Jacques Bezuidenhout serves Negronis at Campari’s bar at the 2013 MCC Gala. (Photo by Virginia Rollison)
As the first steamy heat wave of the season descends on NYC, you’ll likely be reaching for a refreshing quaff to revive your tastebuds. Coincidentally, Imbibe Magazine has dubbed this week Negroni Week, May 27 to June 3. Not only will the classic Italian cocktail (1:1:1 ratio of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth) do the trick of cooling you off, but a handful of local bars (and nearly 100 across the country) will donate $1 from each drink sold to a charity of their choice.
In Brooklyn, participating bars include Maison Premiere (Charity Water) and Huckleberry Bar (charity TBA), while in Manhattan, PDT (American Red Cross) and Amor y Amargo (Barman’s Fund) are pitching in. Naturally, bartenders are putting their own twists on the drink, using a variety of gins, vermouths and bitter aperitifs. Huckleberry’s take is a summery, delicate version including Carouun Gin, Cocchi Americano Rosa, and Salers Aperitif ($10).
Speaking of Campari, the bittersweet aperitif threw an invite-only Bartender’s Bash during the Manhattan Cocktail Classic at the swanky McKittrick Hotel’s Gallow Green. Bar industry insiders swarmed the event, where delectable Campari concoctions were being served, but everyone was left talking about the brand’s innovative Negroni Sbagliatos in a can. While sadly not for sale on store shelves, you can make your own fizzy, low-alcohol version of the Negroni at home:
1 oz. sweet vermouth
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. lightly sparkling wine (Prosecco)
Combine vermouth and Campari in an ice-filled glass. Top with sparkling wine, stir to combine and garnish with a slice of orange.
Campari’s genius canned Negronis. Photo by Virginia Rollison.
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.
Let's be honest - for the Royal Wedding, like all weddings, it's all about the booze.
- Oh, have you heard? This Friday, April 29, there’s a little wedding happening. If you’re in the mood to celebrate royally, one of several parties in NYC is taking place at The Roosevelt Hotel for a day-long bash going on from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. An English breakfast, a mimosa toast at noon, and champagne and cake round out the festivities. 45 E. 45th St.
- Also on April 29, food and art co-mingle at Rouge58 Gallery in Williamsburg at Something I Ate, from 7 to 10 p.m. Select artists are documenting their eating habits for one week using media and materials of their choice. At the event, SkimKim’s Sam Kim will present an installation of food based on the artists’ submissions, with both meat and veggie options available for consumption. London food architects Bompass & Parr (known for projects such as a pool-sized punch bowl) will create a suprise installation involving champagne flutes and ice. Cocktails featuring Kanon Vodka and Root Liqueur will also be served. Tickets are $30.
- You have until May 2 to enter the Heering Goes Mad(Men) cocktail competition. Presented by Xante and Peter F. Heering, the competition is seeking stylish twists on classics such as the Sidecar and the Whiskey Sour. Four finalists will serve their cocktails at an exclusive rooftop event at Ogilvy & Mather (the depicted home of the Mad Men agency and where it all began) in New York City on May 16th as a part of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. The winner receives features in Elle International, Gotham Magazine, and OK! The winner also snags some Orrefors Glassware to compliment their winning cocktail, a private meet and greet with chef Geoffrey Zakarian and cocktail icon Sasha Petraske in New York City. To enter, email your recipe (must include at least 1 oz. of Xante, Cherry Heering or Coffee Heering) and a photo of your drink to: email@example.com.
- And entries close on May 5 for the “Emotion in a Glass” competition from Russian Standard Vodka, which is seeking cocktails inspired by matters of the heart. On May 20, finalists chosen by USBG chapter presidents will be announced on Facebook. A “Consumer’s Choice” winner with the most “likes” will receive a trip to this year’s Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, and a grand prize winner will receive a feature in Food & Wine magazine and a trip to St. Petersburg, Russia.
- Don’t miss out on tickets for the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, which is just around the corner from May 13-18. Tasting Table is offering a 10% discount code (2011TASTINGTABLE). And while we’re on the subject, congrats to all of the recipients of the 2011 MCC Bar Fellowship Program!
Beefeater Royal Punch by Dan Warner:
2 parts Beefeater London Dry Gin
1 part Dubonnet
1 part pomegranate juice
2 parts fresh lemonade (American style)
Angostura bitters to taste
Method: Serve in a large punch bowl and garnish with wheels of lemon and lime, mint sprigs and pomegranate seeds. Chill the punch with lots of ice cubes or make your own fruit ice cube by freezing oranges and lemon slices with water in a plastic container.
Flower collar by Boudoir Queen on Etsy, $85.
A charmingly crafted cocktail is always a great accessory, but sometimes, the occasion calls for some effort on your part as well. Between the French Spirits Soiree, the Bootlegger Vodka Cotton Club, and the upcoming Manhattan Cocktail Classic, you may be on the lookout for some swingin’ new threads. You can find a bevy of glamorous vintage items on eBay, Etsy (as pictured) or even Craigslist, but if you have the time, there’s nothing quite like picking through NYC’s second-hand racks. Here are some local go-to vintage shops:
Silk top hat circa-1890s on Etsy, $129.50.
Vintage bow tie, $18 on Etsy.
Victorian ostrich feather scarf on Etsy, $39.
Flapper headband on Etsy, $32.
American Apparel petticoat, $74.
Ruffle party dress by Blasphemina on Etsy, $165.