MCC – how classic it was!

The Manhattan Cocktail Classic began  on the evening of May 14th with a VIP gala at the NY Public Library.  Mind you, books were not a priority at this event.  The priority, it seemed, was to cool off, as it felt like 100 degrees plus inside.  Fortunately, I was holed up in a measly 3,500 square foot gallery room at the top of the library, in air conditioning heaven.  Man, were we lucky up there in that BACARDI USA room!

Working the Gala

You may have spotted me mixing up some Bombay gin cocktails, along with some of my pals from the NY chapter of the USBG.  The volume was high, and so were the spirits.  We banged out some amazing cocktails and felt satisfied as the evening came to a close around 2am.  We were ready for what was in store for us as the festival waned on.

The Martinez

1 1/2 oz. Bombay Dry Gin

3/4 oz. Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth

1/4 oz. Luxardo Maraschino liqueur

2 dashes angostura bitters

Stir ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Garnish with an orange peel

Jonathan squared - myself and Jonathan Forester at the Astor Bar

The main bar at Astor Center was a great way for folks to taste cocktails created by some of the best bartenders around the world.  I was in great company behind that bar – Ricky Gomez (formerly of NOLA, now in Portland), and Joaquin Simo (of PDT), just to name a couple.  Saturday through Tuesday, the Astor bar and the seminars led by industry greats, drew crowds from across the world.  No other event in Manhattan could even compare to the talent, education, and cocktail expertise that converged for this four-day festival.  I was mixing up some Bacardi and Corzo Tequila cocktails throughout the early afternoon on Saturday and Sunday.  Boy did I have fun.

Corzo by the Pool

2 oz. Corzo Silver Tequila

3/4 oz. Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur

5 one-inch chunks of watermelon

5-7 mint leaves

Process: In a mixing glass, muddle the watermelon and mint.  Then add remaining ingredients and shake well with ice.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Garnish: watermelon rind twist and watermelon slice

Saturday evening saw an aperitif cocktail party held at the new Empire Room at the Empire State Building.  Pernod Ricard USA, with their Gins of England (Beefeater and Plymouth), led a competition amongst USBG members to create the best aperitif cocktail.  Lindsay Nader (PDT), Ted Henwood (Auchentoshan single malt), and Brian Matthys (Izakaya 10), all competed their hearts out for the opportunity to walk home with a Jim Meehan bar bag.  You know the ones – beautiful brown leather, high-quality Japanese barware inside…

French  75 with 24

1 1/2 oz. Beefeater 24

1/2 oz.  fresh lemon juice

1/2 oz. simple syrup

sparkling wine

Shake first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a chilled champagne flute.  Top with the sparkling wine.

Garnish with a lemon peel

Ted Henwood ultimately took the prize with his sage and ginger mixture.  We also enjoyed some Beefeater 24 and Beefeater Summer cocktails.  A very special treat, indeed.

There I am with Chicago bartender and USBG Illinois member Jennifer Contraveos at the Aperitif party.

Fast forward to Monday and one of the most awe-inspiring cocktail competitions I’ve ever attended.  Albert Trummer, master of mixology and setting things on fire alike, has just opened his newest creation, Theater Bar.  This is a place to be seen and to see bartenders at their best.  The bar is raised up on a stage, and is outfitted with cameras for those close-ups of your favorite bartenders’ hands.  TV screens display exactly what’s going on on stage, so you feel like you are in the action – behind the bar – helping the bartenders’ churn out the specialty cocktails.

Don Q sure knows how to put on a competition.  USBG members from across the U.S. competed for the chance to join Team USBG in Puerto Rico for the finals.  Brian Matthys from NYC made it!  Congrats, bud!

Well, there it is folks.  I’ve glazed over much, I’m sure.  If you have an experience from this year’s MCC that you’d like to share, please feel free to post it as a comment.  I’d love to hear from you.

Until next year, MCC.  You’ve done me well.

More photos, from our friends at Lush Life Productions, can be found by clicking HERE.


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