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Tag Archives: New York City

Where Do You Want to Live?

Twitter user @PekingMike reminded me of an interesting sign I saw back in 2007 in Tianjin, China. Back in 2011, he co-wrote an article for Bloomberg about a ridiculous real estate project in the city that was to be a replica of Manhattan. Like many real estate developments in China today, it’s mostly an empty shell–plenty of investors buy multiple apartments that sit empty for years (I met a landlord in Shenzhen who bragged about owning at least a dozen apartments in the city).

You don't need to live on the mountain to get high in Tianjin

You don’t need to live on the mountain to get high in Tianjin

I’m not sure if this is the same project, but the Chinese does translate to New York Center. I really don’t understand what point they were trying to make with the English slogan.

Is Japan Really Weird?

Japan has a reputation for being a bit…well, weird. There are plenty of stories that have been passed around over the years about unusual fashions, foods, products, and even sex. But, is Japan really that unusual?

To be fair, it was the weekend before Halloween

To be fair, it was the weekend before Halloween

Over the years, I have encountered plenty of weirdness around the US. If anything, people in the US like to go over the top when it comes to shocking others. Hell, just look at the fashions on the streets of New York–not really any more unusual, surprising, or shocking here in Japan. I have seen some amusing sights in Tokyo, but I’ve seen just as many in the US.

This work of "art" was spotted in Sausalito

This work of “art” was spotted in Sausalito

Of course, it could be that after years of living in China, some time in Boulder, CO, and living next to NYC for so long has desensitized me to such things. Not much shocks me anymore–come on, I’ve been to the Coney Island Mermaid Parade and the Icelandic Phallological Museum. I wasn’t even surprised when I saw that Lay’s now has chocolate potato chips–they can’t be any worse than the lychee ones I had in China.

Is that a pirate ship in Halifax?

Is that a pirate ship in Halifax?

However, I have been shocked by how polite and orderly almost everything has been here in Tokyo. I’m also disappointed that I have yet to encounter a single vending machine that dispenses beer. I also haven’t found any unusual snacks, but I haven’t been searching that hard.

End of Summer on the High Line

highline3To start my Labor Day weekend, I headed for a late afternoon walk on the High Line in New York. Since it opened shortly after I returned to the US in 2009, the High Line park has become my favorite spot in Manhattan–and I’m not the only person in the area who thinks it’s the best place in the city.

The old elevated train line that runs near the Hudson River provides great views of the New York skyline along with Jersey City and Hoboken across the way.

Great views of the Empire State Building along the way

Great views of the Empire State Building along the way

The overgrown vegetation on the walk from Gansevoort to 30th St. makes the High Line feel like an oasis away from the city, even though there are plenty of reminders that Manhattan surrounds you.highline-railway

Just past the Chelsea Market, there’s a great spot for New York street theater as the High Line crosses 10th Ave. Whenever I stop at this section of the park, I watch the people sitting and watching traffic flow below.

Best street theater in New York

Best street theater in New York

For those who want to enjoy a bit more than just the view, there are some food vendors and even a bar on the High Line (the bar was rather crowded when I walked by on Friday). There are also plenty of benches and lounge chairs to enjoy the weather and views.

The lawn is a great place to sit and read

The lawn is a great place to sit and read

At the Ball Game After 20 Years

A few weeks ago, a friend posted on Facebook that he and his relatives couldn’t use their season tickets for a Yankees game and were looking for someone to take all three seats. I got my brother and friend to go along–my friend and I had been talking about going to a Yankees game for over a year.yankees

I really wanted to see the new stadium. It had been a long time since I last saw a baseball game, and even longer since I saw a game in the Bronx. My last Yankees game was before the strike in 1994–my friend and I almost got crushed getting Don Mattingly’s autograph.

My last game was in 2005; my friends came to visit and wanted to get cheap seats to see the Rockies in Denver. I remember walking up to the ticket booth just before the first pitch and paying a few extra dollars for non-bleacher seats. I think our tickets were $7 each. Our tickets to Yankee Stadium were not even close to that cheap, even for the second to last row behind home plate.

