A Cocktail Contest for The Tales of Hoffman Gives the Metropolitan Opera a Little Extra Punch

Perhaps they served metropolitans too...
Perhaps they served metropolitans too...
Selena Ricks

Last night, the Metropolitan Opera treated its Young Associates--a group of young donors--to an experience not usually paired with a night of arias: a cocktail competition inspired by the current production, Jacques Offenbach's Tales of Hoffman.

Lynnette Marrero, beverage consultant for Rye House, took first place with her "Kleinzach Punch," featuring Carpano Antica, cognac, genever, cherry juice, lime juice, ginger, allspice dram, and champagne. The other five competing mixologists were Joaquin Simo of Death & Co., Meaghan Dorman of Raines Law Room, Leo Robitschek of Eleven Madison Park, Ryan McGrale of Flatiron Lounge, Brad Farran of Clover Club, and Gardner Dunn of Yamazaki Whisky (substituting for James Menite of Porter House).

The unlikely collaboration between the Met and NYC mixologists began last month when Allen Katz, director of mixology for Southern Wine and Spirits and an opera fan, invited several bartenders to a dress rehearsal of Hoffman. The psychological fantasy opens and closes with a vivid tavern scene featuring a cast clad in 19th-century garb not much different from what many mixologists are sporting these days--bowler hats, vests, and pinstriped trousers.

Katz said he wanted to give the bartenders, who create new recipes on a constant basis, "a new opportunity for inspiration."

Marrero's punch may have struck a chord with the judges because a memorable scene in Hoffman involves a steaming bowl of punch being passed around while thongs of bar-goers sing, "Fill my cup 'til the sun comes up!"

Many of the bartenders based their drinks on the woes of the title character, who is more in love with the idea of love than the three objects of his affections. McGrale's cocktail, "Lovers Lament," was served in a mezcal-rinsed glass and featured Delamain cognac, Royal Combier liqueur, absinthe, and Angostura bitters.

Judges of the cocktail competition included the Met general manager Peter Gelb, opera star Mariusz Kwiecien (Escamillo in the Met's new Carmen, opening New Year's Eve), cocktail journalist and writer Gaz Regan, and Katz. Marrero's punch will be featured at the Met's Revlon Bar through the holiday season, and she also received opera tickets and a flask from the Met's gift shop. Marrero said she planned on using the tickets to see that upcoming production of Carmen.

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