Posts Tagged ‘Manhattan Cocktail Classic’

WIND OF CHANGE

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Time marches on and sweeps liquor industry events along
By Francine Cohen

Photo by Charlotte Otto-Bruc

Photo by Charlotte Otto-Bruc

Earlier than normal today I was up, and so ready to take my morning walk. Though my timing this morning wasn’t the only change I experienced, it definitely was a harbinger of what was to come and a reflection of what was behind us. Rummaging through my middle drawer, in search of a tank top to throw under my limited edition Louis649 (RIP) hoodie, I came across three branded tank tops; two from past Pig & Punch (http://www.bonvivants.com/pig-n-punch/) events and one from Perfect Puree (www.perfectpuree.com/). All three got tucked back into the drawer for various reasons; Pig & Punch because I generally don’t like to wear branded merchandise – whatever the cause – though I bought them to support something I believe in (plus, let’s be honest, a men’s XL is probably not the most flattering cut on me); and the Perfect Puree one went back in too because though it fits nicely it says “Perfect to Play With” on it and my experience having worn that out in public before is that it results in uncalled for funny looks, comments and knowing smiles from strangers. So best to leave that, and the Pig & Punch ones, aside and just remember to pack them for yoga class at Tales (talesofthecocktail.com/).

Wait, what?! Did I just say “yoga class at Tales?” When did this become a thing? And how? And why? What happened to it being just about learning about spirits, drinking spirits, talking about spirits and doing that all over again all week long?

Well, the answer to the first part of that question is easy; it became a thing three years ago when Perfect Puree hosted pool-side yoga sessions led by Kitty Amman (www.shakestir.com/kirstenamann). And it became an even bigger thing last year when Dushan Zaric and Natalie Bovis and Patricia Richards banded together to create the healthy mind & body sessions that included yoga and meditation. It became an even bigger thing when Novo Fogo (www.novofogo.com/) did their take on exercise at Tales and sponsored a run and when Bols (www.bols.com/splash.php?u=/) sponsored a bike ride years back.

But this wasn’t the only thing we’ve seen changing at Tales. Nor in the industry itself. First it was the shock of stalwart attendees finding that they couldn’t be there one year, and then the next and then the next because they had other business elsewhere keeping them busy. And now more than ever bartenders and brand reps are focused on their health, wealth, and well being. Years ago at Tales you’d see a group of cocktail professionals go from late, late, late night carousing in New Orleans and operating on little to no sleep to attending seminars and crisscrossing the city en masse; like one giant school of fish. Back then it was easy to make plans with friends and colleagues from other cities because you all had to be in pretty much the same place at the same time.

Photo by Jeff Anding

Photo by Jeff Anding

As Tales has expanded more and more of these bartenders who were sitting in the seminars are now leading them. And the marketing and PR professionals who work with them are finding more and more opportunities for their clients to sponsor these seminars, events and local dining and drinking experiences so they too are running off in disparate directions. Scheduling a catch up has, in many cases, been reduced to promises of a fly-by hug in the doorway of SoBou (www.sobounola.com/), scheduling a 2 AM beer at The Chart Room or a 4:30 AM sing-along at Alibi (www.alibineworleans.com/). Knowing full well that the best laid plans of mice and men…

This is a far cry from six or so years ago when Lesley Townsend and I were first introduced in the lobby of the Monteleone (hotelmonteleone.com/) as she landed at her first Tales of the Cocktail, ready to explore what Ann Tuennerman had created and figure out how to adapt that to what would eventually become the beloved Manhattan Cocktail Classic (www.manhattancocktailclassic.com/). But, now that the MCC is, in the words of Gothamist, “…effectively dead…” and Tales marches on, it will be most interesting to be part of it all in year 12 and see what happens next.

Change keeps a-coming.

Photo by Chris Granger

Photo by Chris Granger

BOTTLES OVER BROADWAY

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

The Imbible Still

Ever hear the one about the bartender who wanted to be an actor… In what BourbonBlog calls “a first-of-its-kind production,” Anthony Caporale, co-founder of Broadway Theatre Studio, proudly presents THE IMBIBLE: A SPIRITED HISTORY OF DRINKING as part of the 18th annual New York International Fringe Festival – FringeNYC.