Even from back here I can tell Brett Gardner is up

Even from back here I can tell Brett Gardner is up

Despite the nosebleed seats, we had a great view of the game and weren’t out in the sun. Unfortunately, the game was very boring–very few hits (even fewer by the Yankees). We did get a kick out of the guy across the aisle reading a book for most of the game–that about sums up the excitement of the afternoon.

At least now I can say I’ve been to a game, even though I didn’t get to see Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera (or A-Rod before he’s suspended into retirement).

Sex in the Museum

This post is intended for mature audiences. Or maybe it’s only really appropriate for older audiences with a 5th grade sense of humor.

oralfixLast Friday I joined a Meetup.com group to walk around the Museum of Sex in New York. We met at the OralFix bar in the basement of the museum, which was rather hot–temperature-wise; it really wasn’t sexy in any way unless you count the names of cocktails. After meeting all the people in the group and almost immediately forgetting their names, we headed upstairs to the museum.

On the second floor of the museum is a room with facts and statistics about American porn search habits–there are a lot of perverts searching for some fetishes that some people might find offensive (or really funny). There’s also some commentary about those habits–many of the comments were quickly made into NSA surveillance jokes. I’m still not sure why they’d include QR codes on every porn search term–would anyone actually whip out their phone to check that? (If I had a QR reader app on my phone I might’ve checked to see if I got redirected to safe website.) One wall also had some pixelated thing that sort of looked like Lego porn–as someone in the group said, “That’s the least erotic porn I’ve ever seen.”

I'm really not sure what the point of this game is. It wasn't really erotic either

I’m really not sure what the point of this game is. It wasn’t really erotic either

There was quite a bit about voyeurism and amateur porn, and people’s desire to show themselves to strangers. There’s even an archive of Anthony Weiner’s Twitter conversation before tweeting a picture of his junk, which was even funnier because The Daily Show had just run a segment the night before on politicians on Twitter (“Seriously, don’t tweet your junk”).

Now, why didn't they sell this in the gift shop?

Now, why didn’t they sell this quilt in the gift shop?

On the third floor, there were two more rotating exhibits–an art display by William Kent called “My Life Ruined by Sex” and a room full of facts about sex in the animal kingdom (nothing about bestiality). Quite a bit of the art exhibit was humorous, though I’m not sure what the inspiration would be to make a giant twisted penis battering ram out of wood (it’s not even a functional sex toy). The rest of Kent’s artwork was mostly screen prints that were a mix of classical art, propaganda, and sexual content. Some people confused the display of Kent’s woodworking tools with his sex toys, but I’m fairly certain he would’ve been in a lot of pain if used the tools in that way.

The animal exhibit included some sculptures of animal sex because everyone needs to see a chimp with a boner offering sugarcane for sex. It was the most educational part of the museum with documented instances on homosexuality, prostitution, and necrophilia in the animal kingdom–plus there’s panda porn since panda’s are notoriously not interested in sex.

Because everyone needs to see some panda porn

Because everyone loves some panda porn

My recommendation is to save your money and just check out the gift shop full of sex toys and novelty gifts. If you have the chance, go to the sex museum in Amsterdam instead.

Tickets for the Museum of Sex are $18, but I had a $3 discount. Most in the group had a Travelzoo 2-for-1 ticket. The museum is located at 27th St. and 5th Ave.

New York at Night

On the first day of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic (the day I almost fell asleep with a cocktail in my hand–and not because of intoxication), I attended a party in a hotel suite to benefit the organization No Kid Hungry. I hoped that standing on the balcony overlooking Manhattan or attending other parties at the Andaz Hotel would wake me up (it didn’t work).

The Empire State Building with the new World Trade Center in the distance

The Empire State Building with the new World Trade Center in the distance

I did, however, manage to capture a few shots of New York at night.

NYC_night

Although I didn’t have enough money to participate in the auction, No Kid Hungry raised a few thousand dollars that night (possibly more after I left). You can visit No Kid Hungry’s website to learn more about helping this organization that aims at ending childhood hunger in the US at www.nokidhungry.org.

