Seen-it-all New Yorkers have a reputation for
being hard to impress – but even the most jaded attendees of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic's opening
gala say it is a night worth looking forward to.
the evening of 17 May, Midtown's famous main branch
of the New York Public
Library will transform from a sanctuary of hushed
voices and scholarly intent to one of refined hedonism as more than 3,000 black
tie-attired revellers fill every nook and cranny of the massive library and sample
an unlimited assortment of cocktails created for the evening.
takes up all four floors of the library, which spans two city blocks
overlooking Bryant Park. Liquor brands from all over the
world are represented at the Classic, showcasing the most inventive cocktails
their bartenders could dream up. Offerings range from inspired twists on mainstays
such as the classic martini and sidecar to
creative, even outlandish tipples; last year's event featured dry ice
rum cocktails and booze-infused popsicle carts.
the drinks at the gala are the cause of the celebration,
they are just the start of the party – the opportunities to eat
are just as enticing. According to the Classic's website, last year's gala saw
5,000 oysters and just as many meatball sliders consumed, not to mention more
than 300 pounds each of jumbo shrimp and charcuterie. And it's always
worthwhile to be on the lookout for fancifully dressed servers proffering
slightly heartier fare –past years' offerings have included mac-and-cheese
bites and mini Greek-inspired gyro sandwiches.
Gustatory overload aside, the Classic is a visual, auditory and tactile
spectacle. Previous years have seen Cirque du
Soleil-style acrobats hanging from the rafters of
the library's basement, a 12-piece orchestra playing songs popular during Prohibition
and five old-school barbers in a pop-up grooming shop to freshen up any
scraggly-bearded gentlemen, gratis, on the spot.
This year's Classic will feature a special tribute to liquors conceived and
created in New York state; 24 of the state's local distilleries
will showcase their wares, with nine coming from the borough of
Brooklyn, just across the East River.
VIP tickets for the Gala are still
available, but for those intent on a more affordable way
the evening serves as a kick off for a full week of more
modestly priced cocktail
events all over Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.
Tickets for the
finest, a few of which are listed below, are
Culinary tour of lower Manhattan
On 19 May,
New York mixologist Pamela Wiznitzer leads a guided, Sunday afternoon tour of lower
Manhattan's culinary scene from a bartender's point of view, pairing a
three-course meal's worth of delicacies with some of the world's most beloved single malt scotches. The tour kicks off at the Dead Rabbit one
of the Financial District's most-loved cocktails bars.
Weird Science: Master Mixology
On 20 May, East Village cocktail bar Pouring Ribbons serves as the venue
for this lesson
in drinking with Mandarine Napoleon, an orange-flavoured cognac liquor that
has been around since the era of Napoleon Bonaparte. Attendees will get an
overview of the liquor’s
history before trying
at creating a drink with the help of American Bartender of the Year
Social Mixology: Unchained
secrecy is part of
the venue for the Tuesday
on 21 May remains undisclosed to the public and is emailed to ticket purchasers
prior to the evening. Once everyone is gathered, eight of America's savviest
mixologists will gather in one room to reveal their predictions for the next
big thing in cocktail making. These are the same minds that conceived
barrel-aged cocktails, carbonated drinks, and alcoholic ice cream – there is no
telling what they will come up with this time around.