Posts Tagged ‘Manhattan Cocktail Classic’

May 19th, 2010

Manhattan Cocktail Classic 2010


It started with a festive gala amid the marble-and-granite splendor of the New York Public Library and ended (for me, at least) with a wee-hours dinner at the 1930s-Eurasian-exotica-inspired Macao Trading Co. In between, I …

  • Ate an exquisite smorgasbord at Aquavit with Karlsson’s vodka reps (that’s right, I said vodka) and a bunch of sassy bartenders from L.A. and San Francisco.
  • Drank punch at Death & Co. and tequila at the Summit Bar.
  • Heard Fritz Maytag of Anchor Brewing and Distilling chronicle his 15-year adventure in craft distilling and sampled his 100-percent-rye Old Potrero whiskies.*
  • Enjoyed Laird’s apple brandy cocktails at the “official bar of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic” and met the 230-year-old distillery’s vice president, Lisa Laird Dunn.
  • Took detours to McSorley’s Old Ale House and Jimmy’s No. 43 for a few rounds of beer.
  • Entered a phone booth at Crif Dog from which I slipped into PDT (Please Don’t Tell) for a Romeo y Julieta, a rich, woody concoction involving Ron Zacapa Centenario rum and tobacco essence.
  • Sipped a Mai Tai accompanied by exotica music and the squawking of live parrots at the exclusive (because it’s in somebody’s apartment) Rhum Rhum Room.
  • Heard the engaging story of how cocktails migrated from America to Europe circa 1870-1940 (thanks, David Wondrich and Fernando Castellon).
  • Checked out a special tasting of new and unusual rums, whiskies, aperitif wines and syrups at wd-50.
  • Drank a 1940s-era Scorpion Bowl out of a two-foot-long straw at an Appleton Estate Rum party at the brand-new Painkiller urban tiki bar.
  • Clinked vintage cocktail glasses with my writer girlfriends at the new, Victorian-parlor-inspired Raines Law Room.
  • Arrived too late to get a cocktail at the Tanqueray 10 party at the Kingswood and was grateful to be handed a glass of Haus Alpenz’ newest import, the aperitivo Cocchi Americano, instead.


So, as you can see, the opportunities for learning, schmoozing, tasting and debauchery at the first official Manhattan Cocktail Classic were slim.

But seriously … this four-day intoxinalia is clearly meant to rival Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans as a confab for professionals and enthusiasts alike to get acquainted with the latest products, recipes and industry knowledge and to hobnob with the illuminati of the cocktail and spirits world.

One of the advantages the MCC has over Tales is that there are many more serious cocktail bars in New York than in New Orleans, and those bars hold their own seminars in addition to the events taking place in the Astor Center — and in addition to being open during regular business hours. Also, every event featured real glassware, and the vast majority of the cocktails were well made despite being cranked out for thousands of people. The hospitality infrastructure in New York quite simply gets the job done.


The disadvantages of the MCC vs. Tales have to do with all those things about New York that get under people’s skin: the frenetic pace and social jockeying involved in a typical night out, the difficulty of getting into exclusive speakeasy-style bars and, of course, the expense. Tickets to MCC events start at $50 (the gala was $100). Add lodging, cabs and dining out and … whoa. Still, it was a blast.

Tags: ,
Posted in Booze in the news, Cocktails, NYC | 7 Comments »

April 2nd, 2010

Nips – 4/2/10


A few items to wet your whistle this month as springtime alternately entices and enrages us like a temperamental lover…

» Cheap drinks. Thank you, Boston magazine, for this article on where to get bargain cocktails around greater Boston. The list features establishments that sell mixed drinks for as little as $5.75 (for a Sazerac at Grendel’s Den in Harvard Square — formidable!) and no more than $10. Many of Boston’s best bars are included, which brings up a good point. I don’t think any of the “craft” cocktail bars in the city charge more than $12 for a cocktail, and several charge less than that. Yes, $12 is a nice chunk of change, but it’s not exactly $15 or $18 or whatever it is that swank nightclubs and hotel bars charge for the privilege of consuming an underchilled vodka martini on their glamorous premises. Generally, the creed of better cocktail bars has been that if you are forking over $10 or more for a drink, it should contain good ingredients (quality spirits, fresh juice, real grenadine, etc.), have balanced flavors (this usually involves measuring), be properly shaken or stirred, and be served with hospitality.

» Bar rules. Patrick Maguire, the blogger behind I’m Your Server Not Your Servant, has published a handy list of 64 Suggestions for Bar Customers. A couple gems: Rule # 12. “If you’re standing in the bar area, be aware that the folks seated at the bar need space too, particularly if they are eating.  It’s annoying for a seated customer to get bumped repeatedly by people standing behind or around them.” Rule # 45. “Don’t ask, Why don’t we get one?, loud enough for everyone to hear when a bartender announces something is on-the-house to someone sitting next to you. There’s a reason why they’re getting a complimentary treat and it’s none of your business.” If Maguire starts circulating photos of habitual offenders like they did in Edwardian England, look out.

