Once again, I joined the masses, the cocktail masses, that is, in New York City for the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. And once again, I had a fabulous weekend. There were familiar friends and new faces, the laughs seemed endless, and of course, there were more cocktails than I can (or care to) count. This year my adventures took me all over NYC from the Gala at the NY Public Library to the Lower East Side then to Queens and Brooklyn and then back to the upper West Side. Here are some moments and cocktails that stand out amongst the rest:
My MCC experience began Friday evening at Napoleon House—a penthouse suite party at the Andaz Hotel hosted by Mandarine Napoleon. With the bar manned by the fabulous San Francisco bar trio known as The Bon Vivants, the party was the perfect way to kick off the weekend. I mean, who doesn’t want to hang out on an 11th floor balcony sipping delicious cocktails? Look at the view:
Josh, Steve and Alex, The Bon Vivants, are super nice and mixed up some great drinks. Mandarine Napoleon, is new to me. Although I recently got a bottle, I haven’t experimented much with it. Well, now I know what to do. The Leroi Crusta, my first official cocktail of MCC 2012, with its combination of sweet, tart, spicy ginger, and bitter Fernet, stands out.
Leroi Crusta (created by The Bon Vivants, San Francisco)
1 ½ oz Mandarine Napoleon
½ oz Fernet Branca
1 oz lemon juice
½ oz ginger syrup
Shake and serve over crushed ice with a sugar rimmed glass.
Yes, Angostura is a classic that can be found on just about every bar, even the home bar of a cocktail neophyte, but sometimes we need a little reminding of the wonders of something right in front of our eyes. As sponsors of the “Official Bar” at the Andaz, home base for industry folks (a new feature to this year’s festivities), Angostura showcased the versatility of this venerable bar staple in both cocktails and food. I took the taste test and agreed that a gin and tonic is improved by Angostura. And it is also good in brunch classics, hello, biscuits and Hollandaise. One of my favorite drinks of the weekend was the Angostura Eye Opener, the perfect cocktail to get us going after Friday night’s gala.
Angostura Eye Opener
1 ½ oz white peach puree
½ oz Aperol
¼ oz St. Germain
2 dashes Angostura orange bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
Mix over ice. Strain into a flute and top with 4 oz sparkling wine.
Experimental Cocktail Club
We took a break from MCC events Saturday night and made our way down to the Lower East Side to the newly opened Experimental Cocktail Club. Inspired by its European counterparts, the vibe is comfortable, sophisticated, cool. The hospitality is fantastic—and I’m not just saying that because my friend CoCo took excellent care of us.
One of the best and most interesting things I drank all weekend was the Mancora that I had at ECC. [The entire menu looks amazing, we sampled five drinks, but I wish we had more stamina and could have tried the entire lot. Next visit to NYC, I will definitely make another visit.] The Mancora was made with Chai Roiboos-infused La Diablada Pisco, Malbec wine syrup, lime juice, Dolin Rouge sweet vermouth, and a Fernet rinse. I admit on the menu this drink looked to be a bit much—how would all those flavors work together? But CoCo suggested I get it and I was not at all disappointed. It was earthly and rich, slightly tart and herbally. Really unique. Really delicious.
Hendrick’s Gin at Dutch Kills
Our Sunday began in Queens at Dutch Kills for a Behind the Bar event. We were greeted by owner Richard Boccato, grabbed seats at the back bar and were quickly shaken a delicious Harvard Veritas, a yummy Sidecar variation with Hendrick’s (the event’s sponsor), Combier, lemon and a barspoon of Cassis. We then heard a bit about the story of how Dutch Kills came to be, an overview with tastings of the components that make up Hendrick’s gin from Jim Ryan (who I should note has been nominated for a Spirit Award at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail for Best International Spirits Rep), and quite a bit about ice from Zac Gelnaw-Rubin of Hundred Weight Ice, whose shop is next door to Dutch Kills.
1 ½ oz Hendrick’s gin
1 oz Combier
½ oz lemon
Barspoon of Cassis
Shake over ice. Strain into coupe.
These highlights just scratch the surface of the many delicious cocktails and good times had—wait, I just remembered our cab ride up the West Side Highway singing “And She Was” by Talking Heads. Best cab driver ever! Until next year MCC, Cheers!