters

You can read more about the inspiration behind each piece and my process of work in my posts below. I hope you’ll enjoy them!


All photographs unless specified:

Mark Lobo


Kane Blanchard


I am very excited to announce my first ever solo exhibition in Melbourne called Breaking The Ice. Embracing both aspects of this idiom – making a start, and the art of mixing drinks – this exhibition brings the excitement of new beginnings with a salute to tradition, in both cocktails and art.

Combining patterns, lettering and illustration, this body of work is an explosion of colour and intricate detail, celebrating the finer things in life. Cheers!

Breaking The Ice Exhibition by Maria Montes
Opening Drinks: Saturday 28th November, 2pm

Exhibition Open: 28 th November – 6 th December 2015
Venue: Nieuw Amsterdam, 106-112 Hardware St, Melbourne

In this exhibition you will find a series of illustrated cocktail artworks inspired by personal experiences and places of interest, together with pattern prints created from the individual cocktail ingredients, a direct influence of my textile design practice. There will be limited edition letterpress cards, part of an artist-series collaboration with Ladies of Letters, by the talented Amy Constable and Carla Hackett. Lastly, there will be a display of handmade cotton crochet baskets housing plants and herbs featured on my artworks.

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Mojito, Pasión Cubana is a new illustrated artwork inspired by the classic Cuban drink.

My idea about Cuba is a place with great architecture, vibrant colours, rumba rhythms and passionate people. My starting point was researching the message for this piece. I wanted to find a phrase that had some sort of naughty meaning. While doing my research, I found a post on Instagram that said “Love made me do it” – and I instantly fell in love with it. In the end, I decided to go with “A Mojito made me do it, an intriguing message that awakens wonder and the curiosity.

The lettering design aims to represent a drinking straw. The letterforms have a low contrast between thin and thicks, and an inline stroke, as well as a hollow space representing three-dimensional forms.

The sub heading, Pasión Cubana, means Cuban passion, and it is dedicated to my friend Marta and to all loving relationships with Cuban men and women.

Once the hand-sketch is ready, I scan it and start redrawing the letterforms on the computer.

During my research for this artwork, I found this interesting article about the Australian Rum Rebellion:

The Rum Rebellion of 1808 was the only successful armed takeover of government in Australian history. During the 19th century, it was widely referred to as the Great Rebellion.

Read the complete post here.

The ingredients represented on this artwork are strawberries, blueberries, limes and mint. I also wanted to introduce some floral elements, so I researched Cuban flora and I found The White Ginger (Hedychium coronarium) also called Mariposa (butterfly in Spanish), as the Cuban’s National Flower.

The white mariposa, its scientific name “Hedychium Coronarium”, from the family of the Zingiberaceas, native to Vietnam, became a symbol of Cuban flora because Cuban women used it to smuggle messages to the battlefield during the liberation wars of the 19th century. Its perfume is exquisite.

Regarding the colour palette, I wanted to use pink and purple tones, so I chose a Strawberry Mojito as the cocktail for this piece.

Mojitos are sweet, minty and icy-cold cocktails; perhaps the best hot weather cocktail around! It’s no wonder it comes from Cuba where the average temperature is 77°F with 75% humidity.

Post by Sue Harrell from The Florida Strawberry Growers Association (FSGA)
Read the complete post here.

This artwork is about rumba and Cuban passion. Complete artwork coming soon!

Follow my daily work in progress on Instagram.


I am working on a new illustrated cocktail piece inspired by the classic French liquor called Absinthe, La Fée Verte (The Green Fairy).

This is a brief summary on the origins of Absinthe:

Henriette Henriod, often called “Mother Henriod”, said that she had always been aware of the medical benefits of wormwood. In the second third of the 18th century, she produced an elixir made of wormwood in her hometown in Couvet, Switzerland, which was used to cure various diseases. Major Dubied quickly recognized the rising demand for this elixir, so he bought the recipe, and together with his future son-in-law, Henri-Louis Pernod, he opened the “Dubied Father & Son” distillery in 1798. After a few successful years, Henri-Louis Pernod decided to found his own business. And with the first distillery in Couvet becoming too small, he crossed the borders, and opened the first “Pernod Fils” distillery in Pontarlier, France, in 1805. Since then, Pernod is a name that always will be associated with absinthe.

