02.15.2012
By Terry Flanagan

Mark Your Calendar: The 2012 Manhattan Cocktail Classic

Springtime in New York brings sunshine, the darling buds of May…and a five-day cocktail fest in nearly every borough, from a gala in Bryant Park’s New York Public Library to a Tiki Tour on Staten Island. Mark your calendars, because tickets to this festival are on sale starting March 15–and sell fast (last year’s opening formal gala sold out within one hour).

Cocktail State of Mind: Have one at the New York Public Library in your best attire…because you can.

That’s right: somewhere in the middle of the urban festival spectrum–with messy, stein-laden Oktoberfest at one end and almost-daintily festive Fashion’s Night Out in the other–lies the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. For five days this May, a barrage of mixologists, spirit makers, and the city’s best bars and restaurants will conspire to create a distinctly varied week of drink experimentation: think of it as the New York City Wine Expo’s cooler, party-hearty younger brother.

Kicking off its third year with yet another formal gala on May 11 at Bryant Park’s New York Public Library, the Classic’s opener will feature 200 bartenders and 8 live bands. Over 40,000 cocktails are expected to be served, and if last year’s opening party is any measure, this year’s gala will be just as merry (2011’s party featured jazz bands, accordionists, dueling banjos, and, of course DJs). Tickets are priced at $150 per person, and you can expect to be dressed in your formal best.

To follow on May 12 are daytime seminars, tastings, cocktail demos, and food pairings, all held in various restaurants and bars throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, with tickets ranging from $25 to $125 (depending on food and drink involved). For the cocktail-obsessed, the evening of May 12 features the highly anticipated Classic Night Out: six Meatpacking District blocks of pop-up bars, speakeasies housed in salons, spas, and high-fashion stores, and–what block party would be complete without it?–live music and dancing in the streets. For Classic Night Out, tickets are $100 per person, and you can expect these to sell like a pair of Ferragamos in a Saturday morning sample sale.

More events are planned for Sunday, May 13 and Monday, May 14; further details are yet to be released. Concurrent to the public festival is a hospitality industry-only invitational, where the best distilleries, mixologists, bars, and restaurants gather to meet and compete in cocktail and pairing contests. To close the festival, something called an “Anti-Gala” is in the works…and we can only guess that it will be as sensational as the opening gala itself.

Photo credit: Belathee Photography

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