Absolut Vodka brand ambassador, Georgia McDonnell-Adams, recently travelled to New York to attend the Manhattan Cocktail Classic and here give an eyewitness account to TheShout.

The annual five-day celebration of cocktails and culture kicked off on May 13 and culminates today (May 18) with the Official Bar event that sees some of the world's greatest bartenders crafting up special drinks all day long at the Astor Center.

“The Manhattan Cocktail Classic featured an abundance of special happenings and events, in addition to its full line-up of educational seminars.

Celebrations kicked off in proper fashion on Friday May 13 with an exuberant opening night gala at The New York Public Library.

An estimated 3,000 cocktail connoisseurs and stylish party aficionados from Gotham and beyond filled the marble corridors of this iconic New York City landmark – drinking, dancing and making merry at one of the city's most talked about events of the year.

With a mix of trade and consumers the gala opened the doors wide to what would usually be a ‘bartender only ‘affair.

Over 40,000 handcrafted cocktails were served by more than 100 members of mixology's royalty, including a few cheeky Aussies like Nick Van Tiel, who has landed a job as gin ambassador for the East Coast of USA working with Simon Ford and the brand outreach team for Pernod Ricard.

Accompanied by live musical performances, interactive art installations and canapés, guests including Pernod Ricard Spirits Ambassadors Ben Davidson, The Chalker Group's Vernon Chalker, Charlie Ainsbury of Duke fame and Bootleg's Tim Greening were seen in the 3000- plus crowd.

One of the evening's highlights was the Campari -Negroni bar where star mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim stirred up definitive versions of the classic Negroni and to cap things off, Campari officially declared 2011 to be ‘The Year of the Negroni’.

With parties running till the early hours of each day of the MCC, there were definitely a few sore heads and multiple Milk Thistle tablets being eaten throughout the week.

Part festival, part fete, part conference, part cocktail party; the Manhattan Cocktail Classic is an annual celebration of the myriad points of intersection between cocktails and culture.

With nearly 100 events spread across the five days and three NY boroughs, the Classic offered a vast array of unique experiences to enthusiasts and professionals alike, expanding the very definition of what constitutes a ‘cocktail event’.

This year's calendar included decadent dinners, boozy brunches, glamorous rooftop soirees, a croquet tournament, a sunset cruise, two party bus tours, and a sensory fete with a top food celebrity and an awesome '80s party.

"We're hugely excited about the line-up of programming for the 2011 festival. Just like last year, the events [ran] the gamut from purely instructive to riotously hedonistic, with a good spread in between," Manhattan Cocktail Classic founder and director, Lesley Townsend, said.

"And the diversity of the events is truly spectacular. More than anything, these are cultural events and they just so happen to involve really great cocktails."

Stay tuned for the August edition of Bars&Clubs as I bring you updates from our ex-pat bartenders overseas and some first-hand experiences over the five days including an in-depth tour of New York bars with industry icon’s Dale Degroff, Nick Strangeway, Toby Cecchini and Simon Ford.”

Georgia McDonnell-Adams was named “Best Brand Ambassador” at the 2010 ALIA Awards.


The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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