With the beginnings of the industrial production of absinthe, it was decided, that it was necessary to modify the recipe of the wormwood elixir to satisfy the growing number of customers. The bitterness was reduced through:

– using less wormwood in the recipe
– using more anise and fennel

Read the whole post here.

Doing further research on the Absinthe formula, I found this informative post from Following their recipe, I began to draw the following ingredients involved in the formation of Absinthe: Wormwood, hyssop (whole plant), Chinese star anise (fruit/flower), anise seeds, fennel seeds, lemon balm, coriander and thyme.

The colour palette of this artwork is clearly inspired by the popular Green Fairy name associated with Absinthe.

I wanted to create a glowing visual experience. All the elements of this piece have been vector drawn, except for the green spirit in the glass:

The message of this piece arose from a brainstorming session with colleagues, Tim Allan and Sarah Graham at Rotson Studios. Sarah suggested the idea of replacing absinthe by absence in the popular saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder”; and Tim added the poetic sentence “makes the mind go wander”. I loved both ideas so I started working on them straight away.

The reason behind the breaking up of the word ab·sinthe in my artwork lies in the relationship between the meaning of the Latin prefix, ab– and the message of the piece itself.

The English prefix ab-, which means “away,” appears in many English vocabulary words.” You can remember that the prefix abmeans “away” via the word absence, for someone who is absent is “away” from a place.

The sugar cube and flames draw your eyes up towards the lettering surrounding the message.

Absinthe, La Fée Verte, is an illustrated cocktail artwork that glows in the dark and keep us dreaming. Full artwork coming soon!

Follow my daily work in progress on Instagram.


Ciao Negroni! is a new illustrated artwork featuring this classic Italian cocktail.

The inspiration behind this piece is a blog post from called “How to Drink like an Italian”. On this post, Bon Appetit restaurant and drinks editor Andrew Knowlton states: “Italians drink differently than we do. They sip, stir, linger over low-octane cocktails“.

Personally I love Italy and as Jessica Webster says “How can you not love a culture that so lustily celebrates the finer things in life? Opera, art, fashion and food.”

Nieuw Amsterdam offers a variation on this cocktail called Chilli-Choc Negroni. I love chillies so I decided to go ahead with this version of the Italian drink.

I wanted to use the colours of the Italian flag without being too obvious. Chillies gave me the red colour palette I needed, so I began to illustrate them as my starting point. The other ingredient from Nieuw Amsterdam’s cocktail recipe is Vietnamese mint, which became the second main element in my artwork. These ingredients have been drawn by hand and coloured on the computer.

Following the Italian theme, I wanted to introduce an Italian word that could be easily understood in English, so I chose salute. This lettering has been designed using my own Copperplate calligraphy as a reference.

On the other hand, negroni is a lettering design based on my own Fraktur calligraphy.

The artwork is an elegant interpretation of the Chilli-Choc Negroni cocktail combining red, green and white colours and features chillies, mint, a cocktail glass and sections of the lettering Salute! as decorative elements to build its final shape.

Full artwork coming soon!

Follow my daily work in progress on Instagram.


I am working on a new piece inspired by Nieuw Amsterdam’s Piña Margarita cocktail. My aim is to create a series of illustrated cocktail artworks, each of them featuring a different type of liquor.

Señorita Margarita is an homage to Mexico and tequila. And that is the reason why I have introduced the Spanish Word señorita in my artwork. Below is my personal connection with this drink.

A few years ago back in Barcelona, I studied a Master’s Degree in Interactive Interfaces Design. The course was a great personal experience as it consisted of a group of twelve students representing seven different nationalities. One of my classmates, Rodrigo Morales (from Mexico), taught us about Mexican food and good tequila, and he brought some amazing samples to our reunions. I associate that period of my life with a fascination for tequila and a loving relationship with Mexico, which I am yet to visit.

I learned about this variation on the classic Margarita when I first visited Nieuw Amsterdam. The name Piña Margarita resonated with me, and after seeing one of their Instagram posts displaying the drink, I decided to use New Amsterdam’s cocktail recipe to create my new artwork. Señorita Margarita features pineapples, limes and agave.

The lettering design of Señorita Margarita is an interpretation of my own calligraphy. I chose Copperplate calligraphy to write the heading. Using my calligraphic sketch as a reference, I started drawing the lettering on top with tracing paper. Once I was happy with the hand-lettering work, I moved to the computer to vectorise and interpret the letterforms.

