Appetite: Giant legs and Willy Wonka -- adventures at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic - Page 2

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PHOTO FROM COCKTAILIANS.COM

2. Non-Cocktailian Crowds at the opening gala: I expected a slew of the country's and NY's most hardcore drink fans, the kind that mix Jerry Thomas recipes at home, await Mud Puddle book releases, and value craft and taste above a "scene". Um, try drunken carousers breaking glasses and leaving trash lying around in the historical NYPL? What about having your photo taken with vodka models? Seriously: you, a bottle of vodka, and sexy models in a brightly lit, LA-style photo shoot. Or maybe I'm still just creeped out by the Oompa Loompas or the giant Queen Victoria towering over us in the Hendricks' Gin area (at least there was Charlotte Voisey mixing cocktails below the Queen).

3. Events not as advertised: I've already mentioned the misleading representation of the cocktail competition at Keen's and the drunken, packed-to-the-gills mayhem of the opening gala where check-in, getting a drink or even entering a room, meant yet another 15 minute wait. And where were the fine cocktails? Several came from our San Francisco crew who manned a number of tables (negronis!), or the playful Willy Wonka-themed candy counter, but there were few even tolerable out of four floors of cocktails.

BEST

1. Astor Center bar and bartenders from around the country: The Astor Center was ground zero for many of MCC's daily events, panels and classes. The best part was having bartenders from all over New York and the country cover varying shifts. I met mixologists from St. Louis, LA, San Fran, and NY bars like Employees Only, Clover Club and Rye House. Not only did these guys whip up some of the better drinks of the entire event, but they were friendly, chatty, engaging, making the Astor Center feel like your favorite watering hole.

The respite of the Virgin Room. Photo by Virginia Miller.

2. The Virgin Room at the opening gala: What is normally NYPL's staid, lovely Periodicals Room became the Virgin Room, a detox refuge in the midst of the body-to-body storm of revelers, ego-tripping bodyguards and completely frazzled staff. Coolers were stocked with energy drinks while the latest copies of Interview magazine lined the tables. Never mind that one couldn't find a bit of water anywhere. At least I could read about Madonna staying sexy in her '50's via lamplight.

3. Gin Masters: Let's call this third one a tie between the gracious English class and knowledge of master distillers, Desmond Payne (of Beefeater Gin) and Sean Harrison (of Plymouth Gin), at the English Gin Seminar on May 16.

4. The Stork Club: At the opening gala, one could catch a welcome respite from the oppressive heat of the rest of the building in the rarely seen NYPL basement, dubbed the Stork Club for the night. Thanks, Diageo, for turning the room into a relaxed but funky party with brassy Budos Band and proper cocktails, including a Bulleit Bourbon Mint Julep and a Mary Pickford made with Zacapa 23 year rum.

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