New York has always been a great city, but this week its greatness gets bumped up a notch, as the first annual Manhattan Cocktail Classic rolls into town, along with some of the country's best and brightest mixological minds. Accurately described as "part fête, part conference, part cocktail party," it will be a balls-to-the-wall 5-day orgy of all things related to the craft of the cocktail and the art of mixology. Kicking off the entire affair will be the opening night Gala at the grand New York Public Library building at Bryant Park, where the price of admission gets you unlimited food and cocktails prepared by some of the city's best chefs and mixologists--I've heard from more than one reliable source that Mario Batali himself will be preparing some delectables. Whether you're a professional in the industry, an amateur enthusiast, or just enjoy an awesomely prepared cocktail, New York City will be the place to be from May 14-18, if it already wasn't before.
Of the multitude of events, however, there's one in particular that I'd like to draw your attention to, called The Dizzy Fizz Tastemaker's Punch taking place Monday May 17 at the breathtaking Ramscale Penthouse in the West Village. Myself, along with several other of the city's tastemaking mixologists will prepare and serve various original mouthwatering punches (like the one featured today), while beautiful works of cocktail-related art are displayed on the walls from folks like saloon artist Jill DeGroff, graffiti artist/designer Claw Money, painter Nicole Desmond, and the amazing cocktail photography of Umamimart's very own Vanessa Bahmani. As far as things to do on a Monday night, I cannot think of anything better.
Ok now that the shameless self-promoting plugs are out of the way, we can move on to the week's cocktail, which is one I've created specifically for the upcoming Tastemaker's Punch event. It's a punch I'm rather excited about, because it employs rather exciting ingredients, two of which are on the cusp of hitting the markets nationally (fingers tightly crossed): Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine and A.B. Smeby's Bitters. The former is a lightly sweet and spiced corn whiskey that has pronounced cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla notes on the nose and palate (though they're tightlipped about the exact ingredients they use); the latter is a local brand of artisinal and seasonal bitters made by the very unbitter Brooklynite Louis Smeby, whose bitters I've had the distinct privilege of experimenting with and featuring a couple of times over the past few weeks.
I call it Chinese Bootlegger Punch as a reference to the ingredients in the punch. In addition to the corn whiskey (which is essentially a legal and more refined version of the illegal and often harsh moonshine made by Southern and Appalachian bootleggers) and Smeby's Forbidden Bitters (notes of tonka bean and cassia), the punch features Chinese Oolong tea, cinnamon, grapefruit, lemon, and agave. Since this event is part of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, the name also serves as a shout out to the bootleggers in Chinatown whom I hold in the highest esteem, and without whom I'd not be able to afford the Panerai on my wrist nor watch bootleg movies before their release date.
Chinese Bootlegger Punch (serves 20, scale accordingly)
5 cups Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine
5 cups brewed Oolong tea (less than boiling water, steeped 5-6 min)
3.75 cups fresh grapefruit juice (big difference when you use fresh) 1.25 cups fresh lemon juice
1 cup agave nectar syrup
.75 cup A.B. Smeby Forbidden Bitters (if unavailable use Angostura)
.5 cup cinnamon syrup (Trader Tiki makes excellent brand)
Big block or two of ice (freeze water in the biggest tupperware you have; I've found that boiled water produces clearer ice than filtered)
Mix everything together in a punch bowl and refrigerate, preferably an hour or two in advance so that the flavors can mingle. Add the big blocks of ice--the bigger the better because they'll melt slower--when ready to serve, and garnish with a few lemon slices.
Cheers, and please say a prayer for my liver this weekend.
*Got a cocktail question? Hit me on twitter @paystyle, email me at payman(at)lifesacocktail(dot)com, or simply drop me a comment below.