Industry Invitational Highlights 2013

First cocktail of the event: Angostura Bitters' The Broadside

First cocktail of the event: Angostura Bitters’ The Broadside

On Saturday and Monday I headed over to the Andaz Hotel across from the New York City Public Library for the Industry Invitation as part of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. I spent a lot more time there last year, but didn’t have the time/energy to do as much this year. I was so tired that I skipped Sunday entirely (and because of work, I couldn’t make it to the Indie Spirits Expo on Tuesday).

I spoke to a few people who were at the event last year, and they seemed to think this year’s was missing something. I must admit, it felt like there were fewer spirits and cocktails to taste. But that didn’t limit my overall enjoyment of what was available.

There were some very interesting new spirits to try this year. The most interesting was Pavan, a French liqueur made from muscat grapes. It’s a very sweet drink that needs to be mixed, and they had a few cocktails to try with it. I thought the sangria was still a bit sweet for my taste, but the equal parts iced black tea with Pavan and a little lemon was very good–great idea for a summer barbecue.

Allison from Brenne Whiskey

Allison from Brenne Whiskey

Another sweeter spirit was Cabin Fever maple whiskey. After talking with the owner of the company, I realized this whiskey is made for mixing (and apparently cooking). It has a distinct, strong maple flavor and aroma that can go well with a lot of cocktails–I think it might work in a mint julep and help cut out a lot of simple syrup.

The presentation of this cocktail is so impressive it's almost a shame to drink it

The presentation of this cocktail is so impressive it’s almost a shame to drink it

On the non-sweet side, there was a single malt whiskey from France, Brenne, which is finished in cognac casks. It was more floral and less peaty than Scotch, but very smooth. There was also Mizu shochu, a new Japanese liquor to the US market, which was surprisingly versatile in cocktails (and quite good with just a little ice).

A pair of tasty shochu cocktails

A pair of tasty shochu cocktails

The best cocktail presentation went to Chase spirits for the William Fennel Flower cocktail with elderflower liqueur, gin, apple, fennel, raspberry, and lemon. My cocktail didn’t look as impressive as these two, but tasted just as good.

$600 cognac that I'll probably never have again

$600 cognac that I’ll probably never have again

The most expensive spirits I tasted were Frapin Extra Cognac, which retails for about $600 a bottle, and Nikka Whiskey 21 year old pure malt, which retails for about $200. I definitely enjoyed the Japanese whiskey more than the cognac.

Collection of Nikka Japanese whiskey

Collection of Nikka Japanese whiskey

The best non-alcohol highlight of my days at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic was a shave courtesy of High West Whiskey and Truman’s. I didn’t really need a shave, but how could I pass up having someone else shave me me? It was a relaxing experience that ended in a whiskey cocktail. You can find Alberto at Truman’s on Madison Ave. between 30th and 31st Sts.alberto

Train Travel Adventures

panama_canal_railwayAfter reading Unbrave Girl’s list of why she loves taking trains in the US, I thought about my own experiences on trains. As much as I like taking trains, they’re not exactly convenient or reasonably priced in the US.

I didn’t take a train (that I actually remember) until I was in high school and wanted to see a concert at Madison Square Garden. It was easy enough to take NJ Transit to Penn Station, but it was a bit difficult to get to and from the station–there really wasn’t any public transportation to get to the station. I took that train a few times, and it unfortunately stopped running just before midnight.

Other than the PATH between Jersey City and Manhattan, I didn’t take another train trip until my first year in China. At the end of my first Spring Festival holiday, I took an overnight train from Shanghai to Shenzhen. It wasn’t unpleasant; there was enough space in the room with the other passengers, but it was rather boring for 24 hours. After the first couple hours, I didn’t want to go anywhere near the bathroom.

I would recommend an overnight train in China as long as you’re with someone else to help keep track of your luggage. It’s also important to stock up on food and drinks to avoid price gouging.