The phrase my heart belongs to is set in Miłosz Italic, my own typeface design in progress.

Then I started drawing the glass. I liked the idea of having a big pineapple piece on top:

All my line work is done by hand:

In the background I wanted to have a big palm to bring dynamism and organic forms. This below is a section of the original line work at A2 size:

After all elements had been hand drawn, I moved to the computer to clean the images and apply colour. I wanted to express a tropical vibe using a vibrant colour palette:

Señorita Margarita is a refreshing artwork, using bold colours and Tropicana vibes. Complete artwork coming soon!

Follow my daily work in progress on Instagram.


I am working on a new artwork featuring an Espresso Martini.

This year I have started to teach Computer Aided Design at Melbourne Fashion Institute and I have been doing some research on fashion illustration. I really admire Kelly Thomson’s work and this has given me the inspiration to try my first portrait drawing.

I read the story behind the Espresso Martini cocktail, originally called ‘The Stimulant’, and I thought this was the perfect moment to give it a try! Here is an insight about the creation of this cocktail ofrom

How the Espresso Martini Became a National Obsession in Australia
Left behind by American bartenders and drinkers as a relic of the Dark Ages of the Cocktail, the Espresso Martini has always had a home in Australia. Fred Siggins on why an entire continent is still obsessed with this 1980s drink from the UK.
Date: January 21, 2015
Story: Fred Siggins

Walk into a serious cocktail bar in New York or LA and order an Espresso Martini. You’ll probably get that look, cultivated by bartenders for more than a century, that says, Oh, sweetie, you don’t know what you’re doing, do you? In the US, it’s a drink that’s been relegated to the book of banished cocktails along with the Midori Illusion and the Fluffy Duck—relics of a bygone era most bars would rather forget.

But here in Australia, the Espresso Martini reigns supreme as the nation’s favorite cocktail. Order one at any Aussie cocktail bar, and the bartender will rush to the full-sized, professional espresso machine (there’s one in every bar), pull you a creamy shot of caffeinated goodness, and whip up your drink as naturally as if you’d ordered a Negroni. The longevity—and sheer popularity—of the drink in Australia is matched only by our obsession with good coffee. In fact, it’s the café culture cultivated by the latter that not only served as the blueprint for the Australian craft cocktail bar, but made the marriage of booze and espresso a matter of fate.

The Espresso Martini, however, is not our invention. That honor goes to British bartending guru Dick Bradsell, who is credited with revolutionizing the cocktail scene in London in the 1980s—through his work at bars such as The Player, 6 Degrees and Match—and the invention of modern classics like the Bramble.

The story goes that Bradsell created the drink—originally called The Pharmaceutical Stimulant—at Fred’s Club in the late 1980s, when a young model, who Bradsell claims is now world famous, sidled up to the bar and asked for something to wake her up, and then fuck her up. His solution was a combination of vodka, fresh espresso, coffee liqueur and sugar, shaken into a frothy mix of bittersweet addiction. (Some speculate the model was Kate Moss, others Naomi Campbell, but Bradsell has never revealed her identity.)

To read the complete article click here.

The first thing I wanted to try was illustrating the face of the cocktail, the model. I emailed a few friends and asked them to take a selfie. I chose Sarah Graham as my inspirational image. The pencil illustration is an original in A2 size.

I scanned the image and started to apply contrast and colour. I knew that the make up had to be very pronounced to obtain a high contrasted image. I wanted to create a dehumanise face, as some modeling images can be, where you cannot feel the soul of the girl behind the face.

I decided to create a pattern from the coffee plant to apply on Sarah‘s shirt. Here are a few images of the pattern process and the final image in 100% opacity.

The lettering and the cocktail glasses I want them to be the main elements of the illustration so that the model will be fade out in the background. The background grid represents the texture of a hessian bag of coffee beans.

My idea for the lettering was having funky letterforms with high contrast between the thin and thicks. I wanted to alter the x-high of the letters and also give them more dynamism. These are a few images of my process:

As the last element of this illustration, I wanted to have a frame made out of coffee beans. These are some process shots:

The Stimulant is an illustrated cocktail artwork representing a fashionista Espresso Martini. Complete artwork coming soon!

Follow my daily work in progress on Instagram.


