On Monday, we learned that the Manhattan Cocktail Classic isn’t just one big cocktail party. It’s also an educational convention offering a wealth of industry-specific information to the curious. This lesson came in Perrier’s panel discussion called “What’s Shaken’: Cocktail Trends from the Source.” Hosted by friend of the program, Lindsey Johnson, the panel was composed of industry heavy hitters Tony Conigliaro (69 Colebrook Row), Toby Cecchini (spirits columnist for the New York Times) and Karin Stanley (Little Branch).
During the discussion, each panelist expounded on where bartending and cocktails have come from, where they are now and where they’re heading, plus they revealed their thoughts on current trends, both good and bad. And because it’s not the MCC without a drink in your hand, the esteemed trio was kind enough to craft us some cocktails. Toby created his “father’s gin and tonic,” which replaced tonic water with quinine syrup; Tony wowed the crowd by doctoring a simple vodka soda with a dose of perfumy aromatics and Karin created a layered cocktail with blackstrap rum.
Below we’ve pulled out some interesting highlights from each panelist.
Tony says if it’s good, it will stick. So time will tell what’s legitimate and what’s just a fad. Tony talks about sensory experiences, and how the order in which you smell and taste things can affect your overall perception of the food or drink. Even certain music can affect how you perceive tastes and aromas. He mentions that carbonation in particular separates and highlights aromas and flavors, and the mineralogy in different carbonated waters can affect mouthfeel, etc.
Toby wonders if craft cocktails are just a trend. He thinks no. We’ve come a long way since beer and a shot. That 25-year-old bartender making a cardamom-chamomile-hibiscus old fashioned is silly, but it’s also uplifting. The current craze can’t last forever, but when the wave breaks, we’ll be higher than when we started. We’ll be in a better place overall.
Karin says we’re doing things now that we did in 1890 as well as things that have never been done before. It’s exciting to pull the best stuff from our past while forging a future. Just as there’s now such an interest in classic drinks and techniques, it will be interesting to see how future generations respond to what we’re doing.