Bangkok Railway Station

Bangkok Railway Station

The only other train trip I took in China was with my parents between Beijing and Tianjin. We took the high-speed train on the way back, which only shaved about 15 minutes off the already short trip, but it was a more comfortable train. The more modern trains in China are definitely worth riding–it’s nice to see what the US doesn’t have (although I’ve heard plans for a high-speed rail network for the last 20 years).

railway-bangkokMy second train adventure in Asia was in Thailand. The first trip I took was a short one to Ayutthaya–only about 45 minutes from Bangkok. I quickly learned that Thailand’s trains are always late, and there are no announcements. The other trip in Thailand was an overnight train to Chiang Mai–I had a top bunk that was not large enough for me (and I’m 5’10”), and had constant overhead light. Same as the overnight train in China, this one had a rather disgusting toilet after a few hours–and I could watch the tracks through the hole in the floor.

Ayutthaya's train station is a little underdeveloped

Ayutthaya’s train station is a little underdeveloped

The overnight train back to Bangkok was more of an adventure. After waiting for more than 45 minutes for the late train, I decided to inquire as to its whereabouts. I’m not 100% certain, but I swear I heard the woman at the ticket booth say, “It fell off the track.” It took me a while to figure out the next move. I ended up exchanging my ticket for a regular train that did not have beds but departed in another two hours. It gave me time to sit outside the 7-11 across the street and eat grilled chicken from the street vendor.

My final train trip was on Amtrak during the summer of 2011. I decided to take a three-day weekend in Montreal. The ticket cost about as much as it would to drive, but I wouldn’t have to pay for parking. The drive would take about five or six hours, but the train took at least 11 hours.

It is a scenic train ride through upstate New York, but it isn’t as pleasant knowing that the train is traveling at about 20 mph. Worst of all was that we were stopped for a half hour by US customs on our way out of the US. We were stopped for almost two hours on way back into the US.

View from the train in upstate New York

View from the train in upstate New York

For the convenience of arriving five or six hours earlier, I would happily drive to Montreal next time and pay for parking.

There’s a chance I’ll take another Amtrak trip to Washington and/or Boston this spring. I just hope it doesn’t take longer than driving.

Oktoberfest in Chelsea

Don't know these people, but they were having a great time

Don’t know these people, but they were having a great time

Thanks to a deal from Thrillist, my friends and I attended an Oktoberfest event at La.venue near Chelsea a few weekends ago (this post was delayed because of the hurricane and other things). I showed up a bit earlier than my friends and ended up standing in line longer than expected as the event started a half-hour late. Fortunately, there was a mobile cheese vendor parked right next to the front of the line with a the greatest sign in the world: Free Cheese.

La.venue is an interesting place to hold Oktoberfest–it’s a large industrial space with a few large rooms. The center room was reserved for tables, music, and some odd contests like best beer belly (I couldn’t even qualify for that contest if I wanted to). Hidden in a corner was even someone rolling cigars, which was more interesting than a non-smoker would think. The beer stations weren’t set up according to any logic that I could tell–not even by region. But that didn’t really bother me, as long as I could easily make my way through the crowd and not have to suffer on long lines for a drink.

Fresh cigars for Oktoberfest

Fresh cigars for Oktoberfest

The event did not seem to live up the advertised expectation. There were supposed to be more than 100 beers, but I doubt that. I tried most of the beers (some more than once), and I still felt fine. I only avoided beers I’ve had before and didn’t particularly enjoy–there’s no reason to waste time on beer I know I don’t want. There is also the possibility that some beers may have run out from the first session of the event (I saw plenty of extremely drunk people walking out as I arrived at the venue).

One of the friendliest servers at the event. Most refused to have their picture taken.

One of the friendliest servers at the event. Most refused to have their picture taken.

Being at the front of the line to enter, I was able to move rather quickly to my first few beers. As the day wore on, I sought out lines for the beer that were shortest unless my friends recommended something.