The drinks are on the house as you join world-renowned mixologist and raconteur Anthony Caporale for a boozy romp through the history of spirits and cocktails as he tells the story of spirits and cocktails from 10,000 BC to present-day, accompanied by The Backwaiters acappella group, comedy sketches, costume changes, and even on-stage demonstrations of fermentation and distillation. After seeing the preview performance of The Imbible at this year’s Manhattan Cocktail Classic, The Huffington Post declared the show “an absolute must-see!”

You must see how Anthony Caporale figured out how to bartend while he’s acting. He says, “We’ve been working on a one-man show that tells the story of spirits and cocktails from about 10,000 BC to present day. I’m fairly sure no one in the beverage industry has done this before in a stage play format, and I think it will give us an entirely new way to engage consumers.”

The Imbible Sheik

He continues, “If you’ve ever seen Robert Wuhl’s Assume The Position or Colin Quinn’s Long Story Short, you’ll have some idea of what I’ll be doing, though I’ve added live demonstrations of things like fermentation and distillation, lots of comedy, and even a barbershop quartet to provide musical transitions as the story moves across the centuries. Just to really put it over the top, I’ll also be serving drinks to the audience throughout the show! The whole point of the show is to help audiences appreciate spirits for their cultural and historical significance, as opposed to viewing them primarily as intoxicants or as part of a rite of passage. In short, we’re encouraging responsible consumption and promoting the beverage industry in the most positive light.”

The Imbible will run from August 8th through the 23rd at The New York International Fringe Festival (www.fringenyc.org), North America’s largest multi-arts festival that hosts over 70,000 attendees and is the birthplace of many New York theater hits. The audience will be treated to several of Caporale’s famous craft cocktails during the performance, including a classic Old Fashioned and the cleverly named Rusty Ale. By the end of the show, they just might be singing along with the cast! Drinks are included with the price of a ticket at all performances.

Broadway Theatre Studio (www.broadwaytheatrestudio.com) was founded by Caporale and DiMattei in 2009 as a development workshop and incubator for new American plays and musicals. Hundreds of actors have attended BTS workshops since its inception, and the company has collaborated with some of the best writing talent in New York. Past projects have included renowned playwright Jack Feldstein’s new comedy The Ansonia and award-winning playwright/composer Zoe Sarnak’s original musical The Quad. Last season, BTS produced original works in both the Manhattan Repertory Theatre One-Act Play Competition and the Strawberry One-Act Festival, advancing to the finals in the latter while earning DiMattei a Best Actress nomination along the way.

The Imbible Barbershop with Bombay on table

THE BEST DRINK I HAD ALL YEAR

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

What You Missed in 2012, What You Can Hope You’ll Find Something As Good As in 2013
By Jason Rowan

Best Drink image of bar by Jason Rowan

As we are deep in the middle of rooftop lounges and large scale cocktail party season with The Manhattan Cocktail Classic (www.manhattancocktailclassic.com) and Googa Mooga (www.brooklyngoogamooga.com) behind us and Tales of the Cocktail (wwww.talesofthecocktail.com) dancing immediately ahead on the calendar, it makes sense to sit back and really consider the cocktail.

Plenty of people will proclaim this (insert name here) cocktail they sipped during the MCC Gala or on the lawn of Brooklyn’s park or at (insert bar/rooftop lounge name here) or while wandering the tasting rooms at the Hotel Monteleone the “BEST COCKTAIL EVER!” but can it really be?

What makes a great cocktail? Is it just ingredients? Or, as restaurateurs and chefs have discovered with all the attention they pay to atmosphere and staffing, does it have more to do than with just what’s in the glass? There are definitely standout drinks to be found, but you may find that your reasons for finding them are what makes them the “best.”

Here we take a look back to 2012 to see what impressed. Only time will tell how 2013 stacks up.

