Food

Cocktail Magic: Boozy Festival Stirs Up Fun With Magicians and Mixology

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What happens when you pair award-winning mixologist Julie Reiner with the creators of Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival and Outside Lands? Cocktail magic. Literally. Immersive live entertainment organizers Superfly (co-founders and co-producers of the aforementioned festivals) have announced their latest event, Cocktail Magic, a celebration of cocktails, with music and illusionists, and bites by Roberta’s.

“It’s an extravaganza of cocktails and magic,” says Reiner, owner of the Clover Club and Flatiron Lounge. “It’s going to be really fun.”

The goal is to bring some of the country’s best bars together under one roof, in four different cities — New York City; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; and Boston — with imaginative entertainment. Local bars are participating in each city, along with a few traveling mixologists from Miami and Chicago’s Broken Shaker, Denver’s Williams & Graham, and Reiner’s Clover Club. Magicians Jon Armstrong, Matthew Holtzclaw, Noah Levine, Francis Menotti, and Joshua Jay are performing tricks and illusions throughout every event. The last hour of each party culminates with live DJ sets by well-known artists including Vacationer (DC), Baio (NYC), Neon Indian (Boston), and St. Lucia (Chicago).

Organizer Kerry Black won’t divulge full details, but he says to expect interesting decor and great entertainment in an intimate environment. The capacity tops out at 1,000 people per session, so the focus will really emphasize a fun drink experience. “There’s stuff you can do with cocktails in an intimate event you can’t in a festival,” Black explains.

For Superfly, the transition to food has been almost a given as food culture shifted from bland pizza and McDonald’s burgers to artisanal wood-fired pies and foie-gras-topped patties. A few years ago, Bonnaroo started expanding its lineup by emphasizing better dishes. Not long after that, Black and his team started emphasizing cocktails with an area called GastroMagic at Outside Lands that brought in high-end bites and San Francisco bars. Black says the reaction was great. “There’s been a massive movement there,” he says. “You can’t go to a festival now and serve soggy chicken fingers.”

Reiner had worked with the team for events in the past. She did drinks for the VIP area of GoogaMooga, and according to Reiner, the idea for Cocktail Magic spawned from there. Superfly approached her with a vision: “It was like, how can we do something really cool that’s a traveling cocktail event featuring the best cocktails, but also the things you can expect from Superfly, like monkeys and magic?” (More on that in a minute.)

Shortly after signing on, Reiner suggested they bring on Andy Seymour, co-founder of Liquid Production, educator, and partner at renowned training course Beverage Alcohol Resource (B.A.R.). Together, Reiner and Seymour curated a list of mixologists they wanted to bring into the fold and narrowed down the cities to places that are close together and have thriving bar scenes.

Reiner and Seymour are working with each of the bars involved to make sure the selection is diverse, but the goal is to let each one bring their best in show with a couple of different options per establishment. “We’re giving all the bars creative license,” says Reiner. “So many of them have a different focus; a bar like Leyenda will most likely do something Latin inspired or tequila based. Other bars are more rum or tiki inspired.”

While Reiner has an idea of what to expect in the beverage department, she still has no idea what’s going to happen with the entertainment — other than the fact that there’s music and magic. Given her past experiences she’s eagerly anticipating the event. “I’m most excited to see what they’re going to do,” she says. “I walked into the VIP [area] at GoogaMooga, and there were people walking on stilts and monkeys walking around.”

“We won’t have any monkeys, but we definitely will have a lot of great activities and decor,” adds Black.

The traveling cocktail circus is hitting venues in four cities during its short tour: Dock5, in Washington, D.C., on March 12; Brooklyn’s Weylin B. Seymour‘s (175 Broadway, Brooklyn; 718-963-3639), on March 19; the Castle at Park Plaza, in Boston, on March 26; and Chicago’s Morgan Manufacturing, on April 1.  

For the Brooklyn fest, expect to see the folks from Attaboy, Dead Rabbit, Death + Co., Dutch Kills, End of the Century Bar, Mother of Pearl, Nitecap, PDT, and Pouring Ribbons. Leyenda will stand in for Clover Club at the local gathering. Baio is the onsite DJ, while Armstrong, Holtzclaw, Menotti, and Levine will show off their illusion entertainment skills.

The cost to attend is $124.50, which includes entry, cocktails, magic, music, and hearty snacks. Some early-bird tickets are available for $99. “First Pour” tickets — which allow early access one hour before the main event — cost $159.50. For more information, visit cocktailmagic.com.

Here’s the official lineup for the four-city tour:

Washington, D.C.

Dock5

TBA

Barmini

Copycat

Eat the Rich

Quarter + Glory

Jack Rose Dining Saloon

PX

Rose’s Luxury

The Dabney

The Gibson

Broken Shaker (Chicago)

Clover Club (NYC)

Williams & Graham (Denver)

Bites by: Roberta’s

DJ set by: Vacationer

Illusion entertainment by: Jon Armstrong, Matthew Holtzclaw, Francis Menotti, and Joshua Jay

Brooklyn, NY

Weylin B. Seymour’s

March 19, 2016

10 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Attaboy

Dead Rabbit

Death + Co.

Dutch Kills

End of the Century Bar

Leyenda

Mother of Pearl

Nitecap

PDT

Pouring Ribbons

Broken Shaker (Chicago)

Williams & Graham (Denver)

Bites by: Roberta’s

DJ set by: Baio

Illusion entertainment by: Jon Armstrong, Matthew Holtzclaw, Francis Menotti, and Noah Levine

Boston, MA

The Castle at Park Plaza

March 26, 2016

5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Alden & Harlow

backbar

Café Artscience

Drink

Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks

Hojoko

Loyal Nine

The Baldwin Bar at Sichuan Garden

The Hawthorne

Broken Shaker (Chicago)

Clover Club (NYC)

Williams & Graham (Denver)

Bites by: Roberta’s

DJ set by: Neon Indian

Illusion entertainment by: Jon Armstrong, Matthew Holtzclaw, Noah Levine, and Francis Menotti

Chicago, IL

Morgan Manufacturing
TBA

Broken Shaker

Lost Lake

Sable Kitchen & Bar

Scofflaw

Sportsman’s Club

The Betty

The Drifter

The Game Room

Barrelhouse Flat

Clover Club (NYC)

Dead Rabbit (NYC)

Williams & Graham (Denver)

Bites by: Roberta’s

DJ set by: St. Lucia

Illusion entertainment by: Jon Armstrong, Matthew Holtzclaw, and Noah Levine

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