A Look Back at the Fourth Annual Manhattan Cocktail Classic
Our favorite events, cocktail dens, and newly discovered spirits

Now that the alcohol-induced haze has started to settle, let’s take a look back at the week-long cocktail party that is the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. The week kicked off with their glamorous annual Gala held at the New York Public Library and from that starting point not a guest in attendance found their glass empty. MCC spirit lovers attended tasting after tasting, seminars and lectures, cocktail parties and good old fashion bar hopping in celebration of all things cocktail related. Joonbug, like many in the city, looked forward to the 2013 Manhattan Cocktail Classic and attended as many events as our livers could handle. Here’s a rundown of our favorite events along with our new favorite cocktail den, and spirits and products we discovered along the way.

Fashion & Foodies

Before the MCC even began Bollare hit the bottle with their Fashion & Foodies: Cocktail Edition at the Isola Mondrian SoHo on May 12th. The event celebrated Bollare’s seventh anniversary and their three years in NYC. The night brought together a fusion of fashion, food, art and entertainment with attendees including Paula Knight, Fashion Director of the Wall Street Journal, Ara Katz, Founder of BeachMint, Senior Fashion Editor at Cosmo, Annie Tomlin, and Beauty Director at Refinery29 and Jewelry Designer Anna Sheffield among many others. Guests at Fashion & Foodies enjoyed an intimate sit-down dinner with course paired cocktails prepared with BluePrint and Bulldog Gin. The cocktails were infused with ingredients using SousVide Supreme, a revolutionary new vacuum sealed cooking process that infuses liquor in just two hours rather than 3-5 weeks. Notable drinks at the Fashion & Foodies events were the Chile Cooler (pictured) made with bell pepper, cilantro and arugula infused Bulldog Gin, BluePrint lemon, cayenne and agave juice and the Green Smoke, a cocktail mixed with pasilla and chipotle infused Bulldog Gin, BluePrint green juice, and SousVide limoncello.


100 Years of Grand Central Cocktails: Behind the Bar at the Campbell Apartment

This year celebrates the 100th birthday of Grand Central Terminal and what better way to celebrate the historic New York City landmark than by raising a glass of cocktails from the era in which the station was built? Too bad field trips in high school weren’t paired with cocktails. Maybe you would have paid closer attention all of those times you visited the Museum of Natural History with school. This event was held in the spectacular Campbell Apartment, a once private office of a well-known NYC financier turned turn of the last century cocktail lounge located within Grand Central. Hosted by father and son mixologists Jeffery and Jonathan Pogash (of The Cocktail Guru) gave a glimpse into the glamorous Prohibition-era parties that John Campbell held in is private ground floor office through a tasting of three cocktails likely served at Campbell’s parties. The first cocktail served was a Rum Punch made with Santa Teresa Rum, lemon peel, super fine sugar, bitters, and water. Made with just five ingredients this simple cocktail recipe came from an 1827 Oxford University Press book on nightcaps. We learned that punch comes from the Hindi word ponce, meaning five. This new found punch knowledge earned us a tequila shot at another event highlighted below! Next up was the classic Scotch whiskey drink the Rob Roy. Named after a popular 1894 operetta, the cocktail was created in the Waldorf Hotel (located where the Empire State Building now stands) gentleman’s bar where legendary authors of the time, Mark Twain and Jack London, are said to have enjoyed the cocktail. Essentially a Manhattan made with Scotch whiskey, a Rob Roy is made with Dewar’s White Label, orange and Angostura bitters, and an orange peel. Following the Rob Roy was the ever-fluid Gin Daisy cocktail. This gin-based drink is meant to be adapted to suit the mixologist’s style and palette of the consumer but the most bare bones, original adaptation is simply gin, lemon juice, and grenadine, a mixer first recorded in a cocktail recipe dating back to a recipe book printed in 1917. The Gin Daisy served featured Hendricks’s Gin with rose petal and cucumber notes, lemon juice, and freshly prepared grenadine (simple syrup with pomegranate juice).