Virginia Miller, SF Bay Guardian, The Perfect Spot

There’s the best drink and then there’s the best moment with a drink…

Aviary chocolate cocktail photo courtesy of Virginia Miller

Aviary chocolate cocktail photo courtesy of Virginia Miller

The best drink itself is a toss-up between the entire line-up at The Aviary in Chicago soon after Charles Joly became bar manager (oh, for the “dessert” cocktail, Cold Dark Chocolate, served in an angled glass, one side fitted with menthol ice, the other with Bernheim Original Kentucky Straight Wheat Whiskey and oleo sacchrum, topped with warm marcona almond foam, awakening the mouth alternately with warm and cool notes as the mint subtly dissolves into chocolate-citrus – www.theaviary.com) or in San Francisco, AQ’s unforgettable summer drink, the Maeklong Market Cocktail, with a base of peanut-infused mekhong, a sugar cane/molasses/rice-based Thai spirit, creamy with coconut milk, lime and kaffir lime leaves – nutty, creamy, savory, refreshing (www.aq-sf.com).

Maeklong Market photo by Virginia Miller

Maeklong Market photo by Virginia Miller

The best moment with a drink? My husband and I were in Maui for the first time this November, having slipped mini-bottles of St. George’s fantastic gins (Terroir, Botanivore, Dry Rye – www.stgeorgespirits.com) in our carry-on. We had an unbelievable corner deck over the ocean at Napili Kai Resort tucked in Napili Bay (www.napilikai.com). Each morning there were rainbows (from end-to-end) with the islands of Lanai and Molokai before us. At sunset, we made ourselves simple gin and tonics with St. George gin, cheap Schweppes tonic, and lime. Bathed in golden, rosy sunsets, our humble G&Ts were perfection, both of us relaxed and free from all care, even for those fleeting moments, blissfully lost in beauty.

Jacob Briars
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was another superb year for cocktails, with the creativity of the industry seeming to know no limits. Happily we are seeing a few less high-octane rye and amaro drinks and a lot more interesting service methods, and generally a better sense of humor too. Every drink I had at London’s Artesian www.artesian-bar.co.uk/artesian.html, Portland’s Clyde Common (www.clydecommon.com) and Melbourne’s Black Pearl showed why they are held in such high regard. But for me there were three standout drinks of 2012.

‘Six Cylinder Cocktail’ at The Last Word Saloon, Edinburgh

The Last Word is the new-ish project from the talented team behind Auld Reekie favorite Bramble www.bramblebar.co.uk. The vibe is less saloon than cozy house, but the drinks are superb. At Bramble Jason Scott, Mike Aikman and team had led the charge for barrel-aged and bottled cocktails, and at Last Word they have taken it one step further, with the ‘Six Cylinder Cocktail’ which is ‘married in steel’. It’s an ironic nod to both the aging craze and the resurrection of forgotten classics. The original ‘Six Cylinder’ is found in Harry MacElhone’s ‘ABC’ and was probably invented to commemorate a racing car in the late Twenties. I’m sure nearly every bartender has skimmed over the recipe, which looks very odd indeed, with 6 ingredients of equal parts, more like a gimmick than a classic. The Last Word team took both the drink and the name at face value, with equal measures of Bombay Sapphire (www.bombaysapphire.com), Campari (www.campari.com), Martini sweet and dry vermouths, Cherry Heering (www.cherryheering.com) and Dubonnet (www.doyoudobonnet.com). Then it’s aged in steel vats for 4 months, and decanted into small 100ml containers that are labeled like something you’d find in a garage workshop, and served on a bed of crushed ice. A strangely pleasant metallic taste is the initial sensation, and no one ingredient dominates. Unlike barrel aging, which tends to smooth a drink by adding vanilla and other woody notes, this Six Cylinder is perfectly blended and integrated yet it’s all a harmonious whole. Married in steel, indeed. I look forward to ‘steel aging cocktail programs’ popping up all over America soon…

