"Alcohol is a misunderstood vitamin." --P.G. Wodehouse Well hot damn--the Manhattan Cocktail Classic flew by like a bat out of Eyjafjallajökull. I had the wild idea to put on an art exhibit/punch party so I only attended the Gala at New York Public Library and the Three Hour Tour around Manhattan Island--smashing good times all around involving well-dressed cocktailians from all over and addictive libations. I'll be looking to other bloggers to tell me what I missed at the seminars, Behind the Bars, and other events.
Speaking of other bloggers, MCC just happened to kick off the night after World Cocktail Day, aka my first blogiversary, which coincidentally is the same for LA cocktail culture blogger Daniel Djang, aka Thirsty in LA. I've been reading Daniel's watch on the budding LA cocktail scene and only recently realized that we shared the same blog bornday. I was stoked when I heard Daniel would be visiting for MCC. He met a bunch of us at Death & Co. right after landing in NYC to share a toast with me, and then we rolled to Painkiller where we had a few too many sips of Scorpion bowls, Mai Tais and Singapore Slings. I'm not sure this was necessary the night before MCC, but it was a blast. It also didn't hurt that Tony Abou-Ganim, Eric Alperin, Mindy Kucan, and Johnny Iuzzini were among the crowd at Painkiller that night.
I don't even know where to begin with the Gala--event of the year?! Lesley Townsend, Georgia Tan, and their production team all deserve a collective bow from the cocktail community for pulling off such a massive, glamorous affair. All four floors of the New York Public Library were transformed into an endless open bar full of random wonders--you know, Oompa Loompas and the like. Towards the end of the night, most everyone made their way to the air conditioned basment which Diageo turned into the "Stork Club," named for the historic New York nightclub run by ex-bootlegger Sherman Billingsly from 1929 to 1965.
In between spouts of event planning, I managed to make it onto the Royal Princess for the Tippling Point's inaugural event, the "Around the World in Five Cocktails" sunset cruise. The weather couldn't have been more perfect as we sipped cocktails from Moet Hennessy's line of fine spirits--Hennessy, Belvedere Vodka, Ardbeg, 10 Cane Rum, and Grand Marnier, all mixed by world-class mixologists: Jacqueline Patterson of Heaven’s Dog (San Francisco), Thomas Waugh of Death & Co., John Lermayer of The Florida Room (Miami), Richard Boccato of Dutch Kills and Painkiller, Sean Kenyon of Steuben's (Denver), H. Joseph Ehrmann of Elixir (San Francisco), and Danny Valdez of Cure (New Orleans). At sunset, the cruise ship paused in front of the Statue of Liberty next to a vintage sailboat for a patriotic and picturesque moment, reminding me of our freedom to imbibe.
And on the fourth night of MCC, my big night finally came to fruition -- Tastemaker's Punch! I can't express how thrilled I was to see artwork from Jill DeGroff, Claw Money, Nicole Desmond, Charles Hardwick, Elba Giron, Jackie Neale Chadwick, Vanessa Bahmani, and Leo Borovskiy on the walls of Ramscale Gallery. And of course there were the punches (recipes below) by Enzo Lim, Maxwell Britten, Abigail Gullo, Orson Salicetti, Frank Cisneros, Erick Castro (of San Francisco), Payman Bahmani, Aaron Doherty, The Cocktail Guru's Hal Wolin, and The Tippling Point's Jason Littrell. DJs from the monthly Discovery party at Santos Party House, VDRK and Free Magic, kept the good times flowing, and sushi and ceviche from Richard Sandoval's ZENGO was devoured just as fast as we could pass it out.
Dave Wondrich led us through a long list of historical figures whom we have to thank for the wonderful gift of punch, starting with British sailors who discovered the five-ingredient concoction in India in the 16th century. Dave announced that his book on all things punch, "Punch, or the Delights and Dangers of the Flowing Bowl," will be out this November. And yes, it also just happened to be my birthday that night (along with Eryn Reece and Meredith Modzelewski!), so thanks Jason for taking over the mic to have everyone sing happy birthday while I blushed in the corner. How many people get to say that they had Dave Wondrich, Jill DeGroff and Claw Money at their birthday party? Even Gary "Gaz" Regan made a latenight appearance, helping himself to some punch.