» Manhattan Cocktail Classic. For cocktailians, if it’s springtime, it must be World Cocktail Week (May 6-13, 2010). The Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans launched the concept practically in tandem with the museum’s founding in 2005. Basically, MOTAC encourages bars and cocktail enthusiasts to throw a collective, worldwide party in celebration of one of our nation’s greatest inventions. As it tends to do, Manhattan has gone whole hog in this endeavor with the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, which launched in pilot mode last October and is debuting as a full-blown event May 14-18. If you’re planning on going, get your tickets now, as they are expected to sell out quickly. Meanwhile, drinkboston has a little World Cocktail Week party of its own in the works, so stay tuned.

» 19th century pub crawl. I have to admit I’m a bit ruffled that a group of New Yorkers, of all things, has organized a 19th century pub crawl in Boston, of all places. But hey, history is history and drinking is drinking. The crawl, led by the New York Nineteenth Century Society, begins at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 10. It starts and ends with 19th-century cocktails at Eastern Standard and Drink, respectively, and in between hits the Red Hat Café, Union Oyster House and Bell in Hand Tavern. The promo says, “Appropriate nineteenth century attire is encouraged, but by no means required.” Phew, ’cause I think I left my whalebone corset in a cab after drinking too much Fish House Punch.

» It’s official. We exist. Wow, this must be the NYC edition of Nips. The Village Voice has deemed Boston’s cocktail scene “not far behind” New York’s, praising us for our lack of “handlebar mustache and speakeasy aesthetic.” Um … thanks. The bars Drink, Eastern Standard and Craigie on Main and the cocktail supply shop the Boston Shaker all get mentions. Congrats to all!

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in Boston bars, Cocktails, Nips | 4 Comments »

August 28th, 2009

Nips – 8/28/09


Liquors launched. Bols Genever and Absolut Boston launched in Beantown recently. You will see the former at the city’s best cocktail bars. You will see the latter everywhere else.

Genever is an old Dutch spirit that, while it gave birth to modern-day, London dry gin, is in its own category. You could call it the whiskey drinker’s white spirit. It’s made with malted grain, same as whiskey, so it has a depth of flavor even before botanicals are added. If you want to time travel back to the days when Jerry Thomas was mixing up Improved Holland Gin Cocktails, this is your vehicle. Cocktail Virgin Slut and C. Fernsebner of the Bostonist both did fine writeups of the Bols Genever launch party at Drink.

As for Absolut Boston, what can I say? It’s from the benchmark vodka brand whose brilliant marketing made it an icon and launched the category of premium vodka into the stratosphere. It’s part of a series of special-edition flavors inspired by cities, in our case black tea (historically apt) and elderflower (currently trendy). It’ll sell like gangbusters.

bartender-raceBartenders on the move. Wow, where to begin? With the ladies — the Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails, that is. Joy Richard (aka Bourbon Belle) left her longtime gig managing Tremont 647 to manage and work the bars at both Franklin Cafes (South End and Southie). She is kicking cocktails up to a new level at these beloved neighborhood spots. Emma Hollander (aka Hot Toddy) also left Tremont 647 and will christen the shakers at Trina’s Starlite Lounge in Cambridge (where the Abbey used to be), whose soft opening should begin next week.

Now for the men. Andy “Hunter S. Thompson” McNees is moving from Green Street in Central Square to Toro in the South End. His esteemed colleague Nathan Bice (aka “just Bice”) is heading slightly northwest to Highland Kitchen in Somerville. Speaking of Highland Kitchen, I should also mention that Claudia Mastrobuono is leaving the bar there to go back to school. I’ll miss her skills and no-nonsense attitude. Meanwhile, joining Dylan Black and Emily Stanley behind the bar at Green Street are Colin Kiley, lately of Central Kitchen, and Joel Mack, lately of Deep Ellum in Allston (and Redbones before that). And to complete the circle, Patrick Sandlin just stepped behind the bar at Deep Ellum after managing Bukowski in Boston. Finally, Ben Sandrof will no longer be working behind the bar at Drink — or any bar at all for that matter (sniff). But he’ll remain a key figure in Boston’s booze world with his new career in wholesale at M.S. Walker. Whew! That was dizzying. If I’m missing anyone, let me know.

Manhattan & Montreal. If you missed Tales of the Cocktail and have a hankerin’ to schmooze and booze with fellow cocktailians from around the globe, you should get tickets to the Manhattan Cocktail Classic Fall Preview on October 3 and 4. This is a mini-conference to prep for a larger event in May, and, given the buzz I’ve heard, it could be a quick sellout. The details are still vague, but all you really need to know is that these are the organizers. Oh, I hear there are a few good cocktail bars in Manhattan, too. Tickets go on sale Labor Day weekend. Book your hotel now. Speaking of Tales and Manhattan, read On the Rocks, It’s a New Landscape in the New York Times if you haven’t already.

As for Montreal, I’m seeking news rather than reporting it. Specifically, does anyone know of any connections between the bar/restaurant scene in Montreal and the bar/restaurant scene in Boston? Like, Boston bar owners who are from Montreal, Boston bars that are using ice wine from Quebec, or dedicated barflies who divide their lives between the two cities… Anyone?

Tags: , ,
Posted in Bartenders, Books & resources, Booze in the news, Cocktails, Gin, Nips, Vodka, Whiskey | 15 Comments »