Saturday, May 19, 2012

Manhattan Cocktail Classic 2012 - More of the Excess

Manhattan Cocktail Classic - Image via

The Manhattan Cocktail Classic has come and gone, and with 5 days of events, seminars, tasting bars, celebrations, and revelry, we fit in as much as our bodies would allow. These kinds of events present a special kind of challenge; when tasting new products, favorite brands, and artfully crafted cocktails from master mixologists, there are particular limits to one’s physical capabilities. All in all, it was an amazing week, and here are a few highlights:

After kicking off with a grand start at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic Gala, we nursed our hangovers with extra spicy Bloody Marys that were much needed and much appreciated. Then we were off to the NoMad hotel rooftop for the Beefeater and Plymouth British Invasion Party. There were many summery cocktails to be had along with beer battered fish and chips. We particularly loved the Paris is Burning cocktail, Plymouth, Mezcal, Pineapple, St. Germain, and Lemon. We might have also had a Pimm’s Cup or two - served with Beefeater, Pimms #1, Ginger, Lime, Cucumber, and Orange. We danced to Beatles tunes, played by The Crooners, and basked in the sun. It was a proper Saturday, to say the least.

Rooftops, Sunshine, and Beatles Songs

The Andaz Hotel hosted the lion’s share of events this week, although there were other smaller events all over the city. Scattered throughout the hotel here were tasting rooms, food demonstrations, talks, and cocktail bars in hotel suites where people could relax and enjoy cocktails mixed by master mixologists such as Jim Meehan and Charlotte Voisey to name a few.

Glasses Prepped for Pisco Sours

El Bulli - Pepper-Infused Don Julio Blanco, Dry Sherry, Fresh Pineapple Juice, Yuzu Juice, Simple Syrup

We tasted some amazing spirits, including the Jefferson’s 10 year Rye (currently impossibly sold out), High West Whiskey’s smoky Campfire Whiskey - a combination of Bourbon, Rye, and Scotch, High West Rendezvous Rye - soon to be another treasured staple in our home bar, and the exquisite Mandarine Napoléon XO, of which, only 900 bottles worldwide have been produced. Mandarine Napoléon was originally made for Napoleon himself, and let us tell you, the man had great taste.

Jefferson Flight - Small Batch, Very Small Batch, 10 Year Rye, and 18 Year Presidential Select

Ladies working the Bar at Mandarine Napoléon

Speaking of taste, the Indie Spirits Expo was an overwhelming event where hundreds of small brands offering tastings of their products. There was much to try, but there were a few standouts in our mind. We’re into smoke these days, so we loved the Fidencio Mezcal tasting - especially the unique Pechuga Mezcal which is distilled three times and aged with Quince, Pineapple, Banana, Apple, Guava, and a Chicken breast. Yes chicken breast. It adds a particular savory, spicy quality to the Mezcal, yet smooth and delicious.

We also loved Death’s Door White Whiskey, one of the smoothest white dogs we’ve tasted, Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka with notes of Citrus, Coconut, and Lemongrass, St. George Absinthe Verte made with fennel, wormwood, and star anise, and then there was Corsair Small Batch Triple Smoke. A Barley whiskey aged in new oak barrels that has the flavors of cherry, vanilla, honey, and that intoxicating smoke. We also loved their spicy 100% Rye, both of which you can pick up at The Whiskey Shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Finally, we had a blast at the Campari Bartender’s Bash hosted at the New York Distilling Company and The Shanty in Williamsburg. It was Count Negroni’s Birthday, and a perfect reason to celebrate with mustaches, top hats, canes, and of course, variations of the Negroni. We enjoyed one of our favorite cocktails from the Gala, the Carbonated Bottled Negroni by Theo Lieberman of the Lantern’s Keep.

The Old Garde - Photo by Gabi Porter and Belathee Photography

Theo & Carbonated Bliss

We sipped on Barrel Aged Negronis by Allen Katz of The Shanty, Negroni Sbagliatos (Prosecco Negronis) by Frank Cisneros of Dram, and Boulevardiers by Maxwell Britten of Maison Premiere. There were even Negronis on tap, a feature we may need to install in our apartment...don’t judge.

Negronis on Tap - A Necessary Apartment Feature - Photo by Gabi Porter and Belathee Photography

Korean Tacos from Korilla BBQ - Photo by Gabi Porter and Belathee Photography
Francesco and The Count - Photo by Gabi Porter and Belathee Photography

We nibbled on Korean Tacos by Korilla BBQ, dumplings by Rickshaw Dumplings, and grilled cheese sandwiches from Morris Grilled Cheese. Questlove provided the tunes, and we danced the night away rubbing elbows with bartending legends Tony Abou-Ganim, Francesco Lafranconi, Jacques Bezuidenhout, and Gary Regan.

It was a great week, to say the least.  We’ve already got our calendars marked for next year’s events: May 17- 21, 2013!


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