The Gala at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic

- story by Sara Gorelick

The first ever Manhattan Cocktail Classic took place from May 14-18th, 2010, a kaleidoscope of events at various restaurants, bars and seminars at the Astor Center. It was education, competitions and fantastic cocktails galore, and kicking the cocktail extravaganza into high gear was the opening night Gala at the New York Public Library. More than 2,500 guests swarmed the four-story historical structure in Bryant Park, with various brands represented and the crowd sporting their finest threads. Each area was designated with a spirit, with some overtaking whole rooms, hallways or booths.

Some of the more popular areas included the front hall where various types of Prosecco cocktails and sparkling wines were served, the Bacardi room which the United States Bartenders Guild took over, and the Bartos Forum, which featured numerous spirits and fine mixologists. Fabulous bands could be heard throughout the building, reflecting the beats of the big city.

"We set the stakes impossibly high for this event - seriously, when you have Party Rentals telling you that you're asking for "too many cocktail glasses", that should set off some alarm bells!" said Lesley Townsend, Founder and Director. "But overall, I'm just amazed we pulled the thing off at all. Of course there were a thousand things I'd do differently, but nonetheless, I think a great time was had by one and all. Just being a part of something of that scale and magnitude - it was truly just dizzying! I'm checking with Guinness this week to see how many records we broke (I'm guessing at least a dozen)."

The evening was a beautiful testament to the best cocktails around, set in the exquisite library in the heart of Manhattan.

Here are some memorable photos from the evening, hope you enjoy.

Enjoying a relaxing moment in the library stairway
Two guests clowning around in the Bacardi Room
The Bartos Forum, where Diageo Reserve brands like Don Julio, Tanqueray, Bulleit Bourbon, Ron Zacapa and Ketel One took over, featured the Budos Band.
Mixologist extraordinare Damon Dyer creating a delicious cocktail
Slavic Soul Party keeps the beat in the Library's foyer. Michael Aranella's Dreamland Orchestra played between sets there.
All eyes were on the figure above the Hendricks display