Are you tingling with anticipation for this weekend’s Manhattan Cocktail Classic preview event? While you are deciding which vintage hat to wear, dozens of the industry’s best cocktailians are shopping for ingredients, batching drinks, and plotting your inevitable intoxication. Not only will the Manhattan Cocktail Classic be the first NYC-based cocktail gathering, but the Oct. 3-4 festival will see the launch of ROGUE Events, a merger between two of the country’s most successful cocktail consulting firms, Contemporary Cocktails Inc. and aka wine geek. ROGUE, which is handling logistics for the event, is putting 50 of the best bartenders from around the U.S. to work for the weekend, said Willy Shine, who is co-founder of Contemporary Cocktails with Aisha Sharpe. “I wouldn’t be surprised if close to 10,000 cocktails will be served throughout the weekend,” said Willy, who is so busy at the moment that he barely has a minute to breathe, let alone answer my questions.
Aka wine geek was founded by Steve Olson, one of the top fine beverage experts and writers in the U.S., with the goal to offer consulting and education services that make tasting fun and remove the pretense. Andy Seymour, a star mixologist who has used fresh ingredients in his cocktails long before it became trendy, is Steve’s business partner and a mentor in his own right as a faculty member with BAR (Beverage Alcohol Resource).
Willy Shine and Aisha Sharpe are star mixologists who encourage a culinary approach to mixing drinks. Not only do they create cocktail menus for some of the finest restaurants, bars, and hotels worldwide, they also supervise the BAR program and put on events for top brands and celebrities alike.