Just before the Memorial Day holiday, three thousand thirsty people descended on the New York Public Library in tuxedos, bow ties, and dresses that could have roared out of the Twenties. Inside, 87 booths served up some 25,000 specialty cocktails concocted just for the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, an annual event at which memorable new drinks are tippled with such ferocity that few end up remembering their names or ingredients.
Amid the buckets of hand-chiseled ice, the English garden worth of herbs, and the towers of glass, we watched as a dream team of bartenders showed off their skills and sampled dozens of showy drinks carefully conceived by mixologists looking to make a splash. But the drinks that really got our attention were the thoughtfully constructed few that seemed designed for fêtes and perfect for less frilly Friday nights. Here are a few standouts.
The line was out the door for this old fashioned that swapped whiskey for a fine rum, served over a 2-inch cube of ice. This unique drink offered the kind of sophisticated simplicity you expect to find at a cocktail gala and can actually emulate.
• 2 oz Appleton Estate Reserve
• 1/4 oz Demerara syrup (2:1)
• 2 dash Mole bitters
Garnish: orange peel
Ice: 2x2 cubes
Credit: Bonnie Burke