Manhattan Cocktail Classic Recap

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New York got its roaring ’20s on at the Fifth Annual  Manhattan Cocktail Classic‘s kick off gala last night at the 42nd Street branch of the New York Public Library. It was the perfect venue for feeling glam. Over 100 different drinks were served by roughly150 craft bartenders, making it one heck of a big cocktail party. The Gala kicked off the festival’s five days of events across four boroughs, including in-depth seminars, field trips, tastings and celebrations.

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Over 70 spirits brands participated.  Big brands like Grey Goose had their own private entrance, and room, where Questlove eventually set up shop at the DJ Booth. But, before all that, guests cascaded up and down the stairs at the grand event, where tables upon tables were set up with hand-crafted cocktails from houses like Ramazzotti, Pisco, Campari, Hangar 1, Cruz Tequila. Kettle One and more. Smaller, more local brands were on hand, too. Like Aviation Gin. And with them came the prerequisite  vest-wearing mixologist sporting a big, burley beard (because handlebar moustaches are so 2013).

Hangar 1 did things a bit differently. They helped welcome their new distiller Caley Shoemaker with a “Craft in a Glass” Lounge in the Berger Room on the second floor. There, six artisanal female bartenders from New York and San Fran created original cocktails in honor of women doing their thing. That’s right. The entire room was dedicated to ladies who can mix a drink. I loved this because women in the booze industry need their fair share or respect and because I am really over men with tight vests and bow ties serving me drinks (with puddles of sweat under their arms because vests are really just too hot for working a bar!).  Caley is one of the first female distillers of her generation to lead a major brand’s distillery, so it’s kind of a big deal.  On hand were Julie Reiner (Clover Club, NYC), Natasha David (Nitecap, NYC), Caitlin Laman (Trick Dog, San Francisco), Jane Elkins (Tavern on the Green, NYC), Pam Wiznitzer (The Dead Rabbit, NYC) and Lacy Hawkins (The NoMad, NYC). I loved Jane’s cocktail: a simple cocktail of muddles lemon, Hangar 1, apricot preserves and soda water shaken in a mason jar. I normally hate mason jars for anything other than jarring, but this was a great idea because I could close and shake up the drink whenever I felt it needed it.

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Julie Reiner’s cocktail was a hit, natch. She used Cocchi Americano Rosa (kind of a sweet vermouth) mixed with Hangar 1, orange bitters and Ramazotti Amaro to create a drink that replicated flavor profile of whiskey, which people are having a moment with right now.  Like a non-Old Fashioned Old Fashioned.

Other drinks sipped at the event : gin gimlet, Americano, way too many Old Fashioneds, and loads of orange enhanced drinks. Oranges are gonna be big this summer.

Recipes:

Julie Reiner (Clover Club, NYC)

A classic cocktail with a twist

Gotham

1 ½ oz Hangar 1 Vodka

1 ½ oz Cocchi Americano Rosa

¼ oz Ramazzotti Amaro

2 dashes orange bitters

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Stir and strain into a coupe glass

Garnish: Orange twist

Glassware: Coupe glass/5 oz Champagne glass

Lacy Hawkins (The NoMad, NYC)

A cooling concoction for spring and summer imbibing

Golden Bear Punch

1 ½ oz Hangar

1 Vodka

1 oz Cocchi Barolo Chinato

½ oz verjus

½ oz lime juice

½ oz honey syrup (2:1)

Quick shaken with a cucumber slice, poured over a giant ice cube in a punch bowl. Top with 1 oz bubbles. (Quantities scaled for one cocktail)

Garnish: Frozen green grapes and English cucumber wheels.

Glassware: Teacup

Natasha David (Nitecap, NYC)

A spirits-forward nightcap epitomizing East Coast tippling

After Dark

1 ½ oz Hangar 1 Vodka

1 ½ oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth

½ oz Clear Creek Distillery Pear Eau de Vie

1 dash Absinthe

Stir over ice and strain into coupe.

Garnish: Floating cucumber slice

Glassware: Coupe glass/5 oz Champagne glass

Caitlin Laman (Trick Dog, San Francisco)

A fresh ingredient-driven tipple embodying the West Coast style

The Left Coast

1 ½ oz Hangar 1 Vodka

¾ oz Cappelletti Aperitivo

¾ oz lemon juice

½ oz Small Hand Foods Pineapple Gum Syrup

1 barspoon rich simple syrup (2:1)

Fresh strawberries

Mint

Build in a highball glass. Muddle fresh strawberries and mint, add ice, top with soda water.

Garnish: Mint sprig and strawberry slice

Glassware: Highball glass

Jane Elkins (Tavern on the Green, NYC)

A brunch-friendly quaff

Dawn’s Early Light

2 oz Hangar 1 Vodka

¾ lemon, sliced

2 tbsp apricot preserves

Combine ingredients in small, airtight container, such as a jam jar. Muddle ingredients with wooden spoon. Add ice. Shake for 20 seconds to chill. Top with a splash of club soda.

Garnish: NoneGlassware:

Jam jar

On-Site Execution: There are two ways to executive this. Jane can pre-batch small mason jars. To serve, she will add ice and shake it up or have the guests shake it themselves. Alternatively, she can simply shake up a couple at a time at the event to make them quickly. We prefer the jam jars, since they’re photogenic and interactive.

Pam Wiznitzer (The Dead Rabbit, NYC)

A low-calorie libation

The Skinny Bean

1 ½ oz Hangar 1 Vodka

2 ½ oz iced coffee

1 oz unsweetened almond milk

1 packet Nectresse sweetener

2 drops vanilla extract

2 drops hazelnut extract

Combine ingredients in a shaker. Shake and strain into a highball glass with a straw.

Garnish: Pre-rimmed glass with a mixture of vanilla sugar, made with Nectresse, and ground coffee.

Glassware: Highball glass