Sarah Graham


Last March 2015, Nieuw Amsterdam contacted me in regards to having an exhibition of my artworks. They saw my Bloody Maria illustrated piece at Supergraph Exhibition in Melbourne and they really liked it. They offered me to showcase my cocktail pieces as the main focus of the show and then use the rest of the space to display any other of my artworks. I felt very honoured by their proposal and after having a face-to-face meeting with them, I started to work on a new piece featuring an Old Fashioned.

The reason why I chose this cocktail is that I wanted to use a different type of liquor. I had already featured vodka and gin on my previous artworks, so it was time for a drink featuring whiskey or bourbon.

Thinking about the Old Fashioned cocktail, the first image that came to my mind was a really comfortable dark space, full of beautiful leather couches and warm lights; a very intimate space with cigars.

I did some research about the cocktail’s recipe and I decided to work on oranges as the main focus of the piece. I love this fruit and its colours.

All oranges and the glass have been drawn by hand using a 0.38 and 0.50 ballpoint pen. Then scanned, cleaned and coloured in Photoshop.

Doing further research I found an interesting post from The Slate:

“The old-fashioned is at once “the manliest cocktail order” and “something your grandmother drank,” and between those poles we discover countless simple delights, evolutionary wonders, and captivating abominations. Because of its core simplicity and its elasticity—because it is primordial booze—ideas about the old-fashioned exist in a realm where gastronomical notions shade into ideological tenets. It is a platform for a bar to make a statement, a surface on which every bartender leaves a thumbprint, and a solution that many a picky drinker dips his litmus paper in. You are a free man. Drink your drink as you please. But know that your interpretation of the recipe says something serious about your philosophy of fun.”

There is a song by Queen called “Good Old Fashion Lover Boy”. I used to be a big fan of Queen when I was a little girl, so this gave me the inspiration for my lettering “I learnt my passion in the good Old Fashioned”.

Regarding the lettering style, from the beginning I had the idea of using a neon sign combined with a vector pattern of a leather couch in the background. I began to work on the lettering using a monoline. These below are a few sketches:

Adding colour to the line work in Illustrator:

Vectorising the letterforms:

Full piece coming up soon!

Follow my daily work in progress on Instagram.


For the last 4 years I have been lucky enough to visit friends and family and spend over a month in Barcelona. Everyone who lives there knows that gin tonics are the drink of choice, and also knows that we do not call them “Gin & Tonics”.

Recently I read an article about the passion for Gin Tonics in Spain and about some bars in Barcelona specialised on this cocktail. This article gave me the inspiration to create my piece:

[…] Barcelona, like Madrid, is now flooded with bars that do nothing but serve gin tonics. There’s Bobby Gin in Gracia, with a bouncer at the door who radios your group in to a bar bathed in dark woods and soft lights. Xixbar in Poble Sec, with its cave-like corners and piercing florescent lights, has a store connected to the bar selling something like 50 types of gin from around the world. And my favorite from the cool crowd, Pesca Salada, a tiny bar tucked down a side street in the Raval, with erratic hours, a ceiling paved in metal plates and a bartender with a killer fro and a heavy hand with the hard stuff. […]


The artwork features several ingredients used in the elaboration of Gin and the cocktail itself. You will find some arbequina olives as well, maybe not commonly associate it with Gin, but these are the gold ingredient in one of our national gins called Gin Mare, a Mediterranean Gin that I wanted to give support. This is Gin Mare’s DNA:

Gin Mare opens the door to a new variety of gins, with a novel pan-Mediterranean concept that unites the different cultures around this sea representing their botanical stars such as: Arbequina olives, thyme, basil and rosemary

Our Liquid Gold:
The Arbequina Olive.
The only one in the world with its own Designation of Origin

Our Mediterranean Botanicals:
Basil from Italy
Thyme from Greece
Rosemary from Turkey
Citrus fruits from Spain

Other botanicals that make up the Gin Mare personality:
Juniper Coriander Green Cardamom (harvested on farms)

Gin Mare is born from a pure Mediterranean environment with our distillery located in an ancient fishing village between the Costa Brava and the Costa Dorada.


The artwork is built entirely in vector format.

The lettering is based on my own copperplate writing and then added weight by hand and vectorised on the computer.

This is my tribute and personal love story with the city of Barcelona. Full artwork coming soon!