Why the Manhattan Cocktail Classic Opening Gala Is Worth Its Princely Sum


The Manhattan Cocktail Classic returns to the city this spring, from May 16 to 19. The annual event incorporates a series of parties, workshops, and dinner pairings designed to educate as well as entertain, and its kickoff is marked by the Opening Night Gala, held for the first time this year at Cipriani Wall Street in the FiDi. Tickets go on sale this afternoon for the three-hour black-tie engagement, but you’ve go to pay (handsomely) to play. Here’s what you can expect in return for the $225 admission — it might very well be worth it.

Although much of the MCC is geared toward insiders from the spirits and cocktail industry, the Gala is different. Billed as the ultimate cocktail party, it typically attracts upwards of 3,000 revelers, largely folks who want nothing more than great drinks and fun times. And this time the party’s shifted downtown from its traditional landing spot in the Great Hall of the New York Public Library.

The newly renovated Cipriani Wall Street is a stately, granite pillared structure that formerly housed the U.S. Customs House and National City Bank. It’s a vast space, sprawled across multiple floors, including a restaurant, a library, and a basement billiards room. Attendees gain access to all of it, including the outdoor terraces overlooking the epicenter of global finance — a far more affecting spectacle when sporting a black tie.

A new management team, led by CEO Michael Blatter, is running the show this year, promising an array of events with a broader range of appeal. “The Classic is a celebration of everything cocktails,” says Blatter, “from the celebrity bartenders who develop these liquid works of art…to the influential cocktail enthusiasts who have helped build the industry and fuel the growing abundance of cocktail bars throughout NYC.”

Why would the mixologists hog all the glory? We all should be patting ourselves on the back for being such a booze-soaked city. The Opening Gala affords plenty of time to congratulate yourself. Lasting from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m., the evening includes interactive mixing stations, live music, a bevy of catered small bites, and every category of alcoholic drink imaginable. It’s also an optimal opportunity to mingle with many of the distillers responsible for making it. (And after a few drinks, there will be much mingling to be had.)

If you can’t make a memorable date night out of this one, it just wasn’t meant to be. Or you drank way too much to remember.