(Written by Dale and Jill DeGroff)
I can recall a moment a few years ago when my 95 year old grandfather looked up at me after seeing a television commercial and asked “what the hell is all this dot com nonsense?”. In the same manner about two hundred years ago, someone wrote a letter to the editor of a Hudson River Valley newspaper inquiring about a new term that had recently been surfacing -the term “Cocktail”:
The editor’s reply on May 13th , 1906 described the cocktail as an iced drink defined by the addition of bitters. Exactly two hundred years later on May 13th, 2006 a great celebration was launched by The Museum of the America Cocktail to mark this special anniversary. The six celebrations which took place in New York, Las Vegas, London, Sydney, Amsterdam, and Berlin have been documented into one international podcast and plans are underway for an even larger international event – “World Cocktail Day” for 2007.
How did it all come about? Having recently established the Museum we were keenly aware that the 200th year marker was quickly approaching. We knew that this day indeed deserved recognition and so plans were made for a “Cocktail 200” tribute for May 13th 2006: a world celebration and drink competition. Many of our colleagues in the industry wanted to participate. Livio Lauro of the United States Bartending Guild immediately agreed to partner with us to produce the competition. Ti Martin, Michael Smith, and Brad Brennan of Commander’s Palace generously agreed to host the celebration and the Aladdin Resort permitted us to use their stage. Cheers and Sante Magazines generously donated full page advertisements, thereby getting the word out to hundreds of talented mixologists who submitted their original recipes and supported the museum with their membership.
Planning the Cocktail200 event was a challenging process which involved many people and partnerships. Duessen Global organized every aspect of the New York event, and the Courtney Rainey Group and Wagstaff Communications assisted with the Las Vegas event. Our sponsor brands provided product for the celebration, along with Charmer Industries. We have Plymouth Gin to thank for providing additional support for all of the international celebrations as well the ones in NY and Las Vegas.
Meanwhile our friends in Europe were busy planning their own celebrations that would coincide with our event and make Cocktail200 a truly global phenomenon. Mark Ward in Sydney Australia, Henry and Dre at the Worldwide Cocktail Club, Wayne Collins, the Fabulous Shaker Boys, Helmut Adam.
At Hugo’s in Sydney Australia, the celebration began a day earlier in order to make up for the time difference. Jason Crawley presented the Martinez: Plymouth Gin, Cinzano Rosso and Cherry Herring Marashino liqueur with a dash of Angostura bitters. Marco Faraone presented the Clover Club Cocktail: Plymouth Gin, fresh lemon juice, egg white and home-made signature grenadine (Raspberry syrup). The host, Mark Ward of Yakusan Consulting presented a Mandarin Collins: Plymouth Gin, Mandarin Napoleon liqueur, fresh lemon juice, fresh mandarin juice, dash of sugar syrup and soda.
The New York event was held at the Balance. Curator David Wondrich and designer Jack Chandler were busy completing the finishing touches on the new satellite exhibit- talk about close to the wire! The event began promptly at 5pm with mixologists Eben Klemm and Jaimie Gordon presenting a Tequila Punch (with Partida Tequila) and the Monarch Cocktail with Plymouth Gin. Audrey Saunders, owner of Pegu Club, featured her original Dreamy Dorini Smoking Martini using another great supporting brand of the Museum, Pernod. Renowned cocktailian Gary Regan (the guy on the label of Regan’s No. 4 Orange bitters!) featured the Bacardi Cocktail. Our tireless founding VPs of the Museum, Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown featured the Bloody Mary and a classic Pisco Sour. David Wondrich featured a Dewar’s Scotch Rob Roy. Museum founder and Nola cocktail expert Phil Greene presided over the ceremony keeping it fun and fast while paying tribute to the significance of the occasion.
At Commander’s Palace, Las Vegas founding president of the Museum of the American Cocktail, Dale DeGroff proudly displayed a proclamation from the Mayor of Las Vegas recognizing the Cocktail’s birthday on May 13th as an official holiday to be celebrated each year. On stage ready to compete were the finalists: Will Shine and Aisha Sharpe (B.E.D. New York), Clark Clark, (Barmarche, New York) and Brandon Williams (Anthony’s Homeport, Seattle). The panel of expert judges included Dale DeGroff, Robert Hess, Tony Abou Ganim, Chris McMillian, Livio Lauro, Ted (Dr.Cocktail) Haigh, Bobby Gleason and Francesco LaFranconi. (is this correct?) Meanwhile guests at the New York event were able to view the Las Vegas competition live on a large plasma screen, The finalists presented their cocktails and at the end of the competition, the winning cocktail selected was the “Wet Spot”, by Will Shine and Aisha Sharpe.
One of the best lessons learned from this experience was that by making the event all inclusive and forming many alliances, there was so much more to be gained. There is a world cocktail community forming, which oddly enough, feels rather small and intimate because of the genuineness of the practitioners. It has been suggested that May 13th be celebrated each year as World Cocktail Day. We think it’s a great idea.
The Museum would like to extend an invitation to mixologists around the world to become members of the Museum of the American Cocktail and start making preparations for their World Cocktail Day celebrations now. The Museum of the American Cocktail and our brand sponsors will provide signage and support to all of our participating…
We would like to thank all of our sponsors, (below) who are supporting our mixology exhibits, seminars and events and our efforts to preserve the rich history of the American Cocktail while promoting an educated and responsible approach to alcohol.
Original recipe by Will Shine and Aisha Sharpe of B.E.D. New York
THE WET SPOT
- 1.5 oz Plymouth Gin
- .5 oz apricot brandy
- 1 oz apple juice
- .5 oz elderflower syrup
- .75 lemon juice
- lemon peel
In the mixing glass build the martini beginning with juices then with sweeteners and then add Plymouth Gin. Add ice to the mixing glass and shake to a slow 10 count strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
Original recipe by Clark Clark of Barmarche, New York
BARMARCHE HONEY SOUR
- 1.5 oz honey
- 1.5 oz Belvedere Vodka
- dash bitters
- 1 oz lemon juice
- 0.25 oz B&B
- 1/2 egg white
Stir together vodka and honey. Stir in bitters, lemon juice, B&B, Stir in egg white. Add crushed ice and shake. Strain into rocks glass (serve up or over ice). Garnish with skewer of orange wheel and cherry.
Original recipe by Brandon Williams of Anthony’s Homeport, Seattle
- 1.5 oz Makers Mark
- 0.5 oz Lillet Blanc
- 0.5 oz Cointreau
- 0.25 oz lemon juice
- dash simple syrup
- dash orange bitters
- dash of angostura bitters
In a mixing glass shake all ingredients until well chilled, strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a fresh grated nutmeg, sprg of mint and orange twist.
Special thanks the sponsors who helped to make this event possible:
Bacardi, Barsol Pisco, Belvedere Vodka, Chambord, Cointreau Liqueur, Dewar’s, Finlandia Vodka, Gran Centenario Tequila, Heavy Water Vodka, Martini & Rossi, Moet Hennessy USA, Partida Tequila, Pernod Anise, Plymouth Gin, Sazerac Company, Skyy Vodka, The Balance, Commander’s Palace, United States Bartenders’ Guild, Cheers Magazine, Sante Magazine, Tales of the Cocktail