What did you do the other weekend?
Well -- and this post has taken me longer than I'd have liked to get written and posted -- I went to the fall preview event of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. Something akin to New York's version of Tales of the Cocktail, the event was a jam-packed two days of seminars, open bars, lectures, history lessons, war stories from behind the stick, and an over-the-top fancy-dress gala.
(According to Robert Simonson in the Times, the gala "was attended by 1,000 people, who consumed roughly 190 turkey drumsticks, six whole smoked pigs, and literally thousands of cocktails, prepared by a team of more than 150 bartenders." A friend referred to it as "cocktail prom", and that was really what it felt like.)
Cocktailians was there, of course, and I shot pictures of all the sessions, three of the "Stories from Behind the Bar" events, the official bar, and the closing gala. I thought some of the most interesting sessions centered around stuff I didn't know as much about -- Andy Seymour's session on sherry and Steve Olson's session on agave stood out especially, as did the session on barware with Greg Boehm, Don Lee, and Alex Day (and David Wondrich as a surprise special guest.) I got to see Jim Meehan inviting guests behind the bar at PDT and teaching them how to make quality drinks, and I got to hear Phil Ward's and Joaquin Simo's stories about life behind the bars at their respective establishments. I got to see Don Lee scientifically analyzing various bartenders' shaking techniques, Dale DeGroff flaming orange peels, Sasha Petraske cracking ice, Charlotte Voisey shaking up cocktails, and Audrey Saunders dancing with Gary Regan shortly before regaling the crowd with tales of gin. The weekend was so engrossing, in fact, that I wonder how they'll top it in May for the full Manhattan Cocktail Classic -- it took me several days to recover, and that was just from a weekend of shooting pictures and conducting brief interviews.
For more pictures than you can shake a muddler at, go here for my full set on Flickr. (If you know peoples' names, feel free to fill them in where I don't have 'em.) And I'll see you at the full Manhattan Cocktail Classic in May.