A Deliciously Decadent Afternoon of Chocolate and Cocktails

Can you think of a better way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon than sipping craft cocktails and spirits while noshing on some fine desserts and chocolates? We couldn’t either and that’s exactly why we jumped at the chance to attend the second annual Chocolate and Cocktails event held at Astor Center’s upstairs event space. Sponsored by Valrhona Chocolates, the walk-around tasting event featured NYC’s premier chocolatiers and pastry chefs who then paired their desserts with chocolate-friendly spirits. Set up at the bar, chocolate purists and cocktail lovers had the opportunity to taste Valhrona’s signature chocolates with custom libations designed to bring out the best in each chocolate variety. Our favorite dessert pairings from the event were Kingswood’s Warm Cardamom-Dusted Donut with Otucan chocolate ganache paired with Patron XO Café Liqueur, Recette’s Spicy Otucan Chocolate Mousse with coffee gelée and brown butter cake paired with Van Gogh Dark Double Espresso Vodka, Francois Payard’s FP Patisserie’s Triple Chocolate Valrhona Macaron Collection (Guanaja dark chocolate with cocoa nibs, Oplays white chocolate with fresh vanilla beans, Caramelia milk chocolate and salted caramel) all paired with Sandeman Port, and from The Lambs Club, a Dark Otucan Chocolate Cake with Pama Pomegranate Liqueur and hazelnut liqueur paired with Pama Pomegranate Liqueur and a splash of club soda. From the bar side, which featured five of New York’s top bartenders creating custom cocktails expertly paired with Valrhona bite size chocolates. Of the five bartenders and the ten drinks they each created our favorites were mixed by the ladies. Jessica Dure’s Pucci Pucci was made with Half Moon Gin, Pimm’s #1, lemon juice, cold brew coffee, Rob Crab Coffee Pecan Bitters, and sparkling apple cider paired with Valrhona Caramelia 36% and Jennifer Ferreira’s Moon Unit, a cocktail made using Benedictine, El Dorado Rum, lime, Perfect Puree Caramelized Pineapple, and cayenne pepper paired with a 69% Valrhona Otucan chocolate.


Culture Cocktails at 67 Orange Street

On Monday night Joonbug headed up to Harlem to check out the Culture Cocktails event at 67 Orange Street, a cocktail speakeasy full of uptown style and sophistication. The event showcased bartenders from different backgrounds from around NYC. The participating mixologists were given free reign over the 67 Orange Street bar in order to design cocktails on the spot that represented their cultural background. The cocktails were then handed out to the audience and judges: actress and PR professional, Sidra Smith, owner of Louis 649, Zachary Sharaga, and Bacardi Portfolio Manage for NYC, Philip Pepperdine. Karl Franz Williams, owner of 67 Orange, created a welcome cocktail, a rum punch, to celebrate his Caribbean heritage that was not judged by judges but was the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. Inspired by his Long Island heritage, Andrew Ryan Hormann of Harlem Food Bar created a pineapple-vodka cocktail while second contestant Keshaun Luke of Corner Social garnered inspiration from his Jamaican roots to create a lime, grapefruit, and St. Germaine cocktail, and last up was resident bartender, Eric Michael Langa representing 67 Orange Street in the competition. Eric, inspired by the New England culture of New Hampshire created a cocktail of chocolate bitters, grapefruit, Bacardi and Apple Jack Pear Brandy. Hosted by Bacardi’s Portfolio Manager for NY, Colin Appiah, the contestants were each given 15 minutes to complete their cocktails before being judged on taste, complexity, creative link to culture, and crowd pleasing. The ultimate winner was 67 Orange Street’s own, Eric who won in the sudden death round against Keshaun!

The Independent Spirits Expo

In a world of corporate mega spirits and enough cocktail recipes to make your head spin there are smaller, boutique spirit companies distilling small batch spirits that are beginning to make more and more noise as the growth of the craft cocktail industry continues to flourish without any hint of slowing down. The Indie Spirits Expo brings together distillers, importers, brand owners, and of course liquid libation lovers together to showcase artisan spirits from around the globe in this walk around tasting event at the historic Penn Club. This year’s expo featured a lot more lady distillers, which we obviously LOVE. In an industry that is predominately male it was refreshing to see more and more women breaking into the distillery industry. Here’s a glimpse into three women-owned and operated distillers we discovered at the 2013 Indie Spirits Expo:

Pür Likör

New to the United States is Pür Likör, a line of ”spirituous” beverages created by Kiki Braverman, a native of Germany, who literally has distilling in her DNA. A third-generation distiller, Kiki’s company has a “micro” distillery in Southern Germany where they distill such varieties as elderflower liqueur, blood orange liqueur, and a bierbrand, a spirit distilled from malted barley.

Owney’s Original Rum

Opening her distillery, the Noble Experiment NYC, in 2012, Hurricane Sandy proved that Bridget C. Firtle was meant to be a distiller. Although her distillery itself was damaged by the storm, the bar inside came through in one piece. Her first release, Owney’s Original Rum, named after infamous bootlegger and owned of the Cotton Club during Prohibition, Owney Madden, is a dry, flavorful white sipping rum made from simple ingredients. With no artificial colors or additives, Owney’s is made of all-natural sugarcane and non-GMO molasses  

Uncouth Vermouth

Based in Red Hook Brooklyn, Uncouth Vermouth uses local and sustainable products whenever possible. Founder, Bianca Miraglia sources her ingredients from either “untouched areas or purchased from a farm that does not succumb to modification and is preferably non-profit.” With the thinking that “what grows together, goes together” Bianca uses seasonal ingredients to produce seasonal flavors of vermouth that go well with seasonal meals. Due to vermouth's short shelf life, store your Uncouth Vermouth in the fridge and if you can’t drink it all there’s plenty of options to cook with your unfinished bottle before it spoils. Uncouth Vermouth comes in flavors such as Apple Mint, Pear Ginger, Beet Eucalyptus, and more.