On the food side of things, there was a dried meat vendor that handed out samples–The Jerky Hut in Pennsylvania. I had a taste of the ghost pepper beef jerky–it was a great balance of sweet and very spicy, and the spiciness built up and lingered. It was an impressive spice blend. I also had a taste of ahi tuna jerky, which was quite good as well, but not spicy. Unfortunately, they ran out of the kangaroo jerky by the time I got there (just another animal I haven’t eaten).

Jerky anyone?

Jerky anyone?

Some of the better beers I tasted throughout the event were American microbrews.

  • Heavy Seas Peg Leg imperial stout. This is was the best dark beer at the event. It is a very smooth imperial stout.
  • Widmer Brothers Marionberry hibiscus gose. A very well-balanced beer–the hibiscus isn’t overpowering, but still clearly present. The color is definitely not manly, but it is an enjoyable beer. This stood out as a unique flavor among the numerous brews.
  • Breckenridge Lucky U. I enjoy the beer from Breckenridge and this is no exception. A terrific bitter malt.
  • New Belgium Ranger IPA. It’s not easy to get New Belgium beers on the east coast, and I miss them from my time in Colorado. This was a really good IPA.
  • Bitburger kostrizer schwarz. I’m not a fan of the rather generic Bitburger lager, but this impressed me. My friend pointed me to this one. It was dark and smooth with a light coffee flavor.
  • Troegs Perpetual. This is a lighter beer from Troegs, but it had a lot of sharp hops. I wouldn’t recommend it everyone, but it’s great for hops lovers.

Surviving Sandy

I finally have power restored after hurricane Sandy stopped by for an uninvited visit. I really wasn’t affected much, but surrounding areas and towns like Hoboken are in much worse shape.

corner

This was not my first hurricane–we suffered through the rain of Irene last year, but that didn’t do much in my area. I also lived through a few typhoons in Shenzhen. The most interesting part about the typhoons was that Hong Kong (just a couple miles away) would shut down entirely, but Shenzhen would remain open.

Sandy really didn’t seem like such a bad storm–we barely got any rain and wind didn’t seem that strong. But the storm surge was quite impressive and caused significant damage further inland than anyone expected.

On Monday night, I noticed a lot of my neighbors milling around the hall–they were having a hurricane party. Unfortunately, I work the overnight shift editing news from Asia, so I was stuck working as long as we had power. That didn’t last long…

From my balcony

From my balcony

Around 8:20 p.m., I heard a commotion outside, so I checked on it from my balcony. There was flood water coming up the street. Further down the road usually floods during heavy rain, but this was more than any of us that seen. I read Facebook updates about streets turning to rivers less than half a mile in the other direction. The lights began to flicker. I made a few comments to my coworkers via Skype just before the power went out. I grabbed a glass of Scotch and a cheap flashlight and joined the party.

As I mentioned, hurricane Sandy didn’t seem that dangerous, and a few of us stood outside the door to the building watching the water rise and recede. A few neighbors took their dogs for a short walk.

A block away, these trees took out the power lines

A block away, these trees took out the power lines

The next day, I awoke early to survey the damage. Crews were already outside with chainsaws clearing the felled trees. Nearby I saw the most probable reason for the power outage (although I later learned a few substations had flooded). As I walked to Grove St., I noticed more damage. The storefronts had definitely been under water–most basements were still flooded and a few people were using their generators to pump the water out. I was told that the Tacqueria was completely under water, but I didn’t check it out for myself. I did, however, witness someone using a sump pump hooked up to a car.

Still flooded the next morning

Still flooded the next morning

I later walked to Shoprite with my friend to see if we could find better flashlights or candles since we were told we’d be without power for four to five days. We saw a lot of debris that was deposited along the streets by the flood waters–this street became a river as you can see from my friend’s video (this is less than 1/2 a mile from my place).

Shoprite was ridiculously busy. The store set out power strips in the aisles so people could recharge their phones. All the flashlights and candles were gone (as were most drinks and snacks, but there was plenty of produce).

Hurricane pizza, anyone?

Hurricane pizza, anyone?

