It’s not easy deciding where to begin when talking about the events around the Industry Invitational as part of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, so I decided to start with some highlights. I want to begin by saying the venues at the Andaz Hotel (for most of the events) and Crimson for the Indie Spirits Expo were great choices and provided terrific service.
New & Small-Batch Spirits
I tasted far too many spirits that are out of my price range during my three days. I had Scotch that was limited to fewer than 600 bottles and cognac that was limited to 900 bottles (but just for this year). I discovered new brands, or at least new to the area, that I will definitely need to seek out. Three of the best new brands I found were from Colorado (is there anything I don’t like about the state?) — Dancing Pines black walnut bourbon was probably my favorite.
The bartenders from around the world were great. I was able to talk with a few during the Gran Sierpe pisco sour competition. That’s where I met Christopher James from Point Pleasant, NJ (I had to cheer on the home state, but I didn’t stay long enough to hear who won). I also talked with Ryan Maybee from Manifesto in Kansas City, MO, who started my first day off with a great spicy bloody mary. Maybee also served his Angostura Bitters competition concoction: The Exploration Cocktail, which was inspired by Caribbean ingredients from early European expeditions.
There were quite a few great people and brands I’ve met at previous events. I’m still amazed that Karen Hoskin from Montanya Rum remembers me. Her Colorado-distilled rum is excellent, but I’m partial to the oro. She also made a refreshing mojito that helped slow the pace of drinking at the Indie Spirits Expo. She invited me out to Colorado to visit the distillery, but I know I’d never leave if I went back the Rockies.
Every event I attended had wonderful food. I liked that Angostura had cooking demonstrations, but Sorel topped them in the food department on Monday. There was a great variety of food at the Sorel bar that included lobster rolls from the Red Hook Lobster Pound and some amazing artisan cheeses from a shop in Brooklyn. Even Gran Sierpe provided a great breakfast prior to its competition (it’s wonderful to have yogurt with fresh fruit to coat the stomach before drinking).