So many to thank: Bols Genever, Pierre Ferrand Cognac, Mathilde Fruit Liqueurs, Leblon Cachaca, Laird's Bonded Applejack, Plymouth Gin, Tuthilltown Spirits, Catdaddy Moonshine, Milagro Tequila, Sailor Jerry Rum, A.B. Smeby Bittering Co., Vita Coco Coconut Water, Mana Fine Arts, and the MCC team: Lesley, Georgia, and Don Lee. I also want to personally thank Kerry Hoffman, Lincoln Chinnery, Russell Davis, Gail Schoenberg, Nosa Garrick, Erin Garcia, Amy Kelly, Olga Boyko, Mark Garcia, Iman Kedir, Ashley Klanac and Nora Worthington.
Note: the silent auction to benefit the Museum of the American Cocktail, planned to take place during the punch party, will be rescheduled for the near future.
Here are the punch recipes, all using fresh-squeezed juices:
Pacquiao's Punch by Enzo Lim of Painkiller:
33.8 oz Sailor Jerry Rum 11.3 oz pineapple juice 11.3 oz lemon juice 11.3 oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur 5.6 oz demerara syrup .5 oz Smeby's Buddha's Hand Lemon and Kaffir Lime Bitters .5 oz Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters (serves 20, scale accordingly)
Gin Lane Royale Punch by Maxwell Britten of Freemans
150 oz Plymouth Gin 75 oz lavender-infused Dolin Blanc Dry Vermouth 75 oz lime juice 75 oz grapefruit-nutmeg syrup 75 oz Moet Imperial Champagne
Don't Shoot the Messenger by Hal Wolin of The Cocktail Guru & Jason Littrell of The Tippling Point
1 1/2 oz Laird's Bonded Applejack 1/2 oz Mathilde Pear 1/4 oz orgeat syrup 1/2 tsp Don's Spices 1/2 oz pineapple juice 3/4 oz lemon juice 1 dash Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters (multiply by number of servings)
Chinese Bootlegger Punch by Payman Bahmani of Umamimart.com
5 cups Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine 5 cups brewed Oolong tea (less than boiling water, steeped 5-6 min) 3.75 cups grapefruit juice 1 cup lemon juice 1 cup agave nectar syrup .75 cup cinnamon syrup .5 cup A.B. Smeby Forbidden Bitters .5 cup A.B. Smeby Spiced Grapefruit Bitters (serves 20, scale accordingly)
Spring Fever Punch by Erick Castro of Rickhouse, San Francisco
150 scoops of Caipirinha Sorbet 50 cups Leblon Cachaca 12.5 cups Mathilde Pear 18.75 cups lime juice 12.5 cups honey syrup (1 to 1) 12.5 cups cucumber juice 25 cups sparkling water 200 pinches of salt
Goblin Punch by Orson Salicetti of Covet
12 bottles of Bols Genever 2 honeydew melons, juiced 8 green bell peppers, juiced 2 lb fresh celery, juiced 2 lb green seedless grapes, juiced 2 lb kiwis, juiced 2 lb green apples, juiced agave nectar lime juice dash of mixed peppercorns
12 bottles Spirit of the Hudson Apple Vodka (Tuthilltown Spirits) 2 bottles Mathilde Orange 1 gallon lemon juice 4 750-ml bottles sparkling cider Thyme-infused maple syrup Forest berry jam Blackberries Raspberries
Raspberry Beret Punch by Frank Cisneros of Dram
125 oz Pierre Ferrand Cognac 50 oz grapefruit juice 25 oz Mathilde Raspberry 50 oz vanilla syrup 100 oz lemon juice 50 oz raspberry syrup 100 oz soda water "secret amount" homemade Chamomile bitters
Madre Sazonada (Spicy Mother) by Aaron Doherty of Jack the Horse Tavern
10 bottles Milagro Reposado Tequila 65 oz lime juice 65 oz habanero demerara syrup 50 oz pineapple juice 50 oz Mexican lager, roughly 1 six pack 12 sprigs Rosemary 1 tbsp toasted curry salt
Everyone should feel proud for helping make the first Manhattan Cocktail Classic a huge success! Can't wait to do it again next year, only bigger and better!