Meet the Masters at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic

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New Yorkers have long believed that our fair city is the center of the universe. We've got arts, culture, amazing restaurants and some of the most groundbreaking and influential cocktail bars in the world. Why, then, hasn't there been a groundbreaking and influential cocktail event here? Several industry leaders were wondering the same thing, so they put together the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, a multi-day celebration/conference/festival, scheduled to take place during World Cocktail Week in May 2010. But since New Yorkers are also dreadfully impatient, they're bringing us a preview on October 3rd and 4th.

The preview weekend is jam-packed with seminars, intimate events at the city's best bars, a pop-up bar at the Astor Center with rotating guest bartenders, and a gala event Sunday night. Tickets for individual seminars are on sale now. A full listing of seminars follows after the jump.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

"Have Cocktail Shaker, Will Travel" with Charlotte Voisey & Simon Ford
Once the last legal cocktail was served on the eve of Prohibition in New York City, things would never be the same again. 'Have cocktail shaker, will travel' was the mindset of many a passionate barkeep in the 1920s when their craftsmanship turned criminal. Join Charlotte Voisey, Simon Ford, and other assorted friends for a jovial discussion on how New York has been influencing cocktail culture around the world for many years. Liquid refreshments will be served.

"Cocktails for Your Home Cocktail Party" with Sasha Petraske
Famed (and oft-elusive) owner and proprietor of Milk and Honey Sasha Petraske will demonstrate the basics of creating cocktails in the home. He will go over how to set up and stock home bars of varying degrees of seriousness, as well as cover different scenarios of cocktail entertaining - from temporarily taking over your friend's kitchen for a house party, to grabbing the reins at a fully-equipped bar. And of course, Sasha will teach you how to prepare some basic, ever-pleasing libations for these occasions. Participants will leave armed with a no-fail recipe list and a short set of directions for preparing basic cocktails with block ice and fresh juices.

"The Agave Session: The Magical Elixirs of Mexico" with Steve Olson and Special Guests
There is a heritage and culture associated with Tequila and Mezcal that dates back well over a thousand years, when the agave plant - also known as the maguey - was utilized by Mexico's native peoples for virtually everything: from food and drink, to sugar, to shoes, soap, building supplies, and even medicine. Join us for an exciting tasting of this exotic elixir, each by artisan producers, as we pay homage to the heritage, history and culture of Mexico's national spirit. It is also likely that agave-based libations will be consumed.

"The Many Faces of Cognac & Armagnac" with Julie Reiner, Charlotte Voisey & F. Paul Pacult
This one-time-only, comprehensive seminar joins celebrated master mixologists Julie Reiner and Charlotte Voisey with America's spirits guru F. Paul Pacult on an extraordinary excursion deep into France's legendary AOC grape brandies, Cognac and Armagnac. Participants will first be taken on a guided tour of tasting a half-dozen remarkable brandies to see how these distilled and oak-matured cousins compare and contrast. Then, they will be treated to a Cognac cocktail, made by Julie, and an Armagnac cocktail, made by Charlotte. A rare opportunity to spend 90 minutes with three of America's most engaging spirits and cocktail personalities.

"History of the Cocktail in New York, 1810-1920" with Dave Wondrich
Among all the classes of American mixed drinks--the Cobblers, Sours, Fizzes, Coolers, Juleps and all the rest--the Cocktail stands as first among equals. If there's something about a quick jolt of ice-cold, mixed-up boozy deliciousness that's essentially American, then it's quintessentially New York. And indeed, while many other cities have made key contributions to the Cocktail's development, none has done so much as to shape it as Gotham. This seminar will attempt to track the interventions the city's mixologists made in the idea of the Cocktail during the 110-odd years between its first documented appearance here and Prohibition. Liquid exhibits will be served.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

"Audrey and Gary's Unparalleled Gin Palaver" with Audrey Saunders & Gary Regan
Audrey Saunders, Libation Goddess from New York's Pegu Club, and perhaps the bartender most responsible for the resurgence of gin in the 21st century, will join Gary "gaz" Regan, author of The Joy of Mixology (2003) and The Bartender's Gin Compendium (Fall 2009), to present gin-based cocktails, old, new, borrowed, and, well, you get the picture. They will wax lyrical on all things juniper; they will pontificate endlessly about the attributes of the Martini and of the MarTEAni, and they will display the splendor of cocktails made with dry gin, genever, Plymouth gin, and a most peculiar Old Tom. It's probable that Saunders and Regan will flirt shamelessly throughout the workshop. The throwing of rotting fruit or vegetables will not be permitted.

"Glasses & Tools: How Do You Choose the Right Glass for a Drink?" with Dale DeGroff
The choice of glass can mean the difference between a successful and elegant drink, or a glass of booze. In a commercial operation, the choice of glass can impact dramatically on the bottom line. At the home bar, the choice of glass can have an impact on the success of your cocktail party, and the well-being of your guests. Explore the classics with Dale DeGroff as he culls his glass collection to find the perfect glass for well-known classics and the tools to make them successfully.

"Call of the Rye" with Allen Katz

Ryes, Ryes my beloved,
Meet me down by The Bowery.
There will I give you my love.

By history and culture,
With song, per chance dance,
A Savor to be kissed by kisses.

O, my dear, come...
Ryes at the day break.

As the shadows enter over Astor.
Awake.
Inhale.
O friends, drink, yea, drink abundantly,
O, beloved.

"Sherry: The Cobbler and Beyond" with Andy Seymour
Sherry has long played an important role in the world of mixology and has emerged in this new age of the cocktail more popular than ever. Join Master Mixologist and U.S. Sherry Ambassador Andy Seymour for a fascinating look at one of the world's most cocktail (and food) friendly wines. Taste five of the finest Sherry, representing its many styles, and sample cocktails that show off Sherry's traditional side and what it is up to today. Come ready to shake, as Andy will lead the group in building their own version of the Sherry cobbler!

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