It was that time a year again. And what a time it was! Since I sadly won't be making it to Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans this summer, I gave myself permission to indulge at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic (though not the gala at the Public Library) instead.
Seven events. One liver. Here's a recap:
Saturday: Pegu Club, Stories Behind the Bar. I had heard how great this booze-infused lecture by owner Audrey Saunders, about her way up in the cocktail world (I almost said "cockisphere" and realized that just. wasn't. right.) had been the year before. I anticipated the same type of experience this time round. But instead we (myself, my dear friend Ruth and a small bunch of enthusiasts) got a valuable cocktail lesson from head bartender Kenta Goto, plus a full bar set courtesy of Erick Castro and Plymouth Gin! We learned which drinks to stir and which to shake and why, by making them and tasting the right and wrong way side by side, then how different proofs also affect flavor. Then Audrey herself gave us some pointers. A really great and worthwhile afternoon in a beautiful bar that I wish I could visit more often.
I knew that after this I'd be going for Japanese food. This was clearly a job for the Kamikaze Toucan dress!
Later, my friend Liza constructed a temporary sculpture from the bar set.
Sunday: The British Invasion party at Eleven Madison Park. After a week of flawless sunshine, of course right in time for an outdoor party, the weather shifted into what became a vicious cycle of misty gray. No matter. The "patio" (a.k.a. outdoor covered entrance) was fitted with tables, a Beatles cover band, a bar, Union be-Jacked wait staff, a bull dog and clever art direction for a smashing good time.
BEST dang fish and chips I ever ate. Lots of.
Penny the bulldog. No British Invasion can be without one (especially one this sweet and cute!). Photo courtesy of Jason Bylan.
The Crooners, who played great selections of the Beatles catalog from Skiffle beginnings to psychedelic finish. You haven't lived till you've heard "Helter Skelter" performed live in an NYC thunderstorm next to a park.
Shake it up, baby now! (sorry so blurry, was also twisting and shouting while shooting).
Oh, and I should mention another small detail. Servers who went round with teapots filled with Negronis, topping off those who had them. I had them. And then I had more. And then we went to Molly's and I ordered a Negroni there too. Hey, it was May British Invasion Day, not Judgement Day!
Monday (a.k.a The Boozy Doozy): Death's Door Gin Pig Roast at Hearth, Indy Spirits Expo, Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum and Espolon Tequila party in Marble Cemetery.
Somehow, my insides still stained bright orange Campari, I got myself up and made it to Hearth by noon for this spectacular feast. A whole pig was brought in by Wisconsin's Death Door Spirits and the folks at Hearth cooked it up any which wonderful way they could, cracklings and all.
And they made a cheese luge.
Later that day, great chats with peeps at the Indy Spirits Expo, which I didn't get to stay at terribly long before Rum and Pirates back at the Mother Ship (Astor Center). Fantastic discussion led by Dave Wondrich, Ed Hamilton (a former rum-runner, now heading the Ministry of Rum), cocktailian and general wiseman Dånny Ronen and Ron Zacapa's Danny Valdez. Awesome seminar, where we learned, among many things, that there were Jewish pirates! There is actually a book called Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean (although my brother-once-removed Jason pointed out it should be titled My Son, the Pirate). I want to read it! Dave made us a fab rum cocktail and Danny Valdez treated us to some divine Ron Zacapa XO.
Still time to make it to the last hour of the Espolon Tequila party in Marble Cemetery. Beautifully art directed, great friends to hang with, decent bites of food, but they ran out of juice for cocktails before the party ended! Not to mention, they should have done more to honor the dead besides having us drink over them. But still, a very cool happening I'm glad I got to be a part of.
Here's me in the shadows toasting by a grave (courtesy of Jason, as is the image above).
You always know you've had a great time when you find fun treats in your purse the next day. Here's Bruce with some things I found in it. He can never resist a photo op.
Tuesday: Mysticism and Magic, Connecting Spirits With Their Unique Cultural Heritages.
One last trip to the Astor Center Bar before the class, where representatives from Portland Cocktail Week were shaking things up at the bar. And yup, they put a bird on it! (Psst. They had a stencil and spray bitters. Genius.)
Mysticism and Magic was a great way to end four days of quality (mostly) imbibing. It was a seminar led by self-proclaimed drinks geek Andy Seymour, Del Maguey importer Ron Cooper, cocktail instructor extraordinaire Steve Olson, bartender and theologian Misty Kalkofen, Tippling Bros. cofounder Tad Carducci and another spot with Zacapa brand manager Danny Valdez. This was a discussion where the spiritual and spirited met with humor and cultural significance. Salud!!
All in all, a fantastic four days using our great city as the ultimate backdrop. Thanks to curator Lesley Townsend for making it all happen.