‘Bumblebee’ at Public, New York City

Antipodean-inspired restaurant Public has always been one of my favorite spots, and since Naren Young took over the ‘cocktail program’ the drinks have been a superb blend of the food friendly and the forward thinking. My favorite cocktail at Public this year was as much for its lineage as its flavor, though it was also incredibly delicious (www.public-nyc.com). Naren’s ‘Bumblebee’ was a snappy blend of Bacardi 8, lime juice, egg white (free range of course) and 5-spice-infused honey syrup. I was wowed and ordered another before I’d made much of dent in my first ‘Bumblebee’ as it was that delicious. I later discovered through the all knowing power of Facebook that Naren had ‘lifted’ the drink, with a few tweaks, from Clyde Common’s Jeffrey Morgenthaler, who in turn had purloined it from Erik Adkins at the Slanted Door where it was thought to be a San Francisco classic, and a San Francisco original too, according to a few SF ‘tenders who thought Naren and/or Jeff had taken credit for the drink. Well, I was later recently reading Charles H Baker’s ‘South American Gentleman’s Companion’ and once of the first drinks in there is a ‘Bumble-Bee’ from a bar in Georgetown, Guyana. Picasso once said ‘Great artists steal’ and that’s certainly true in the cocktail world, and we’re much better off for it!

‘Penicillin’ by Sam Ross, closing night of Milk and Honey

Finally not really a drink from 2012, but perhaps my most memorable cocktail experience was having Sam Ross make me a Penicillin on the last day that Milk and Honey was open for business. There is no bar that has had a bigger impact on the global cocktail industry in the last decade, few bartenders who have worked as hard at their craft as Sammy, and few drinks that deserve the title modern classic as much as the Penicillin. I know Milk and Honey is only moving house (www.mlkhny.com), and luckily I can get a Penicillin in good bars from New York to New Zealand. Having a Penicillin here made by a favorite bartender in a favorite bar surrounded by friends bidding Milk and Honey a fond farewell was a very special moment indeed, and appropriately it was my last (and thus, most memorable) cocktail of 2012.

Jonny Almario, 1885 Britomart, Auckland

Photo courtesy of Collecting Melbourne

Photo courtesy of Collecting Melbourne

THE STAGGERAC


The year of 2012 for me was stripping back to basics, trying as many classics as possible and reshaping my perspective. I have an undying love for Sazeracs and this year my drink of 2012 would have to be the George T. Stagg Sazerac (or Staggerac) I had at The Everleigh (www.theeverleigh.com) for a knock-off after a shift at Bar Americano. I’m still not sure why to this day I still consider over-proof or booze-heavy cocktails as knock-offs but I’ll leave that for another story.

I believe the first time I had heard about Staggeracs was reading the 28 Sazeracs in 28 Days that was posted over the month of February in 2010 on Savoy Stomp. I was intrigued to try it but with the hefty price tag in Australia I had to find a good excuse to try one.

Mid to late last year I found the excuse, I had just been accepted into a dance program (which has brought me back to New Zealand this year) and one night after work I convinced my workmate Matt to join me for a quick knock-off. We sat at the bar and ordered from proprietor and friend Michael Madrusan. The first sip was definitely a “holy s**t” moment, the experience of tasting something so well-crafted, so deliciously complex and let me tell you they pack a punch (made the mistake of not eating dinner after my shift). I usually have the tendency to either eat or drink something quite fast as soon as it I deem it delicious, at the dismay of my parents and friends but this drink was one of the few I actually sat there and took my time. However the high alcohol content probably added to that fact.

The combination of being in my favorite bar, in the company of friends and having well-crafted cocktails definitely made this occasion and drink my pick of 2012.

Liam Donegan – Master Distiller, Jameson

Photo courtesy of Irish Whiskey Blog

Photo courtesy of Irish Whiskey Blog

I wasn’t a virgin going to NOLA in July. 2012 was my second successive visit to Tales, but somehow again I managed to completely underestimate the impact that this special place, combined with some of the world’s best spirit minds, would have on me.

Thursday was a busy day; myself and Ger (a good friend and our Jameson Master Cooper) held a fun whiskey making session in One Eyed Jacks, followed by a Spirited Dinner at Sylvain – both very cool venues and both very relaxed sessions (www.sylvainnola.com www.oneeyedjacks.net). At One Eyed Jacks we talked through the triple distillation process with nothing more than a blackboard, a barrel and a few glasses of Jameson. Later on at Sylvain we enjoyed a great dinner, tasted different Whiskey expressions from the Jameson family matched with some of the States’ best craft beers. Combine that with good company (from Boston and NYC) over dinner and it was shaping up to be a very good day.