On our way back, we passed the Barcade, which had a sign that said they had no power but they were serving $4 beers. We stopped in for a Ballast Point Oktoberfest, which was very nice. There were at least 60 people in the Barcade.There was also a long line at both pizzerias that were operating.

I invited my friend to come over later and join the party, drink some beers that would otherwise get warm, and enjoy fried rice with whatever was left in my fridge. We had another lobby party with one of my neighbors carrying out a hand-crank Victrola to provide music. We had some food and drinks, and I met many of my neighbors for the first time. I offered my balcony as a refrigerator as it was colder there than in the fridge–I set out a cooler with the top open, and it kept my food cold enough.

Yesterday, most of Jersey City returned to normal. There was some return of electricity. As I walked out get coffee, I saw a long line–and the power went out as I stepped inside. I later charged my phone at a bar near my brother’s house before we grilled some leftover meat that had thawed in my freezer. It was a depressing walk home as I saw most of downtown with lights, but complete darkness as I reached home.

The Jersey City fire department and police did a very nice job of keeping everything orderly (although there were still too many people driving around aimlessly and nearly running over pedestrians).

In the Summer Streets

GehryAugust 4th marked the beginning of New York City’s summer streets. Every Saturday during August, the city closes the streets between Foley Square by the Brooklyn Bridge and Park Ave. and 72nd St., which runs right into Central Park.

Last year was my first time taking part in the ride, just shortly after purchasing my Dahon Eco 3 folding bike. I woke up early rode from the World Trade Center and stopped along the way to pick up a free bike helmet to replace the old one I got from my brother. By the time I arrived at Central Park, my brother and his friends were just leaving Jersey City, which gave me plenty of time to ride a loop around the park. When they finally arrived at the park, I had been waiting in the shade for a while, and they convinced me to take another loop around the park before heading back downtown. In all, I rode about 22 miles.

This year I didn’t ride quite as much. I didn’t wake up nearly as early as last year (it’s a little difficult waking up early when I work nights), and I encountered a few other problems. I met a coworker downtown in the heat and humidity (I swear it wasn’t nearly as humid last year) and we took a leisurely ride up to Central Park.GrandCentral1

One of the coolest parts of the ride is the point at which Park Ave. goes around Grand Central Station. When the street is open to traffic, it’s not really possible to get these photos without getting screamed at by angry drivers.GrandCentral

As we began our ride around the park, I got a call from my coworker. I thought he was just riding slow; turns out his chain came off as he tried changing gears. I turned around to try to fix his rented bike. Unfortunately, the chain was wedged behind the wheel guard and we couldn’t fix it on our own. There was a bike rental stand in the park across the street, but even they couldn’t help us, which meant we had to take the bike back to 55th St.

Welcome to Matt's bike towing service

Welcome to Matt’s bike towing service

Unfortunately, because the chain was wedged behind the wheel guard, the rear wheel wouldn’t move, which made it difficult to move along the street. I figured out a way to use my rear bike rack to tow the broken bike.

After returning the bike to the rental shop, I headed back downtown to the World Trade Center. Unfortunately, after 1 pm the city reopens Park Ave. to traffic, which makes it much more dangerous to ride along. To avoid that hazard, I took a roundabout route mostly down 5th Ave. There was plenty of traffic blocking my way, and I managed to move between the stopped cars to make it back to the PATH station much faster than if I had driven.

Weather permitting, I will try to take the ride again this month. I’ll do my best to return to the PATH station before 1 p.m.

Mermaids on Parade

On Saturday, I headed out with my brother and others to the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. This marked the 30th anniversary of the event. Coincidentally, this year the Mermaid Parade was the same day as Dragon Boat Festival, but I didn’t see any mermaids in dragon boats.

skatingmermaids

There were plenty of people dressed as who-knows-what; they definitely didn’t look like anything that came out of the sea. I’m sure some of them were supposed to be sea monsters, but it was difficult to tell. There were also quite a few pirates.

There were also numerous women who opted for body paint rather than costumes (and the photographers were much more interested in taking their pictures).

