Day two of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic started at the Andaz Hotel, where brands staked out conference rooms, lounges, penthouse suites and tight corners to display their wares. The second floor was buzzing with educational seminars and tasting rooms from the likes of Haus Alpenz, Ron Diplomatico and Molinari, who conducted a blind Sambuca tasting. But the star of the show was Angostura Bitters, who held an elaborate cooking demonstration — and provided food.
In the second floor kitchen, chefs created a variety of Angostura-fueled dishes, including breakfast biscuits, mini burgers, mac and cheese bites, glazed nuts and even ice cream. To keep ice cream wait times at a minimum, The Aviary’s Craig Schoettler manned the liquid nitrogen. The purpose of the cooking demonstrations was to show Angostura’s versatility: it’s not just a cocktail ingredient, but a handy flavor enhancer in the kitchen as well. But drinks weren’t forgotten, as Angostura also sponsored the official lounge bar. Our favorite drink: an aged tequila old fashioned with demerara sugar and bitters.
Ron Diplomatico’s table was showing off the new Diplomatico Ambassador Rum, which is aged for 12 years in used bourbon casks before moving to sherry casks for another two years. Though a two-step aging process isn’t entirely unique, Diplomatico Ambassador clocks in at 94 proof, which is rare. We got to sample the spirit, and are happy to report that it is delicious. Lots of raisin and dark fruits come through nicely from the sherry casks, and the higher proof is tempered by the 14 years in oak. The rum will hit the market this summer and retail for $250.
Next on the list was visiting Amor y Amargo, the East Village bar that’s backed by Bittermen’s Bitters. With vermouth on tap and a back bar to make any bitters aficionado envious, it was a great spot for sampling some esoteric bottles and cocktails. We tasted through the lineup of Bittermen’s potable bitters, which were lessons in finding restraint amongst huge flavors. And our favorite cocktail of the night was definitely the Eight Amari Sazerac. If you get a chance, check out Amor y Amargo. But get there early, as it’s roughly the size of an NYU dorm room.