We finished the night in a bar called Alibi where the party continued and most of the bar got stuck into Jameson shots and various cocktails. I was probably tired, coupled with feeling a bit overwhelmed with the city, and I found myself sitting at the end of the bar alone for a while. I ordered a Jameson Black Barrel on the rocks. It was poured in one of those American oversized shot glasses (we don’t see those at home) with plenty of ice and I sat back, looked on and savoured my favourite whiskey. The day, the dinner, the bar, the glass, the commotion and the Whiskey made it, for me, the most memorable drink in 2012 without a doubt (www.jamesonwhiskey.com).

Jason Rowan

MELLO OCHO, NEW ORLEANS

Not all gatherings at Tales are in the service of promoting a brand, or a competition between bartenders or brand ambassadors. Scott Baird and Josh Harris, the well-liked enfants terrible of the San Francisco cocktail scene, are the men behind the Bon Vivants cocktail consulting team and the recently opened Trick Dog (www.trickdogbar.com) and “pop up bar” The Rio Grande, Comal in Berkeley. For the past 3 years they’d organized a Volunteer Day on the Tuesday before Tales gets under way, inviting attendees to join them in working on local schools affected by Hurricane Katrina. This year some 85 plus bartenders, brand ambassadors and journalists took a couple yellow school buses to East New Orleans and spent a day repainting classrooms at Ruby H. Lee High School. After a full day of painting fueled by coffee, altruism and Pandora emanating from propped up iPhones (I think Black Keys were the album radio of choice) and finishing the entire second floor of the school (31 rooms!) many volunteers retired to the Bon Vivants’ rented digs near the French Quarter, where they’d taken the second floor of a house and stocked it to the brim for all their events of the week. The long entrance hallway was lined with boxes of spirits, mixers and tools, and spread across a table were dozen of mini bottles of Tequila Ocho, a brand the B.V.s were working with for Tales (www.ochotequila.com). The volunteers set down on the deck overlooking the street, where they drank beers from cans and a serious game of dominoes was quickly underway. In the kitchen I spotted a traditional Volunteer Day cocktail being made, ice (paramount), Tequila Ocho, Mello Yello, the juice of half a lime and some sea salt tossed on top, then the whole thing is stirred with a knife (a key part of the tradition). Ruby Wilson was making one for herself and was kind enough to fix one up me in the proper manner, knife-stirring included. The original had been made based on what was found in the fridge on an equally sweltering day years earlier, after the first Volunteer Day, and being part of this ad hoc tradition was immensely gratifying. Salty, citrus, balls-out boozy and hella refreshing & rewarding, the drink was effortlessly perfect after the long, hot day of good work. A reminder that context, one’s company, the moment and the story are as important to what makes a drink come to life as a thousand baroque twists and turns behind the bar. And that being of service is, in fact, the bartender’s chief mandate.

Photo by Jason Rowan

Photo by Jason Rowan

MASTERING THE ULTIMAT SUMMER DRINK

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Lemon-Aid Helps End Hunger While Mixologists Vie for Ultimat Lemon-Aid trophy at Manhattan Cocktail Classic

This is a battle you don’t want to miss; a handful of the country’s most thirst-quenching mixologists re-creating their grown up version of lemonade. All in an effort to help end hunger.

Check out this event on May 20th during the 4th Annual Manhattan Cocktail Classic (www.manhattancocktailclassic.com).

Ultimat Vodka Lemon-Aid Stand Kick Off Invite FC with recipes

IT’S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

The Manhattan Classic is nearly here – what will you learn?
By Francine Cohen

Photo by Philip Anema

It’s just a dozen days to go until the start of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic www.manhattancocktailclassic.com so we’re a little surprised that you don’t have your schedule already set in stone, and your pencils sharpened for all the notes you’ll be taking at those seminars.

But far be it from us to chastise you for leaving things until the last minute. Instead, we’d like to reward you for your careful consideration of the programming and offer you a 10%* discount on remaining programs and events.

Here’s some of what we’ll be covering. Will we see you there?

***Answer these questions correctly and you’ll be able to both save 10% on your seminar tickets and attend the gala with us. We’ve got just one gala ticket to spare so the early bird gets the worm (i.e. respond quickly as the first one to do so correctly will be traipsing up the library’s stairs with us).

