Last night NYC said goodbye to the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, a five day festival of all things related to the craft of the cocktail, and the first of its kind to bless our city. The cocktail world had been buzzing in anticipation about this for quite some time, and now that it's over a few of us (including myself) still have a buzz. So as I try to get my world (and my liver) back in order, I figured a recap is appropriate for those who weren't able to make it out here for the festivities.
There were too many events to count or attend over the course of these last five days, so instead I'll share the two that were the most memorable for me: the opening night Gala at the NY Public Library on Friday and The Dizzy Fizz Tastemaker's Punch on Monday.
FIRST, THE GALA...
Live music, massages, and facials by the mens room:
The bottom floor of the NYPL was converted to look like the old Stork Club.
Making cocktails with liquid nitrogen:
My boy Pejman rockin' his, um, let's call it retro tux (not a rental). This is the point where the evening took a turn...
The pictures are only a tiny slice of the goings on at the gala. The space was so large, and there were so many spirit brands slinging drinks that only a group led by a sober person could've managed to hit up every station.
And speaking of tiny slices, there was one MAJOR disappointment in my experience at the gala, which really prevented the evening from being truly epic. In all of the pre-hype and buildup to the event, we were led to believe that there was going to be an immense amount of food at the event. But in reality, while there may have been lots of food, it was only accessible to the few who crowded the top floor (where ALL the food was) very early on and stayed there. We tried accessing the top floor at 9:30 in the evening (the event started at 9) and that apparently was not early enough, as security began blocking access to the top floor because capacity had been reached. By the time we eventually reached the top floor (as a result of a diversion I created for the security) there was no food to be found. I don't mean no food as in very little food. I mean no food as in a frickin' culinary holocaust. Oh wait, I take that back, there was a scrap of bread.
Personally, I would have been just fine with even a few decent bites, but for the organizers to have built up such high expectations was foolish and downright irresponsible. I would have been just fine--and still would have felt I got my money's worth--with having a big meal before the event and just going there to get my drink on. The funny thing is I emailed the main organizer a few days before the event in anticipation of this very issue, asking whether my party should grab dinner before hand. I was instead reassured that there would be food abound, and that at most I should grab a few small bites but not arrive full. Needless to say this was terrible advice, and judging by my conversations with other folks at the Gala, the sentiment was widely shared.
If you were following my live tweets directly or via @umamimart you'll recall that upon conclusion of the gala I gave the event a B- grade. After a bit more deliberation, and once my hunger-induced anger had subsided, I decided to bump it up to a B. This is unfortunate because the event could have easily been in A+ territory had they not conducted such a shitshow regarding the food. Having about 25-30% less people wouldn't have been too bad either, which would have brought down the numbers to just below 2000 (there were 2500 tickets sold!).
THE DIZZY FIZZ "TASTEMAKER'S PUNCH"
Whatever moments of frustration there were at last Friday's Gala were more than made up for at an event called The Dizzy Fizz "Tastemaker's Punch" held at the Ramscale loft in the West Village. Although the event was part of the general Manhattan Cocktail Classic, thankfully it was not organized by the folks who organized the Gala. Instead it was Selena Ricks (who runs the tastemaking NYC blog The Dizzy Fizz) that was the mastermind behind the event, which featured creative punches by some talented mixologists, cocktail-related artwork on display, and a very very thorough toast/history lesson by the Toastmaster David Wondrich.
Besides myself, the other mixologists featuring their punch creations were Orson Salicetti (Apotheke, NY); Aaron Doherty (Jack the Horse Tavern, NY); Erick Castro (Rickhouse, SF); Jason Littrell (Death & Co, NY); Hal Wolin (A Muddled Thought, NY); Abigail Gullo (Rye Girl, NY); Frank Cisneros (Dokebi, NY); Enzo Lim (Minetta Tavern, NY); and Maxwell Britten (Freemans, NY).
The walls of the event space were decked out with the works of "saloon artist" Jill Degroff, graf artist Claw Money, and Umamimart's own Vanessa Bahmani, to name a few. In case you're wondering, yes, we got fucked up!
My creation, the Chinese Bootlegger Punch, made with Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine, Oolong tea, Smeby's Bitters, fresh grapefruit, lemon, cinnamon, and agave. The recipe can be found in last week's Happy Hour.
My friend Mr. Chinnery, who runs the blog Have Glass Will Drink, not only volunteered his time to help us set up, but also provided an indispensable service as chief taste-tester for my punch.
Oh, did we mention it was Ms. Ricks' birthday that evening? Happy birthday!
One of the my favorite punches of the evening, called the Madre Sazonada (Spicy Mama) was created by Mr. Doherty of Brooklyn's Jack the Horse Tavern. It's made with Milagro Reposado tequila, Modelo Especial beer, and an awesome sweet, sour, and spice punch to your face!
I had the pleasure of working next to Mr. Salicetti, who took it to the next level with a punch made from Bols Genever, apple, cucumber, grapes, white wine reduction, aloe vera, bell pepper, and probably five more ingredients that escape me right now.
And that my friends concludes the longest blog post ever. Cheers!
*Got a cocktail question? Hit me on twitter @paystyle, email me at payman(at)lifesacocktail(dot)com, or simply drop me a comment below.
**Special shout out to Jodi Surfas for providing Gala photos above when Vanessa and I were clearly too wasted to do so!