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Wall Street Journal: Five Things We Learned at This Year’s Manhattan Cocktail Classic

May 21, 2012


From the Wall Street Journal:

Call it Boozeapalooza.

The Manhattan Cocktail Classic (MCC) wrapped up its third edition earlier this week – a 120-hour stretch (more or less) of sipping, sampling, drinking, guzzling and just plain ol’ partying. Launched as something of a rival to Tales of the Cocktail, the decade-old New Orleans spirits-world showcase, the New York event has built its own brand of buzz – pardon the pun – with events that appeal to the modern mixology cognoscenti and the up-till-all-hours crowd alike. We admit we fall more into the former camp – for us, the real attraction of MCC is the opportunity to try so many spirits and cocktails that defy convention – but we don’t mind watching the passing parade of partygoers.

With that in mind, here are some lessons learned from this year’s event:

1) That Fellini is alive and well: That spirit of hedonism associated with the Italian filmmaker was in full evidence at this year’s gala, held at the New York Public Library’s iconic main branch. OK, the rooms full of rare books were off limits, but most of the library’s public spaces, spread across three floors and a basement, were crammed with dozens of bars, the occasional stage (just in case you needed to get your groove on) and all sorts of sights and attractions. One could have easily sampled at least 100 highly inventive cocktails – and, yes, full pours were all part of the $150 price tag – using ingredients that ranged from the Asian vodka-like spirit soju (specifically, the Ty Ku brand) to a Scottish single malt (specifically, the smoky Ardbeg brand). But just as important as the drinking was the scene. We especially like the old-timey musical ensemble that was tapped to promote an American spirit and the shave-and-shoeshine station that was set up by the makers of New Amsterdam Gin – just in case you needed to spiff up while you sipped your drink.

2) That there’s no single way to party: In the days that followed the gala, spirits makers and New York City bars set up elaborate fetes and feasts to promote their businesses. The folks behind Campari, that daringly bitter Italian favorite, invited folks to party in honor of Count Negroni (the inventor of the popular Campari-based cocktail) at a hipster hangout in Brooklyn. A group of English gin makers – Plymouth and Beefeater, among them — held a lively, ‘60s-themed “British Invasion” bash (with a surprisingly great Rolling Stones cover band) at a Manhattan hotel’s rooftop bar. Oh, and if you like your spiked punch with a side of pig, there was the Pork Out Punch Party, held at another Brooklyn boite.

3) That rhum agricole is the new rum: Rhum Agricole is rum made with fresh cane juice (as opposed to garden-variety molasses) and it has a decidedly earthier, almost saltier flavor than your standard version of the sweetish spirit. MCC put a knockout Rhum Agricole, the Depaz brand from Martinique, on display at its Indie Spirits Expo (probably the best event that no one has heard of at MCC). Even better: Depaz also puts out its own cane syrup (basically, a richer version of simple syrup) and you can combine rum and syrup in a killer island punch.

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For more on this topic, visit http://blogs.wsj.com.


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