Dizzy Recap: Second Annual Manhattan Cocktail Classic

The New York Public Library gets kaleidoscopic for the 2011 Manhattan Cocktail Classic. Photo by Belathée Photography.

Kicking off with what has become the cocktail-lover’s prom of the year, the 2011 Manhattan Cocktail Classic, held May 13-17, drew a crowd of top bartenders and drinking enthusiasts from across the country and beyond. It’s great to see this event grow as it celebrates NYC’s place on the map for cocktail innovation.

And grow it has–founder and director Lesley Townsend said attendance for the five days nearly doubled over last year, reporting more than 5,000 attendees. She estimated that 75,000 cocktails were served throughout the festival, and all in real glassware. For the Gala, more than 3,000 cocktail fans lined up around the block for nearly an hour to get inside. Lesley said she is already working on ways to make the entry process more efficient for next year.

Although parts of the Gala had more of a nightclub feel this year–one writer compared it to Pacha–and food was once again hard to find, props must be given to Lesley and her team of 500 for organizing NYC’s quintessential cocktail bash. I particularly liked how every brand had equal presence at the event with a minimalist design as opposed to loud branding. Everywhere you turned, guests were smiling and seemingly having the times of their lives, sipping expertly-mixed cocktails.

Other events held throughout the festival included a Don Q Rums ’80s party, a one-time-only screening of the film “Last Call in New York” hosted by Tequila Don Julio,  the Indy Spirits Expo, and Campari’s Spirited Fête for the Senses at The Box featuring Padma Lakshmi. Seminars ranged from the spirit-focused to topics such as “How to Behave in a Bar.” Mostly, this festival was another example of how much fun the liquor industry can be–congrats Lesley on another successful edition of the MCC!

The scene at the Gala's main bar. Photo by Belathée Photography.

And in the basement, a more club-like vibe. Photo by Virginia Rollison.

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