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THE WAITING IS OVER

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

It’s time to book your tickets for the Manhattan Cocktail Classic
By Francine Cohen

Photo by Charles Steadman

You came, you saw, and approximately 20,000 of you voted to determine which seminars should be featured at Manhattan Cocktail Classic 2011.

The votes have been counted, the seminar schedule determined, and here’s what you have to choose from when tickets go on sale April 1st.

Don’t miss the boat.

Manhattan Cocktail Classic Seminars Schedule

SATURDAY MAY 14:
11:30am – 1:00pm: The Science of Mixology
12:15pm – 1:45pm: Hand’s on with Tony Abou-Ganim
1:45pm – 3:15pm: History: What is it Good For? Dave Wondrich
2:30pm – 4:00pm: Whiskey is the New Black
4:00pm – 5:30pm: How to Behave in a Bar
4:45pm – 6:15pm: Rye Mania with Dave Wondrich
6:15pm – 7:45pm: Aperitivo: The Italian Happy Hour hosted by Joe Campanale
7:00pm – 8:30pm: Beyond the Hangover Cure

SUNDAY MAY 15:
11:30am – 1:00pm: Art of the Simple Cocktail
12:15pm – 1:45pm: Glasses & Tools hosted by Dale DeGroff
1:45pm – 3:15pm: Whiskies of the World
2:30pm – 4:00pm: Classic Cocktails, Classic Film
4:00pm – 5:30pm: A Drop Of The Hard Stuff
4:45pm – 6:15pm: Preserving with Liquor
6:15pm – 7:45pm: Global Drink Ritual
7:00pm – 8:30pm: The Science of Citrus

MONDAY MAY 16:
11:30am – 1:00pm: Spirits in a Blind with Steve Olson and Doug Frost
12:15pm – 1:45pm: Drink Like You Eat
1:45pm – 3:15pm: Discovering Le Cognac with Dale DeGroff, Steve Olson, Dave Wondrich, Doug Frost, Paul Pacult and Andy Seymour
2:30pm – 4:00pm: Three Mixologists, Three Drinks, Three Ways
4:00pm – 5:30pm: From the BeGINning
4:45pm – 6:15pm: Tequila’s Rebirth
6:15pm – 7:45pm: Age: The Final Frontier
7:00pm – 8:30pm: Yo, Ho, Ho and a Bottle of Rum

TUESDAY MAY 17:
11:30am – 1:00pm: Botanical Bartending
12:15pm – 1:45pm: The Agave Sessions
1:45pm – 3:15pm: The Mindful Bartender
2:30pm – 4:00pm: The Science of Taste
4:00pm – 5:30pm: Mysticism and Magic
4:45pm – 6:15pm: The History of Distilling in New York City

Part festival, part fête, part conference, part cocktail party — the Manhattan Cocktail Classic is an annual celebration of the myriad points of intersection between cocktails and culture. New York City’s annual five-day celebration of cocktails and culture happens May 13 – 17 with over 100 events spread across five days and five boroughs, including 30 seminars taking place at Astor Center during the festival, which were selected by popular vote from amongst over 85 proposals.

The final line-up of 2011 seminars offer a terrific spread of imbibing education: from the history of Italian aperitifs to the science of whiskey cocktails; from ancient drinking rituals to techniques in home preserving with liquor. The seminars will be hosted by noted mixologists, spirits experts, cocktail mavens and acclaimed booze journalists.

“We were thrilled to be able to empower our festival audience to choose the seminars they most wanted to see at the 2011 festival,” said Lesley Townsend, founder and director of the Classic. “Not only was this decision-making process very much in keeping with the democratic spirit of the Classic – but it yielded an absolutely fantastic line-up of seminars that we will be nothing short of honored to host.”

The Classic offers a vast array of unique experiences to enthusiasts and professionals alike, expanding the very definition of what constitutes a “cocktail event.” For additional information, please visit www.manhattancocktailclassic.com.