Dog Mermaids

Dog Mermaids

As soon as we got to the parade route (a little late in event), a small marching band walked down the street. It was the geekiest marching band I’ve ever heard–they played the cantina song from Star Wars.

I really don't know what this was supposed to be

I really don’t know what this was supposed to be

After the parade, we headed for the boardwalk in search of food and cheap beer. Unfortunately, this year the parade also went down the boardwalk, blocking access to the piers where the vendors with cheap beer hang out. After walking around in circles with the sun beating down, I decided to head back home to a friend’s party in the shade.piratedingy

Icing on the Cocktail

The one presentation I could not pass up at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic was the Ice Capades. It had nothing to do with Disney characters on the Madison Square Garden ice, especially since the Rangers were playing there. This was a presentation on the history and use of ice in cocktails.

Sounds kind of boring, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t. (Unfortunately, I missed the first 10 minutes of the history lesson because I was busy tasting the wonderful spirits of Dancing Pines Distillery and lost track of time.) Fortunately, I only missed some of the history lesson–I still caught the crazy (and not-so-crazy) ice trends.

The ice cube fills most of the glass in this vodka old fashioned

The ice cube fills most of the glass in this vodka old fashioned

Did someone say flavored ice?

The presenter discussed the use of flavored ice in cocktails. He noted that it changes the flavor of the cocktail as you drink, but it’s inconsistent because all the alcohol sinks to the bottom of the ice when frozen using traditional methods. However, when done properly in smaller cubes, it can create an interesting cocktail (but they didn’t provide any samples).

Ice clarity matters

Of course, now the trend is returning to the classic large clear ice cubes that fill most of the glass. These ice blocks tend to melt slower and chill the drink more evenly. As you drink, the large ice cubes begin looking like icebergs in the way they melt. The clear ice (as opposed to the cloudy ice I get out of my freezer) makes the cocktail more visually appealing, but I don’t think it affects the taste.

I hope this ice didn't end up in my cocktail

I hope this ice didn’t end up in my cocktail

Drinking a glacier

The part that I was most upset about missing was the discussion of 10,000-year-old glacial ice imported from Greenland. A coworker informed me that it’s been used in cocktails since at least the ’70s, and it costs a small fortune. Somehow it ended up in a cooler at the High West Distillery room. I had a piece in a cocktail–it popped and crackled as it melted. I don’t know what sort of ancient bacteria I now have floating around my body.

The End of Cocktails

DowntownAndazSo, the title of this post is a little over the top, but it leads into the first presentation I attended at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic: Do Not Resuscitate. It was more of a symposium listing a dozen cocktails that should not live on.

The presentation was surprisingly unpretentious–the panel listed the cocktails and discussed their histories; they went into detail about the drinks’ flaws and even made suggestions for alternatives and improvements. I hadn’t even heard of the drinks on their list, although they did mention a couple from the Ernest Hemingway book of mixology.

Not long after the discussion, I headed upstairs to check out the events held by other distilleries. All but one of the rooms for the events had a balcony with great views of Manhattan. The corner room, which hosted rotating events, had the best views facing downtown and overlooking the library.NYCLibrary

At one particular event, I was served a cocktail that was rather light and slightly sour. I was told it was an aviator cocktail; I immediately began laughing. I told one of the organizers that the Savoy recipe of the aviator cocktail was on the Do Not Resuscitate list. She was rather surprised, but pointed out that this particular aviator had lavender.

The lavander aviator cocktail with dry ice

The lavander aviator cocktail with dry ice

Two days later, I happened to drop by the same event as I had met some people who wanted to check it out. I was given a cocktail that looked light and refreshing, and also contained dry ice. I was once again told that it was an aviator cocktail, just not the same recipe as I had sampled on the first day.

Manhattan Cocktail Classic Highlights

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.

Kristian & Kimberly of Dancing Pines

Kristian & Kimberly of Dancing Pines

Bartenders

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.

Christopher James mixing his pisco sour

Christopher James mixing his pisco sour

Re-acquaintances

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.

Karen (left) from Montanya Rum

Karen (left) from Montanya Rum

Food!

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).Breakfast