The Tasting Panel magazine

JULY 2011

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Page 34 of 120

SIPPED & SCENE Nick Van Tiel of Pernod Ricard at Absolut’s Pravda event at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. COCKTAIL CLASSIC Off the Menu F by Blaine Ashley A TASTE OF THE MANHATTAN eeling recharged, sun kissed and ready for another round, I jetted back to New York from Honolulu on the eve of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. Upon touchdown, I quickly tossed on a party frock and hit Pegu Club for a refresh- ing Dale DeGroff Whisk(e)y Smash before heading to an Absolut fête, aptly dubbed “London and New York,” that was held at hot nightspot Pravda. Bar-Lab of Miami’s Elad Zvi and Ezra Pattek serving fresh Corzo Tequila cocktails including the “Mexican Hotdog” made with Dijon mustard and “filthy” pep- pers at the Manhattan edition of Social Mixology. The spirited bash brought together some of the industry’s best to mix, shake and stir cocktails for lucky guests. Nick Strangeway, Jamie Gordon and Nick Van Tiel represented London in the 1990s, while Dale DeGroff, Toby Cecchini and Michael Waterhouse spearheaded the version of ’90s New York. And, DJ Terry Casey spun tunes from . . . you guessed it, the ’90s. My first night back in New York and I was already enjoying cocktails hand-made by “King Cocktail” himself. Since Absolut’s always on the cusp of cool, it was no sur- prise that they brought together the best in scene before the official start of MCC. I knew for the next five days I’d be inundated with to-dos but was surprised with the number of “off-the-menu” parties surrounding the Classic that were fill- ing up my calendar. My busy schedule was equally split between seminars, MCC-stamped parties and rogue events organized and enjoyed only by those in the know. For instance, Las Vegas–based cocktail consultant Tobin Ellis pioneered two major undercover hits, Social Mixology and Royal Rumble. Ellis has been organizing Social 34 / the tasting panel / july 201 1 Mixology parties for quite a while now— underground pop-up cocktail parties that combine authentic speakeasy culture with A-list nightlife. Guests are notified about the parties a week in advance, and upon RSVP, are texted the location and time the day of. This installment of the ever-popular Mixology was held on Sunday at 10 p.m. at pop-up of-the-moment bar LTO (aka Limited Time Only) in China Town. Who doesn’t love a secret soiree coupled with a cool atmosphere, tasty libations and the utmost feel of exclusivity? Everyone likes to feel like a VIP, and Ellis does just that with his ongoing series. The following night, Ellis, with the help of new Nolita–based bar 1534, brought off-the-menu junkies the Mixfits Royal Rumble, a charity cocktail competition. The tournament began at midnight, with pro- ceeds supporting MS research. Eighteen bartenders competed in three rounds, and the winner claimed bragging rights plus a $900 grand prize. Acclaimed bartenders came from around the globe including Tad Carducci, John Lermayer, Misty Kalkofen, Danny Valdez and Don Lee, to name a few. But it was Contemporary Cocktails’ own Willy Shine that took the crown as the Mixfits Royal Rumble Mix Master. And, in true NYC fashion, the excitement continues. For instance, I’ll be attending the Global Feast at the Gansevoort Park Hotel, where mix masters Julie Reiner, Audrey Sanders, Michael Neff and Xavier Herit will be serving up sips paired with dishes by top chefs from all over. Stay tuned . . . PHOTO: TOBIN ELLIS PHOTO: TOBIN ELLIS

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