YOU’RE ON A BOAT

Monday, July 5th, 2010

An INSIDE Look At One Of The Manhattan Cocktail Classic’s Most Talked About Events
By Francine Cohen Photos Courtesy of Moët Hennessy USA (unless otherwise noted)

Photo by Charles Steadman

As is often the case, we find ourselves in the right place at the right time. This time it was at Louis649 (www.louis649.com) on a sunny winter afternoon. Tippling Point partner Jason Littrell was there and eager to share what he thought was a pretty nifty idea…a plan for a boat cruise to take place during the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. Great idea (we thought). Sounds like fun (we said). Little did we know then what we know now – that the Three Hour Tour would become the most coveted ticket for an off-site event during the Manhattan Cocktail Classic (www.manhattancocktailclassic.com), and an event still talked about months later. Though we should have known. Thank goodness we immediately secured ourselves a ticket before the planning got underway for real.

Planning the Three Hour Tour was no small feat for Littrell and his partners Tad Carducci, Paul Tanguay, and Gianfranco Verga. Sure, this is a band of bartenders who have put together quite a number of memorable parties on their own, but not usually something like this with a handful of the nation’s best bartenders pitching in, and at sea no less. Fortunately, for all involved, their maiden voyage as a newly formed events consultantancy was smooth sailing (sorry, couldn’t help that one).

Photo courtesy of MHUSA

Littrell comments on how he first came up with the idea saying, “I knew Lesley [Townsend – Founder of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic] was putting things together and saw that there was an opportunity to have events offsite. I’ve done parties outside festivals before but I had never been to a cocktail event on a boat. The idea for the cruise just came to me. The concept was sort of like how I approach drinks; a lot of times I’ll come up with a name first and build a drink around it.”

This boat cruise around the isle of Manhattan built around a “blue sky” idea got its sea legs when Moët Hennessy USA (MHUSA – www.mhusa.com) and the Tippling Point came together. Littrell says, “We all put it together; I had this idea for this cheeky event and they had skill sets I didn’t have.” Tanguay adds, “Basically Jason came up with the idea – they approached us to see if we wanted to get involved. That’s how Tippling Point was born and now we’re running with this event side concept. Putting new parties together if you will and approaching spirits companies to partner.”

The original idea for the cruise was based on a Gilligan’s Island theme, but partnering with one of the most prestigious spirits companies changed the tone of the event as Littrell reflects, “It’s hard to get dollars from a luxury brand to do something down market. We wanted to put something cohesive together

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BEHIND THE SCENES WITH INSIDE F&B

Monday, June 7th, 2010

By Francine Cohen

If you’ve been thinking lately that we’ve been very spirited in our editorial focus, you’d be right. It’s been an exciting time for drinks events these past few months, starting with the Absolut Sensory Experience which was an eye opening exploration of vodka that just may be the kick in the pants that many bartenders needed to revisit this category (more on this later), and a recent visit to NYC by Japanese cocktail master, Kazuo Uyeda (inventor of the Hard Shake and owner of Tender Bar).

Uyeda-san’s message was heard loud and clear by bartenders who took subways, buses, taxis and planes to be present and learn from a living legend. The two day seminar was a cultural exchange in which the audience was enlightened about the exacting and consistent Japanese approach to style, technique, and, above all, pleasing the guest through service and attention to deliver the most delicious drink (*Factoid: Uyeda-san mentioned the words “delicious” or “deliciousness” a minimum of 20 times each day. It definitely drove the point home.). The Tender Bar approach to crafting that perfectly delicious cocktail is an effort that exhibits the same amount of detail, finesse and grace as a Japanese tea ceremony. For more about this two day East meets West drinks exploration see this story: http://insidefandb.com/2010/05/turning-japanese/

Following right on the heels of this bit of international beverage bonanza a number of those same out-of- town bartenders returned for the inaugural NYC drinks fete/conference/ party that celebrates the mighty cocktail and is known as The Manhattan Cocktail Classic (www.manhattancocktailclassic.com – affectionately referred to as the MCC). Embraced by their NYC brethren, many of these said bartenders were quickly put to work batching drinks for the masses who were about to descend upon the MCC gala. And, while all of them had bar backs, only a few lucky ones (namely Ricky Gomez, Danny Ronen, and Charles Steadman) had the assistance of Oompa Loompas as they manned the Willy Wonka themed bar showcasing Remy

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